Arrive Alone, Leave Alone by Girl Friend (Review)

Review of Arrive Alone, Leave Alone the new EP by Girl Friend

If there’s one thing Manchester’s great at it’s producing some of the most unique and obscure music. It’s good to see that in 2015 the city and it’s bustling scene of musicians still hasn’t lost it. Girl Friend, Manchester’s latest indie-pop-disco band, received recognition last year from the likes of XFM radio and DIY magazine for their debut singlePerfume‘ and debut EPEveryone Wants to be Wanted’, and have been raking in the love ever since. They even scored a slot touring with indie legends The Kooks across the UK and the rest of Europe.

 

Review of the new EP Arrive Alone, Leave Alone by Girl Friend

Review of the new EP Arrive Alone, Leave Alone by Girl Friend

This year the group are unleashing their latest EPArrive Alone, Leave Alone in hopes of recreating last year’s success.

 

The first trackMonte Carlo is a sensational summer jam in the making for sure. It’s a little bit disco, a little bit 80’s but crammed with that modern indie energy. This leads seamlessly in to the next trackLead The Way, the track they’ve chosen as their EP taster. This song is three minutes of chilled out synth bliss, boasting odd little ripples of an Ian Curtis vibe in the vocals. That 80’s glitter chorus is back in the next songStyle and Substance, which actually in parts has huge reminders of bands like Human League. It’s poppy and bright, another summer feeling in this song just like ‘Monte Carlo’. ‘Stop’ is the aptly titled finishing track for this EP, and it’s smoky sexy groove is the perfect ribbon to wrap around this little gift, tying in each track which stand strong on their own but flow beautifully together.

 

With so many sounds pressed in to just four tracks you’d think this EP would end up a mess of genre and re-hashed glitter pop – and made by anyone else it just might have ended up that way. Yet Girl Friend seem to have pulled it off quite happily.

 

2015 promises to be a great year for these unique mancunians and with a full UK tour through out April, their empire should keep on growing.

 

The EP ‘Arrive Alone, Leave Alone’ by Girl Friend is out April 27th.

Review by Hev Bailey


Nicki Minaj at O2 Arena, London (Gig Review)

Review of Nicki Minaj Gig at the O2 Arena, London

So credible rapper? No.  Champion of advancing women’s rights? Probably not. Entertainer that doesn’t take herself too seriously? Potentially yes.

So Nicki Minaj is often criticised within music critics for what she brings to the music scene.  Yes she has an element of swagger about her, but she is trying to deliver rap music, albeit to the masses.  Yes she does show off more flesh than your average feminist or even vegetarian might approve of.  But you know what, she can put on a bloody great show.

Nicki Minaj

Her latest gig in London proved no exception to this rule.  Nicki Minaj is like a rapping version of Lady Gaga.  Alter-egos a plenty but still really passionate about her art form.  So her latest tour – Pinkprint tour – allows the fan no shocks when Minaj appears in a delightful pink wig.

So fans of Nicki Minaj will know her music isn’t all bluster.  She actually shares some moments that are quite personal in her music.  Whilst this may not always come across in her recorded material as terribly emotional, when you see her live, this empathy for the content and with her audience really oozes in to her performance.  Whilst saying this translates in to an emotional roller coaster is over cooking it  a little, it does show a different side to those of us not as close to the Nicki Minaj catalogue as others.

The show is brilliantly produced, has great choreography and Minaj is very good throughout.  The gig seems to be split in to distinct sections.  Whilst a number of the crowd seemed indifferent to the stretch of pop ballads, I actually thought this was OK, and was actually quite impressed by her delivery.

Nicki Minaj the great performer she is, did save the main bit until the end.  She managed to end the show on what felt like the biggest house party I have ever been to.  Minus geeky teenager throwing up, or mums best ornaments being broken.  Dress in quite a revealing outfit and striding around in long thigh high boots, which belied her actually short height, Minaj was in her element.  Whipping the crowd in to a frenzy.

Tracks such as Lookin’ Ass, Flawless and Dance (a$$) were great rebel rousers.  She gave the obligatory booty shakes, she was as provocative as ever and in terms of her performance as tight as can be expected.

As long as you don’t take Nicki Minaj too seriously, then you can appreciate her for what she is.  The queen of pop-rap.

Bitch Better Have My Money by Rihanna (Review)

Review of Bitch Better Have My Money by Rihanna

So the title of Rihanna’s new track suggest a little diversification.  Is our Bajan beauty going in to the debt collection business?  Whist I don’t doubt RiRi can look after herself, I think she may be of slightly the wrong build to go that route. Hence its welcome relief the words mean something far less sinister.

Now, there has been nothing wrong with Rihanna’s previous albums or singles.  They have featured great pop hooks, plenty of hints towards EDM, which is successful here and something of the currency stateside.  She has even displayed her vocal range on most of the singles. However, there hasn’t really been anything stand-offish.

Rihanna, arguably, has been playing the commercial game.  This notion supported by various commercial tie-ins, notably her ill-fated tie-in with British fashion retailer River Island.  However, who can blame her? Cash in while you can.  She is only following the well trodden path of other millennial taste makers such as Beyonce.

Review of Bitch Better Have My Money by Rihanna

Review of Bitch Better Have My Money by Rihanna

But, her music has lost its edge. She sounds more and more american and polished than when she started.  That is until now!  Like a punch in the ribs (just to remind you she is there), she hits you with the new single Bitch Better Have My Money.  Straight from the off, this is different to recent releases.  The beats are stripped back a little.  The composition is more focussed and not designed for a packed arena, an Ibiza club or an advert for a car company.

The Bajan twang is back.  Rihanna’s vocal are laced with her heritage and Caribbean upbringing shining through.  She delivers her lyrics with her usual prowess, demonstrating what a great singer she is, but with a difference.  RiRi also gets her attitude back.

The chorus of Bitch Better Have My Money is delivered with attitude.  Whether she is referring to somebody that hasn’t paid the latest instalment on their car loan is irrelevant.  Rihanna delivers it with such fierceness you believe she is going to tackle the target of the chorus.

Rihanna, I don’t think I owe you any money.  But if I did, I would be round like shot just to ensure you don’t kick my sorry butt.

Simply, Rihanna is back. If you prefer the big dance sound you may not like this.  For me Bitch Better Have My Money feels genuine and like its the real Rihanna.  I love this.

Listen to Bitch Better Have My Money by Rihanna here. Let us know your views by commenting below, tweeting @musiceyz or by hitting the Music Eyz Facebook page

Wonder Woman by Lion Babe (Review)

Review of Wonder Woman by Lion Babe

Hailing from the underground scene of New York, Lion Babe are an experimental duo who took the music world by storm in 2014 releasing a series of spell binding tracks. The duo contains the genius work of producer and instrumentalist Lucas Goodman and the hypnotic, powerful voice of Jillian Hervey (who just so happens to be the daughter of Vanessa Williams).

Review of Wonder Woman by Lion Babe

Review of Wonder Woman by Lion Babe

These two twenty something’s have combined their incredible talents to create one of the biggest ‘To Watch’ acts of 2015.

Their debut EP did extremely well last year, backed up by a whole catalogue of rave reviews from fans and industry peers alike. A collaboration with Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) on the lively track ‘Jump Hi’ didn’t hurt either, giving this unique duo even more attention and adoration.

With their latest single ‘Wonder Woman’ they’ve teamed up with the legendary Pharrell Williams and, still over a month away from its release date, the single already boasts praise from Annie Mac of Radio 1 and enough twitter fans to make the track a worldwide trend – not to mention over 50 thousand views for the teaser on YouTube.

The track itself is three minutes of pure beat and soul. The lyrics are as powerful as the title suggests, and Hervey’s voice is dark, smooth and sexy. From start to finish, listening to this song is like watching warm honey being poured from a clear glass jar – it just feels so satisfying. Rhythmic, steady and a constant flow this is the sort of music that works anywhere from a dance floor to a car stereo. You can put this song on repeat and completely lose yourself without a single moment of boredom.

Hitting the UK at the end of May and then off to a string of US festivals, Lion Babe promises to be a ferocious force to be watched and we can’t wait to see what they come up with or who they collaborate with next.

Review by Hev Bailey

The single ‘Wonder Woman’ will be released on May 3rd.

Chaos and the Calm by James Bay (Album Review)

Review of Chaos and the Calm by James Bay

For anybody that uses the Brits as a barometer for quality or taste making, James Bay is a big deal.  James Bay not to be confused with floppy-haired, middle aged, buffoon James May of Top Gear has many fans.  None less than the likes of Taylor Swift , Zane Lowe and Kodaline.  Swift publicly praised Bay’s track Let It Go (the track he won Critics Choice for at this years Brits).

Review of James Bay Chaos and the Calm album

Review of James Bay Chaos and the Calm album

So all is well for James Bay.  The critics love him. Top music tastemakers love him. Credible musicians love him. Oh and Taylor Swift also loves him.  So the release of his new album Chaos and Calm couldn’t come at a better time.

Well commercially the sentiment on timing is spot on.  Bay should take advantage of the momentum being generated around him at present and in turn release his pivotal piece of work. Does Chaos and the Calm do that.  Well in my eyes, sadly not.

Listen the guy can play the guitar.  He is no Jimi Hendrix or Prince but he does have skills.  He writes and sings his own material so for that, he should be applauded.  Sadly though his album feels a little bit rushed, like he took a cookie cutter approach and rehashed old ideas.  As the album suggests he does cover ups and downs, he does attempt to exploit opposite ends of the spectrum, however, the gusto and passion that the title suggests is somewhat lacking.

There is no doubt the album will sell, so if its released as purely a commercial exercise I think James Bay’s team has nailed it.  Its safe, its harmless and is easy to listen to.  However given the title and the expectations built up around James Bay, I expected more.

The whole format seems to have been done.  The biggest culprit is Collide.  The track seems to be an attempt to replicate Justin Timberlake or touch upon a guitar version of what Pharrell has done.  Sadly it falls way short of either icon.

The light at the end of the tunnel though is, you can still feel James Bay’s talent crying to come out.  Sadly it feels as if some record label executive somewhere decided to throw a big blanket over it for now.  The tracks will sound better live as James Bay will be able to play around with the composition.  On that basis, I wouldn’t waste your money on the album but wait until you can see James Bay really shine.  Go see him perform when he gets near you.

Short Movie by Laura Marling (Album Review)

Review of Short Movie by Laura Marling

With some claiming the art of albums is diminishing with music listeners preferring to create playlist and their own mini-compilations or mix tapes, it seems to be effecting the artists themselves.  Yes albums are still being made and the big names are still selling.  However very few albums are being created that capture a real story or feel like a complete body of work.  Enter Laura Marling.

Review of Laura Marling Short Movie

Review of Laura Marling Short Movie

Whilst Marling may not be in music’s elite she has flourished and is one of the mainstays of the British folk scene emergence in to mainstream commercial music.  In saying this 25 year old Marling has relocated to the US with a view to professionalising her output.

Its been over six years since Laura Marling received widespread critical acclaim for her debut album Alas, I Cannot Swim and Short Movie is her fifth album.  A slightly longer than normal break since her last offering Once I Was An Eagle has obviously been well spent.  The creative progress and emerging style that Marling displays on Short Movie, demonstrates time well spent.  She feels more in tune with who she is as an artist and has set herself a clear direction to ensure genuine currency and longevity in a competitive industry.

The US influence is obvious in opening track Warrior.  The country enthused backing track and different production and editing techniques to her previous albums show she has a real US commercial understanding whilst maintaining a desire to stay true to her art.

The title track, Short Movie and Worship Me are great displays of Laura Marling’s undoubted talent.  Real meaning to the songs that are delivered in an honest and engaging manner.

The album overall showcases the vocal ability and range of Laura Marling.  Short Movie is a genuinely honest album which provides and engaging and almost intimate feel to the listener.  It is short of bells and whistles. There are no dance elements. There are limits to the Taylor Swift pop-ability to the tracks. However all of this is what makes the album a good listen.

The melodies are stirring and there are genuine hints of classic singers from yesteryear.  Laura Marling also displays her production skills in the album highlights, further evidence that she has developed as an artist and has a true passion for her music.

If I had one piece of advice to those that have never listened to folk or those that have touched it in the past. Take a listen to Laura Marling.  She may open your eyes to an emerging genre.  If not, then you will experience a great listen.  Short Movie by Laura Marling is nothing short of genre busting. Laura Marling is not folk, folk is Laura Marling.

Get Your Kit Out – On-Music BRIO Speaker

Get Your Kit Out – On-Music BRIO Speaker

There is a craze at the moment with ultra portable speakers.  With the quality of streaming music improving and the quality and availability of smartphones at saturation point, there is no wonder this craze is gaining momentum.  It was great that the lovely people at On-Music gave us one of their BRIO portable speakers to have a listen to

Design

On-Music BRIO Speaker

On-Music BRIO Speaker

The On-Music BRIO speaker is a compact little speaker.  Designed to create a small spherical type shape, the version we were given has a neat Union Jack design on it.  The unit opens up to create an expanded shape with a black accordion style middle.  The design is neat and compact and fits its objective of being extremely portable.

The Sound

Unlike a number of these portable speakers the On-Music BRIO speaker holds a really good sound.  The majority of these units suffer from tinny sounds and distortion at loud or heavy bass sounds.  In addition they generally struggle at varying volumes with the steps from low to high difficult to capture.

The BRIO speaker is actually a bit of an exception.  When connected to your device using the wire the sound is almost flawless.  Picking up the various tones and equally at home with heavy guitars as it is with heavy bass.  When using the bluetooth option the quality does deteriorate ever so slightly, however not as much as some others.

Obviously the BRIO speaker won’t boast the power or quality of some of the less portable options from the likes of Bowers & Wilkins, Bose or Sonos. But as a portable unit it does offer good quality sound.

Set-up

The BRIO speaker was ridiculously simple to set-up.  No apps or settings are needed to make the device work.  No software to use as a mixer or synth, in fact it was a genuine simple plug and play.  No problems at all here.

The Technical Bit

OK not so technical, but usage.  The battery on the BRIO speaker is long lasting when not playing on the wire.  The quality of the device and ruggedness means there is unlikely to be any potential damage through general usage.

On-Music BRIO speaker

On-Music BRIO speaker

Summary

The device is tiny and uber portable.  The quality of sound and ease of use makes the BRIO speaker an obvious recommendation.  Don’t expect first class quality of sound that you could run a party from, but its high quality sound would enhance any outdoor party, barbecue or picnic.

Rating 4/5 – If you like to take your music on the go, look no further than the On-Music BRIO speaker.  

Like the sound of this? You can get your hands on the On-Music BRIO speaker right here

Introducing Mac

Introducing Mac and his mixtape Trap Season

When I received this mail through to review this mixtape –  I don’t know what i was expecting to here but I did get quite a surprise. I was expecting a grime/urban style MC mixtape with a lot of rapping and lyrical flows, this was not however what I got. The mixtape is by a music producer and owner of #Poanwot Ent called Mac who is from Birmingham.

Introducing Mac and Trap Season

Introducing Mac

As  music producer I was expecting a lot of beats and this is exactly what I get. I listened to the mixtape from start to finish and my first impression was that the beats could be worked on but there was definitely an element of creativity in them. A few of the tracks did sound very much mixed from older beats and songs in particular number 7 ‘Bae Riddim‘ the only thing I could hear through it was Tinie Tempah‘s ‘Wifey‘. Not that this is a bad thing as I very much love that song, but I feel that the mixtape lacks a lot of individuality. A few of the other tracks are very futuristic sounding and almost game sound effects sounding.

I guess that for a start it is an okay listen, and some artists may especially find it useful and interesting to listen to as they would be able to MC over the top and mix a musically creative flow. However, I do think that they need to find their own niche and try mixing a few original beats as this will make it stand out from the crowd in future and would grab peoples attention.

Although it wasn’t exactly to my taste or liking I do suppose artists would find it good and I think that by working on a unique sound it would definitely appeal to them a lot more.

Overall a good effort in a mixtape release and very best of luck getting it out there. I would always encourage people to work towards their dreams and find their own market and fan base. Find out more about Mac here

By Natalie Combey-Yildiz

Introducing Electric Koolade

Introducing Electric-Koolade

A new band Electric-Koolade only formed a month ago has started to light the streets of Brighton.  Calling themselves a Psychedelic Surf Rock Band (OK I might be getting old but WTF is that?) they have already put together five tracks that are definitely worth a listen.  Their influences appear mixed – but you can see a bit of Lou Reed, The Beatles, Pixies and some less known roots such as Loop and the fantastically named Camper Van Beethoven all in there.  This isnt shoegazing and is something fresher and more vibrant.
Introducing Electric Koolade

Introducing Electric Koolade

What makes this new trio exciting are the tight lyrics and grimy vocals.  They are made up of Timmy Burns (drums), Ryan Duffin (guitar) and Vincent Dellow (vocals and bass).
You broke my heart‘ is a great start and whilst the Moon might be love this poor soul has his heart broken and resorts to drugs as an alternative.
My fathers eyes‘ melds wailing music and lyrics together to tell a story about a son who can never live up to his fathers expectations.
I hope its you‘ is a parody on the Beatles and wouldn’t go too far amiss hidden away somewhere in “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“. As with all their tracks the lyrics are not jumbled together and nonsensical – so listen to these as well as the music.
We could be together‘ is the least dark of this pack of songs and has shades of the swinging sixties but brought up to date.
Their latest track ‘Government‘ is a mournful lament against the government and life in general.   Clearly experimental for the band with a different sound and pace.
So for their first handful of tracks and very interesting mix.  Given that all these tracks were put together from scratch so quickly its an exciting start for this young band. Nuff said.
If you want to see more of Electric-Koolade or contact the band you can see more at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Electric-Koolade/1407789866193938?fref=ts
If you want to see more of Electric-Koolade or contact the band you can see more at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Electric-Koolade/1407789866193938?fref=ts

If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late by Drake (Review)

Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

With the success of Nothing Was The Same and Take Care, Drake is undoubtedly at the forefront of his music career. Internationally renowned, you won’t find many people who would say they haven’t heard or at least enjoyed a single from the Canadian born rapper.

Canadian Rapper Drake

Canadian Rapper Drake

There is a minority of artists within the RnB/Hip Hop industry that Drake hasn’t collaborated with, so what was Aubrey Drake Graham (real name) to do next?

In an unexpected turn of events, he only went and pulled a Beyoncé on us! Drake dropped his mixtape/album without prior announcement through a link on his personal twitter account. Surely no one can pull off a stunt like this, with the exception of Queen B herself, right? Wrong – after three days of sales If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late topped the Billboard 200 charts.

If You're Reading This Its Too Late by Drake Review

If You’re Reading This Its Too Late by Drake Review

So, after all the initial hype I was desperate to find out what all the fuss was about. As a Drake fan I expected big things – songs too love and play repeatedly for the next few weeks (until eventually receiving the air time deserved), or tracks that make it onto my ‘Sunday’ playlist – dedicated time to enjoy good music.

This time around was no different, Drake was consistent in delivering great tracks with melodies that complemented the lyrical master class given. You hear it from the man himself (in the self-titled track Legend) “I’m too good with these words, If I die all I know is I’m a mothafuckin’ legend”.

Critics may highlight Drake’s fierce complaining and overall grumpiness portrayed on If you’re reading this it’s too late, but that’s the beauty of it. Gone are the days where it’s all about the bitches and the drinks (a tragically titled collaboration between Trey Songz and T.I.)

Highlights include Used To, featuring fellow YMCMB member Lil Wayne and Now & Forever, which allows for a small display of vocal ability alongside the usual rapping. Not one for over killing auto tune, I can confirm having seen Drake perform live (at the Manchester Arena) he can indeed hold a note or two.

Overall, I congratulate Drake on another successful album and in becoming one step closer to achieving an all-time great stature. He may not currently have the title fellow rapper Jay Z upholds, however I am a firm believer that there is only better things to come.

My recommendation, allow yourself time and you will enjoy. If not, await the arrival of Views From The 6.

Review by Claudia Ledger