Title by Meghan Trainor (Album Review)

Review of Title by Meghan Trainor

Meghan Trainor is one of the hottest names in pop at the moment, largely thanks to the huge track All About That Bass.  She is on a huge promo initiative at the moment appearing on everything and of course on a large-scale tour.  So just to compound the noise her album is out on Monday.  But will she be a Rebecca Black type flash in the pan or have some longevity?

The album is without doubt quite twee and definitely fits in the bubblegum pop genre.  Its upbeat, full of pop hooks and some pretty standard pop composition.  That being said Meghan does actually stand for something a bit more.  Yes All About That Bass was an annoyingly catch track that got caught in your head and was covered by everybody, but it did have a message.  It spoke about body image and the fact that you can still be gorgeous even if your not “stick thin” or “silicone Barbie”.

Meghan Trainor new album Title Review

Meghan Trainor new album Title Review

Dear Future Husband is a real pop track with cutesy music and very mainstream rap at the beginning.  But again, there is a message and pretty good messages for young girls who may be listening.  Essentially telling future husband that they need to treat Meghan in the right way.

The majority of the tracks have a pretty cookie cutter approach and then along comes Like I’m Gonna Lose You and along comes quite a strong sounding ballad.  The duet features a great male vocal that has that distinctly familiar feel to it.  On listening a little deeper, it is none other than the brilliant John Legend.  Now this track on its own shows Meghan Trainor is a cut above some others in her niche.  She delivers really strong and emotional vocal that matched Legend at every moment.  Definitely the highlight of the album.

Walkashame is a fun track, poking fun at that awkward “walk of shame” moment.  A real light hearted look at the issues and how she feels when this happens.  The annoyingly titled, title track of the album Title is pretty much the same as some of the others, light hearted lyrics with infectious pop hooks.

Whilst Meghan Trainor‘s album Title may not get played in years to come, this is a positive collection of music.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously and handles issues that late teen, early twenties girls may encounter.  It deals with them in a mature and fun way and all laced on top of good pop music.

Meghan Trainor will definitely be around for a while on the basis of this album.  Don’t take this too seriously, just kick back and listen to it.  You will probably even find yourself dancing around and at the very least, singing or humming one or two of the hooks.

Let us know what you think by adding a comment below, tweeting @MusicEyz or by giving us your view on the Music Eyz Facebook page. Remember, you can follow Meghan Trainor on Twitter as well

Modern Nature by The Charlatans (Album Review)

Review of Modern Nature by The Charlatans

After the horrible experience last year when the boys lost drummer Jon Brookes to brain cancer, The Charlatans must have had a lot of soul searching to do.  There must have been some questions over their very existence as a band.  Thankfully, if there was, they were short lived and The Charlatans are back with new album Modern Nature.

Review of Modern Nature by The Charlatans

Review of Modern Nature by The Charlatans

So important was Brookes influence, the gap was filled by three established performers on percussion.  Pete Salisbury of The Verve, New Order‘s Stephen Morris and Gabriel Gurnsey of Factory Floor.

The opening track is a bit of a let down and sends worries in to the mind, but any fears can be allayed by the start of track two So Oh. This is a great upbeat number that is an early highlight of the album.  The great bassline that accompanies the backing is something that you may find on a Hip Hop track rather than from some indie boys from the Black Country.

The album is almost part of the path to recovery from an absent friend, and written for Jon and the others. and the others.  Perhaps the best example of this can be found in Keep Enough.  Let The Good Times Never End is in my opinion the strongest track.  The track hints at elements of The Doors and a hark back to The Charlatans of yesteryear.

The opener may have been a bit low, but in the context of the whole album, it felt a bit like the start of the story.  Modern Nature is an emotional eulogy to absent friends.  But rather than the whole thing being downbeat, they have produced a homage in true spirit of The Charlatans and an album that Jon Brookes would have been proud of.

Vulnicura by Bjork

Review of Vulnicura by Bjork

When somebody says Iceland, many things spring to mind. Chicken Korma Lasagne, Peter Andre or perhaps Kerry Catona (mum of the year).  The slightly more intelligent may think of the very cold country that few of us have been to.  Well Bjork was once the name on everybody’s lips and Iceland’s own is back.

Review of Bjork Vulnicura

Review of Bjork Vulnicura

Bjork envelopes art, style and music with her own unique brand of eccentricity.  For this reason, its a shame that her new album Vulnicura had a rush released due to online leaks. The rushed release, preventing some of the theatre around Bjork to be explored is a shame and limits the latest offer to the perception of being just another pop album.  Bjork is more important than that.  Granted she won’t hit the commercial heights of a Beyonce, Taylor Swift or Rihanna, but she offers something extra. 

Thankfully Bjork delivers to her trademark and not those pop contemporaries mentioned above.  If you are looking for thumping bass lines, party bangers or compositions to dominate the airwaves, look elsewhere.  There isn’t even a track on the album with the instancy of “It’s Oh So Quiet” – this is all about Bjork.

The last sentence gives the impression that Vulnicura is a collection of self-indulgence, whilst this may be true, I prefer to think of it as a genuine look in to how Bjork’s mind operates.  This is a thinking man’s (or woman’s) piece.  You need to indulge your self in the lyrics, contemplate the myriad of composition in the music and lose yourself in deep consideration and contemplation.

You can expect some classical influences, with some amazing strings fused with some eerie electronic beats.  The sound may seem familiar, particularly to anybody that downloaded that app that accompanied Bjork’s previous album Biophilia.  It is understood that some of the tracks were actually made using this as a tool.  How Venezuelan producer Arca, got his head round these technological demands and understood Bjork’s inspiration, is beyond me, but he did.  His experience with the likes of Kanye and FKA Twigs was obviously stretched to its limit.

The highlights for me include opening track Stone Milker and Atom Dance, which features the lyrics of Antony Hegarty.  The individualism is perhaps underpinned by the ten minute long Black Lace (not to be confused by the singers of Agadoo).  I will possibly upset Bjork, Arca and every music critic across the land here, but this for me is the weak spot.  Its the only time when I think this is too much of a personal experiment, resulting in a little tedium.  Harsh? Maybe, but its my opinion.

On balance, Bjork has delivered a great concept here in the form of Vulnicura.  Yes its individual. No you won’t here it on Radio One. And No, its unlikely even one bit of content will feature in the Top 10.  That isn’t such a bad thing.  Bjork shows us her world and part of me, would like to pay a little visit.  Would I like to live there? Probably not :-)

Uptown Special by Mark Ronson (Album Review)

Review of Uptown Special by Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson positioned himself in a place of authority with his seminal album Version producing some of the best collaborations in contemporary music.  Utilising his black book of contacts thanks to his amazing talent as a producer and writer, Ronson went on to produce a great album that on paper shouldn’t have worked.  The mix of covers and original material worked a treat and few could argue the Mark Ronson’s talent and position at the lead table of British pop.

Review of Mark Ronson Uptown Special

Review of Mark Ronson Uptown Special

Potentially the biggest success of that album was the link up with friend and London legend Amy Winehouse.  Valerie worked its way in to the psyche of British music lovers, so much so, that if left a whole new generation thinking that the Ronson/Winehouse creation was in fact the original.

Since that point, many music buyers will have thought Mark Ronson had vanished.  Well not at all, he has been busy composing, writing and producing for a whole list of established artists.  It is also down to the super-quick ever evolving platform that is music, which has supported the notion that Ronson may have vanished.

So has Ronson kept himself current?  Is his album a modern masterpiece with a current feel or is the current Bruno Mars led single the only highlight?

Leave that last thought well and truly to the back of your head.  Uptown Special isn’t just a newer version of Version.  Uptown Special leads heavily on the soul vibe we know Ronson for, but the album over him on a level. Less brash and including sounds with hip hop, disco and funk, the sound has evolved but still has a nod to yesteryear.  This means that Uptown Special, perhaps even more so than Version, should have longevity and give it a place in our playlists (or for you older folk libraries) for years to come.

How Mark Ronson does this I will never know.  But he has once again got a couple of stellar guests.  Obviously we all know the Bruno Mars track and gives a great flavour of Ronson’s ability to play to his artists strength, without just producing another track for them.  They all have a unique Ronson flavour.  Stevie Wonder is a great coup to have on the album.

Now Uptown Funk is a great track that has delivered ridiculous numbers both side of the pond, however, that isn’t even the highlight.  That honour falls to Leaving Los Feliz.  Whilst it may not be the track that pushes millions of units, the dreamy funk, reminiscent of “the good old days” is a masterpiece.  Daffodils is all good as well for completely different reasons (heavily bass laden) – but in that last paragraph, I think album is summed up.  Great mix of styles, excellent production and some chart bangers.

Welcome back Mr Mark Ronson

Music Eyz Podcast 01

Music Eyz Podcast 01

05.01.15

How you find out about new tunes is a mindset. You can be either passive about it and give in to being fed tunes by your local or national radio stations only or you can go looking for them yourself. I choose the latter and damn have I found some good tunes out there, for me that is. It’s not about listening to what everyone else is listening to, it’s about listening to what you like and no one can tell you what to like.

We’re going to give this podcast thing a go. Here are some of the bands that turned our heads in 2014 and heading into 2015 are still grabbing our attention with their craftsmanship as musicians.

1. DARLINGJust One Look from their new EP out 30th Jan. Playing the Sugar Club, Dublin 31st Jan.

2. The TAPESTRY (4:40) – Infatuation from their new single out 21st Jan. Playing Band on the Wall, Manchester 7th Feb.

3. NO HOT ASHES (9:20) – Goose from their current single. Playing the Deaf Institute, Manchester 30th Jan.

4. SISTERAY (15:00) – Take it Away from their first single before She Likes the Drama, a cracking follow up EP. Working on new material. Playing The Old Queens Head, London 27th Jan.

Inaugural Podcast featuring Sisteray

Inaugural Podcast featuring Sisteray

5. The VELOCETS (19:50) – Secrets. Currently grafting away. Playing Band on the Wall, Manchester 23rd Jan.

6. TURRENTINE JONES (25:00) – Moonlight Is On Yer Side from their debut album Our Days. Playing the Deaf Institute, 30th Jan. (The Maze Nottingham 29th Jan)

7. The HOT SPROCKETS (29:50) – Soul Brother from their second album Brother Nature. New EP out Licks from the Vault. I’m still recovering from their Xmas gig.

8. RED EMPIRE (34:00) – Deliver Me. New EP out Feb and debut album on the way. Playing the Lethean Bar, Portlaoise 25th Jan.

9. ABNER BROWNS (39:30) – a wickedly good barber shop with a twist.

A big shout out to Mr Peeps, a true gentleman. Nice one.

Now, all you have to do is, press play…

by Nicola Timmons

Introduction to Nire

Introduction to Nire (US DJ and remixer)

Our stateside team uncover a few gems from time to time.  Not often though that a US native has such a big european influence.  Nire is a US-based DJ and remixer that lives and breathes music.  She uncovers rare tunes, loves UK and European sounds and makes them relevant to European audiences and both coasts of the USA.

Introducing DJ and Remixer Nire

Introducing DJ and Remixer Nire

Here is a quick intro to some of the sounds on her soundcloud. Check it out if you fancy something new.

(1.) “BR Right Trina Nire Princess Business”-
What a independent strong Cleopatra kickin ass and taking names charisma with the power of the Amazonian Warrior’s thrust of the javellin flying through the glass roof Nire energizes the scene into the next chapter….enter:

(2.)  ‘Hanging on Ellie Goulding Nire Feel this remix”-
We crystalise  the sonic  view through the essence of a lusting and longing sirens croon through diamond cut veils , ambiently nodding into  a trance similar to  my upcoming memories of the late night belly dancers in the spice melange dens of  Arakis….as we flip in slow motion backwards our innermost explodes like a butterfly emerging from her cocoon and unfolds the wings similar to Nire powerful and succulent  remix to:

(3.) ” No Angel Beyonce Nire Bootleg”-
The Queens Gotham Megatroplois Houston Brooklyn Empire Revision , the troops march on and the Goonies never say Die is the bangy bang crunch of the soul rebellious theme in this symphony of beat breaks and with the overlord Justifying Our Love giving the thumbs up of approval to the Phoenix ferocious Sasha successfully hailing all confident and optimistic….

(4.) “Warriors MIA  Nire edit”-
To embark into the mythological desert terrains in golden  bullet proof crusted travel pods , warm abotomys bumping to the tabla enfused grooves while pumping in fetal positions and then expanding like the flower blossom with  electrifying spectrum combusts of the thunderous and volcanic eruptions between the protectors of the ancient purest oases ( Oh way seas) versuse the onces who presume because they only saw their humanoid primate foot prints in the noir and pink sands its an ideology of

(5.) “Finders Keepers Gnucci” –
So we have really travelled through time and space on this cochlea journey, its like the unwinding of a snail shell, the melting of sand into glass and the streaming of warm air shooting out the orcha’s blowhole. We hold onto our memories that we perceive are most important yet in the near future through brain acupuncture and digitalising the subconscious and the mundane elements of dream stream consciousness, the finders keepers will be the ones who will collect our emotions our gut instinct of  vinyl gnawing into the wireless utopian age of the yin yang merger.

Check out Nire on Soundcloud 

Follow Nire on Twitter

Introduction courtesy of SIPE Star Studio

Hot Sprockets in Vicar Street, Dublin (Gig Review)

The Hot Sprockets gig – Vicar Street 21.12.14

Come here ’til I tell yez…there was a rip roaring party in Vicar Street last night. The Xmas night of the Yuletide season in Dublin took place and I would imagine the authorities were calling in roofers to Vicar Street this morning to check out the wreckage done to its roof slates. The wreckage in my ears right now is quite possibly related to the next stage in my decline into old age, the onslaught of tinnitus, however I suspect the condition of it was exacerbated by the fiercely, fast paced live sound of the Hot Sprockets last night. But I don’t care. That’s rock ‘n roll for you baby and boy was I hailed coming home from the gig as “the queen of picking the bands” by my plus one. He bought the tee-shirt on the way out the door and handed it to me saying “Here. Fair play to ya. Christ!”

Review of Hot Sprockets gig in Dublin

Review of Hot Sprockets gig in Dublin

Yes indeed. 

The night started off for us when we caught The Eskies segment which were the perfect lead on to the Hot Sprockets. Giving Shani Willis a run for her money The Eskies had us swinging from the rafters quicker than you could sing Oom-pah Pah. The bearded men in the audience joining in chorus to Down By the River, Fever, the recent release Jesus Don’t Save Me and Jailhouse Sun. The Eskies put in an absolute smashing performance. Their style of play, charismatic engagement with the audience, shoulder biting displays of affection, cheeky background visuals and downright, damn fine musicians had the crowd exactly where the Hot Sprockets would have liked us to have been, on our starting blocks, engines nicely running and adrenaline sharp and ready to rev. 

 

A quick run to the loo, the bar and we were back in fine fettle for a Formula One style changeover between the bands. The Hot Sprockets walked quickly onstage, suited up in no time and immediately dropped the flag on the action and Holy Shee-ite was there steam and power firing from band to audience and back again. From the first to the final lap it was a truly outstanding gig and an amazing feeling of experiencing something really great in a step back in time fashion to 70s blues rock and rock ‘n roll but without sounding too retro. These guys are top class. What it is, they have it. What it takes, they’ve got it. 

Kicking it off with Show Me the Weight from their recent second album Brother Nature and playing tunes from their first, Honey Skippin’, the drummer was for me out of the top drawer and drove the guys from track to track in a Stereophonics style of play I saw in The Point in 2005. The guitars, aw man the guitars, the presence, the vocals, the attire, the look and feel of this band, the backing singers, the background visuals, the atmosphere, the energy, the tunes….ohhhh the tunes and not a weak one amongst them. It was electric and gig porn at its best, enticing my senses, teasing my eyes and pleasuring my ears. I was dazed in a haze of sheer musical brilliance and they got me. Oh boy they got me.

When Heavy On My Mind came on my fellow bearded men nodded in acknowledgment of my “Awwwwww yyyyyeahhhh” comment. It was then that I decided to write this, “Dear Paul (Manager of the Hot Sprockets), it is now time to change the lads’ occupation on their passports from musicians to ROCKSTARS”. 

We were treated to new material from their EP, Licks from the Vault and here is their very recent release from it, Head Over Heels. The visuals of their live performance during it, is a perfect reflection of the gig I witnessed last night. 

These guys come into their own when performing live. They have a razor sharp edge and an ability to enthrall you beyond the norm and I will see them play live again next year, oh that I will. 

To The Hot Sprockets, “Holy Mary, Mother of Perpetual Succour! I salute you and thank you for an amazing night at Vicar Street”.

To The Eskies, “Up the Parish, yeeeeeooowwww”.

Review by Nicola Timmons

Spaces by One Direction (Review)

Review of 1D – Spaces

One Direction Spaces

One Direction Spaces

Ok lets face it 1D are a few of ours guilty pleasure. OK well maybe not quite. Taken from forthcoming album releaseFour‘, Spaces has everything you’d expect and even more, the classic surround sound production, polished solo vocals and the heartfelt meaningful lyrics that some will no doubt have some read more into them than others…’Who’s gonna to be the first to say goodbye’…’Spaces between us’.  Spaces demonstrates a mature and tougher sounding One Direction, that differentiates them from the other ‘looky likey’ bands.  And with more dates added to their UK tour in 2015 and further worldwide domination hitting countries like the Philippines, we should celebrate 1D for spreading global ‘Britishness’, as well as simply making just good records.

Review by Jacqui Wright

Introducing Kyra and Her Track Bandages

Introducing Kyra and her latest signature track ‘Bandages’ from the EP of the same title.

The track ‘Bandages‘ was co-written by Maiday (Girls Aloud, Leona Lewis) and Fred Cox (Etta Bond, MNEK)
In 2012, Kyra experienced a personal tragedy, her brother Carl who had just turned 26 sadly passed away from Cancer, there was only 3 months from diagnosis to death.  Kyra had a need to express her emotional sadness during this time and used her love for songwriting to do so and ‘Bandages‘ was born.  The song is about comfort and hope in those times of complete despair.
KYRA Bandages

KYRA Bandages

The track opens with the soft strum of the guitar, it has a slight Latin sound to it, after a short intro, the beautiful voice of Kyra accompanies it. Kyra has such a clear tone to her voice, you can hear the emotion behind the lyrics that tells a story and if you listen behind the track you will hear the wonderful sound of a string instrument, my guess it’s the Cello. The track ‘Bandages‘ is a relaxed, simple yet elegant song and knowing the reason behind the lyrics brought a tear to my eye, it’s a song written for anyone who faces this kind of emotional struggle. The video is shot with Kyra walking through what looks like the streets of London, this is a song most of us can relate too.
I recommend you listen to ‘Bandages‘ when you have a quiet moment to interpret the lyrics and the gorgeous vocals by Kyra, in contrast have a listen to Kyra cover RudimentalsWaiting all Night‘ it’s one of the best versions that I have heard.
Review by Tina Robinson

Catfish And The Bottlemen at Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (Gig Review)

Review of Catfish and the Bottlemen Gig in Nottingham

It seems I can’t turn on a radio show or pick up a mainstream music publication without the name Catfish and The Bottlemen name being mentioned.  Their huge support is led by luminary Zane Lowe.

Now this demonstrates my ignorance but up until a couple of months ago I had never heard of them.  Also until recently I had never heard of MTV’s hit show Catfish, so my immediate thought was to link the two.  Was this some kind of clever PR stunt? Was it actually some catfish types that hung round with bottle wielding yobs?  Obviously I didn’t let that misconception linger for too long and actually bothered to look them up. Obviously I couldn’t be further from the truth.

Catfish and the Bottlemen Gig

Catfish and the Bottlemen Gig

Guitar playing welsh four-piece are causing quite a stir.  Their debut album The Balcony entered the Top 10 in September and they were also recently named Best New Band at the debut BBC Music Awards

Often acts are quite blasé where awards are concerned.  Catfish and the Bottlemen do not fit that mould.  The gong took pride of place at the Nottingham gig on centre stage, sat neatly on the frontman’s amp.

The band entered the stage to a massive fanfare, somewhat reminiscent of a boxer’s ring entrance.  Smoke filled the stage, strobe lights erupted for a prolonged period that would have induced a fit in many and a huge backdrop of strong music.  Definitely not what we are used to seeing from modern indie acts.

None of this was a distraction though, in fact, it got the crowd just where the band wanted them.  The connection between band and adoring fans was clear and quite unusual in modern live music.  They loved the performance of latest single Pacifier and throughout the entire show the crowd were seen bouncing as one.  It was almost like frontman Van McCann was in control of a giant puppet show as he moved them all with uniform ease.

Performances of Kathleen and Homesick were memorable moments, the vocals delivered with aplomb supported with quality backing.  Not that you could properly critique the performances as the crowd drowned out McCann.  This was eclipsed when McCann completely removed himself from the equation for moments within the anthem Cocoon.  Maybe McCann’s mum was in the crowd, because he allowed them to sing the eff’s and jeff’s – he is such a good boy mum, honest!

For me, the quality of the performance was undeniable.  McCann in particular is a real showman.  Leading the crowd with experience that belies their relative infant career. Catfish and the Bottlemen definitely have something.  If they can continue this momentum, one can assume they will be returning to the BBC Music Awards next year to pick up another award.