Top 6 Picks for 2000trees 2017

I’ll be heading to this year’s 2000trees Festival on behalf of CSRfm, alongside my moshing companion Jack Hadaway-Weller.

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Are you new to the scene? Or undecided on who to check out? I’ve put together my top 6 picks out of this year’s line-up, including names both big and small, so have a look through them below and see if any tickle your fancy…

Milk Teeth

I have seen Milk Teeth twice before. The first was nearly two years ago on the main stage at Hevy Fest and, if I’m honest, they seemed a bit flat; the second was in March this year at the Electric Ballroom in Camden and they were much much better, creating a far better energy. They showed a huge development in terms of both sound and confidence and, if their latest single “Owning Your Okayness” (one of my songs of 2017 so far) is anything to go by, the only way is up for the British four-piece.

Where? Main Stage.
When? Saturday, third band on.  

Decade

The five-piece from Bath dropped their second studio album ‘Pleasantries’ earlier this year, and what an album it was. Their sound does give you a nostalgia for the heyday of pop-punk/rock, but does so whilst still sounding fresh and exciting. I am yet to see the band live but, having followed them for a while with my show, they’re right up there for me in terms of “must-see” bands for this year’s 2000trees.

Where? Main Stage.
When? Friday, second band on.

Pulled Apart By Horses

Their fourth studio album ‘The Haze’ was released in March of this year and it scored 4 or 5 star reviews across the board. Pulled Apart By Horses are a band that continue to tip-toe around the mainstream without getting fully drawn in, which I’m a fan of – much like The Subways, who I can’t help but liken them to both in that sense and in terms of their sound. They’re headlining one of the stages and I can’t wait.

Where? The Axiom Stage.
When? Thursday, headliners.

Honeyblood

The Scottish duo released their second studio album ‘Babes Never Die’ back in November and seem to be really hitting their stride. Incorporating various branches of the rock family tree, Honeyblood create a full and mesmerising live sound. They may be one of the lightest acts on the line-up, with regards to decibels, but definitely worth catching.

Where? Main Stage / Forest Sessions Stage.
When? Saturday, 6th band on / Saturday, fourth band on.

The One Hundred

Just listen to “Dark Matters” and you’ll know exactly why this is on my list; I expect the crowd for their set to be nothing short of carnage. The single dropped earlier this year and they have since released one more single in the form of “Monster”. The One Hundred seem to be the middle ground between the currently-reviving rap metal scene of Hacktivist and co. and the more electronic, drum and bass sounds of Pendulum. Not a bad combination, eh?

Where? The Cave Stage.
When? Saturday, fifth band on.

Vukovi

The Scottish four-piece have had one heck of a 2017 so far, releasing their killer self-titled debut album in March and touring here, there and everywhere. I saw them at Tunbridge Wells Forum a few weeks back and they were a breath of fresh air; a young, four-piece rock band having a heck of a time on stage, whilst still sounding incredibly tight. If you look up “Vukovi gig reviews”, you’ll be inundated with 5-star responses and it’s easy to see why.

Where? The Axiom Stage.
When? Friday, fourth band on.

Elsewhere on the line-up are the likes of Slaves, Mallory Knox, Pulled Apart By Horses, Deaf Havana and Lower Than Atlantis.

Be sure to tune in to CSRfm at 9pm on Thursday 29th June for a more elaborate list of my picks for this year’s 2000trees.

See the full line-up poster here:

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Musical Picks of 2016

Album of the Year: ‘13 Voices’ by Sum 41

When I heard that Sum 41 would be releasing a sixth studio album, I was unsure about what to expect. Most bands from that early 2000’s pop-punk generation are still recording and touring on a regular basis – Blink 182, Good Charlotte, Bowling For Soup, etc. – but they all seem to have lost most of that original grit and attitude that had me so obsessed when they first burst into the mainstream. This album was different, though. Deryck Whibley, Sum 41’s frontman, has faced a long battle against alcoholism with 2014 being his lowest point, when he was supposedly one drink away from death. He has since got his life back on track and channelled all of his energy and emotion back into music, with this album being the result.

The first single released, ‘Fake My Own Death’, was huge. It was a statement of intent by the band, declaring that their comeback had a real purpose behind it. The two subsequent singles, ‘War’ and ‘God Save Us All (Death To Pop)’, gave further evidence of its promise, with the former being the obligatory downbeat single and the latter bringing the tempo up again before the album release in October. What I found perhaps most surprising is how easy the album is to listen to from start to finish. It’s understandable as to why they chose the specific singles for release but, as an album, every single track plays its part. There is a flow and momentum that has been created which complement the raw emotions that are dealt with throughout.

Did nostalgia play a part in this choice? Probably, but that aforementioned pop-punk scene means more to me than can be described, so it is truly invaluable that one of the fundamental bands of that scene could return in 2016 with a genuine vengeance and prove that they are still (for want of a better phrase) the dog’s b#llocks.

Honourable mentions go to ‘Konnichiwa’ by Skepta, ‘The Serenity of Suffering’ by Korn and ‘Congratulations’ by Holy Pinto.

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Song of the Year: ‘Wolves of Winter’ by Biffy Clyro

There are very few bands around that produce music as consistently brilliant as Biffy Clyro, in my opinion. ‘Wolves Of Winter’ was the first single to be released from their latest album ‘Ellipsis’ and it quite simply epitomises everything that Biffy represent; big guitars, big choruses and constant shifts in dynamics and rhythmic structures, all glued together with an indescribable combination of honesty and charm. I very nearly swore on air when talking about this track as a guest on the CSR Review Show, I was that immediately taken by it.

Honourable mentions go to X21by The Wholls, Fade by Kanye West and 24K Magicby Bruno Mars.

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Gig of the Year: Creeper, Tunbridge Wells Forum

I’ve been to some amazing shows this year, but this choice was an absolute no-brainer. I didn’t even know who Creeper were before I went; I just went along with some friends who had previously seen them at a pub in Canterbury. What I came away with from the gig though was nothing short of an obsession. The high-energy punk tracks, the slow and swaying  ballads, the catchy melodies, the long hair, the leather jackets, the camaraderie created between the band and the crowd. Literally every aspect of their live show, of their music and of their entire image I have completely fallen in love with.

Honourable mentions go to The Enemy at the Kentish Town Forum, David Gilmour at the Royal Albert Hall, The Cure at Wembley Arena and Slam Dunk Festival at the South site in Hatfield.

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What I’m looking forward to in 2017…

Response. For many, 2016 was a year to forget in terms of politics (take your pick) and the loss of musical icons. So what I hope is for a burst of socially-charged music in response to what has been taking place around the world… who knows, maybe a real Rage Against The Machine reunion instead of this Prophets of Rage nonsense?

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Happy 2017, one and all. 

‘Congratulations’ by name, ‘Congratulations’ by nature

On Thursday 7th April, Canterbury duo Holy Pinto put on one hell of a show for the release of their appropriately named debut album ‘Congratulations’ via Soft Speak Records.

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Held at The Ballroom in Canterbury’s town centre, in association with Beautiful Town Music, the party was kicked off by University of Kent student Ross Hurley. An acoustic artist who has been very active over the past year or two, Ross played a cool and collected set touching on various branches of the pop/punk/emo spectrum and was the ideal opener for the night. What followed was a rather intense set by Tokyo Tea Room. This Kent-based quintet create a dense yet intricate wall of sound, combining distorted guitars with haunting vocal melodies. The ambience created was quite a drastic contrast to the previous set but simply engaged the audience further. Then was a band that I was personally looking forward to, as I was yet to see them perform live – Canterbury’s grunge trio, Yungest Son. What they brought was a raw, punchy energy. They played the kind of set where each song was punctuated by a blur of feedback and a swig of a beer. I  was a big fan.

The three warm-up acts are all hot names in and around Canterbury’s live music scene and they all justified that very fact in their respective sets. Then came the pièce de résistance: Holy Pinto‘s headline set.

Ryan and Aymen, accompanied by one of their session bassists Patrick Channon, played a flawless off-the-cuff set. On a night where friends and family had gathered, the overwhelming mood really was one of celebration. My personal highlight? When they came to one of their signature tracks ‘Best Pals’, they paused after singing the word ‘tequila’ to each have a shot and then, when the breakdown came at the climax of the song (3:18), the whole crowd was bopping, dancing and shaking their hips.

Quite appropriately, they ended their set with the title track ‘Congratulations’ and almost a sigh of relief of “we’ve done it”. An awful lot of planning had gone into that night and of course the album itself, so that was quite a special moment.

What lays ahead for the boys of Holy Pinto? Well they’re imminently heading out on tour around the UK with Victor Villarreal and Atlas : Empire, playing shows in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds and London to name but a few cities. They’re also playing at Canterbury’s City Sound Project over the May bank holiday weekend.

You can get a copy of Holy Pinto’s debut LP from their BandCamp page here: https://holypinto.bandcamp.com/ …there are even vinyl pressings of it available, for all the hipsters out there (myself included).

Keep an eye on these guys. They’re pretty great.

Sunday Cinema Club, The Ballroom

 

It is approaching the time of year when Canterbury’s high street becomes, once again, a sea of tourists and school children; understandably to the displeasure of many year-round inhabitants. Fortunately, our pocket-sized city has a reputation for its quirky hotspots of music and entertainment that have always seemed to maintain a level of exclusivity – something that we all love to indulge in from time to time, right? One of the latest editions to this little scene is the Sunday Cinema Club.

Every few weeks, The Ballroom on Orange Street transforms into a cinema far cooler than anything that any commercial cinema can offer. With tickets sold by the sofa (though individual tickets are also available) and theme-appropriate cocktails and snacks, it really is the perfect way to wind down at the end of a week.

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January brought us the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski, Valentine’s Day brought us Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona and cult classic True Romance and March, in a toast to Leo’s long-awaited Oscar win, was none other than the glamor and extravagance of The Great Gatsby.

You can enter the venue an hour before the viewing begins, allowing plenty of time to get cosy in your sofa, have a drink or two and get started on your complimentary pot of sweets and treats. There were two one-off cocktails available: the Beautiful Little Fool, which is a cocktail of elderflower liqueur, prosecco and spring water, served over candy floss and a 23ct gold leaf; and the Mint Julep, consisting of Maker’s Mark bourbon, sugar, Angostura bitters and fresh mint. Also available was hot chocolate with cream and toasted marshmallows, alongside the venue’s usual menu of beers, cocktails and mixers. I personally opted for the Beautiful Little Fool, as the combination of alcohol and candy floss was something that was simply calling out to me and it didn’t disappoint.

The combination of Ballroom and Gatsby was a match made in heaven, with the ambience and charm of the film fitting in perfectly with the venue’s plump sofas, low-hanging chandeliers and candle light and, although I had seen the film a few times previously, this viewing was a whole new experience that was executed with great precision. Those behind Sunday Cinema Club seem to have a very clear vision of what they want their project to grow and become and, regardless of whether or not you are a film fanatic, what they have created is something that can be loved and appreciated by all.

Be sure to ‘like’ their page on Facebook and keep an eye out for their next installation: https://www.facebook.com/SundayCinemaCanterbury/

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Giacomo Palmieri

2015 Picks

Everyone loves an end-of-year musical reflection, so here’s mine. 

Name: Giacomo Palmieri

Song of the Year: “Shutdown” by Skepta (and subsequently Slaves)

Grime is a branch of rap that has its roots almost exclusively planted in the UK and 2015 was a year of resurgence for the genre; what this track seemed to do was give audiences around the UK no choice but to sit up and listen. The track is short yet lyrically striking, the beat is simple yet infectious and that is exactly what grime is about.

It was then taken in a different direction when Slaves covered the track in Radio One’s Live Lounge and did their subsequent live collaboration with Skepta at this year’s Big Weekend. It was a musical crossover that needed to happen; punk is to rock what grime is to rap. They’re both outsiders.

“Shutdown” will be looked back on in 2020 as one of the biggest British tracks of the decade, in my opinion, and I truly hope that this grime-punk crossover develops further.

Album of the Year: ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ by Kendrick Lamar

I’m not one to make a fuss of people’s critical success but when someone gets nominated for 11 Grammys in a year that they release just their third album, that’s something out of the ordinary.

Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 release, ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’, is an album that pushes boundaries. In production terms, I see it in a similar light to Kanye West’s 2010 album ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’; that was an album that, at the time, completely changed the game… Kendrick’s 2015 release may well prove to do the same.

Although many of the album’s tracks are great as stand-alone entities, TPAB is an album that works best when listened to as an album from start to finish. So many subtleties, like the gradual recital of the ‘Mortal Man’ poem with the album’s progression, fuse it together into one huge, unorthodox, jazz-inspired masterpiece.

I truly love it.

What’s more… Terry Crews performs a dance routine with Kendrick in the video for “These Walls”. Check it out, I dare you.

Shoutout to Jamie XX’s ‘In Colour’ that narrowly missed out on this prestigious title.

Gig of the Year: Rodrigo y Gabriela, Limerick, Ireland

This was a very diverse year for me, with regards to gigs attended; everything from George Ezra in Madrid on Valentine’s Day to Limp Bizkit at Brixton Academy as a warm-up show for their Reading & Leeds appearances… but there was one that stands out for being that little bit different.

Rodrigo y Gabriela, the Mexican acoustic guitar duo famed for their epic track “Tamacun” and their love of classic rock and metal, did a show in Limerick, Ireland. They are an act that I’ve been in awe of ever since I discovered them and have similarly longed to witness them live. So when a friend of mine bought tickets and told me about the cheap flights, I couldn’t say no.

Not only did I have an excuse to experience Ireland for the first time, but I was treated to one of the most intimate gigs that anyone could ever go to. It really was amazing.

Things I’m looking forward to in 2016: New guitar music

Although 2015 allowed me to fully indulge in my love of many parts of the musical spectrum, it has given me few reasons for celebration with regards to my first love: loud, guitar-based rock. Aside from Slaves’ bold debut album ‘Are You Satisfied?’ and Frank Turner’s ‘Positive Songs For Negative People’, very little caught my eye.

So what am I looking forward to? Something new, something fresh, a band that grabs their guitars by the scruff of the neck and forges their own brand of guitar-centric rock… hopefully not just Royal Blood resurfacing with a second album.

You’ll be able to see the whole article put together by CSR where we all take part in this reflection. It’ll be available on: www.csrfm.com

 

 

Nine Miles South – Camden, 4th September 2015

In the past two weeks, I have visited my two favourite parts of London for gigs – Brixton and Camden.

Brixton was a silly affair. Limp Bizkit played a warm-up show at the O2 Academy before heading to Reading and Leeds Festival and, for all intents and purposes, it was simply an excuse to rewind 10 or 15 years to when nu metal was at its finest and when everyone in that venue had far less to worry about. The set they played was hit after hit, opening with none other than their riot-inciting anthem “Rollin'”, and the gig acted as much as a form of stress relief as it did a trip down memory lane. I thoroughly loved it.

The following week was a much different affair. A Guildford-based band called Nine Miles South were playing at Camden’s Barfly by way of promoting their new self-titled EP. If you look up their band on Facebook, they describe their genre as “country & blues inspired hard rock” – a combination of words that had me immediately intrigued. Everyone from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Sons Of Anarchy instantly sprung to mind, so expectations were high.

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Nine Miles South are a four-piece with Seb Mikkelsen on rhythm guitar and vocals, Jon Anthony on lead guitar and backing vocals, Andy Sleigh on bass and backing vocals and David Wilson on drums. Visually, they had “the look” – there was no shortage of bushy beards, long hair and beautiful guitars – and the stage presence that was created backed it all up: Seb was the big, imposing vocalist at centre stage, taking up Dewey Finn’s (Jack Black’s character in ‘School of Rock’) “power stance”; Jon took up the role of hyperactive lead guitarist, putting as much energy into performing and engaging the audience as into his guitar-playing; then there was Andy and David as the eternally cool and composed rhythm section. On the surface then, they’ve got the lot.

Musically, they were as flawless as the situation allowed – the sound man struggled throughout the set with volume levels which did prove a distraction for the four of them. Nevertheless, they weren’t phased. Tracks such as Turn the Page and The Reckoning do indeed demonstrate a strong influence of the aforementioned Lynyrd Skynyrd and giants of metal Metallica, yet there is a necessary individuality to everything that they played. They sounded distorted and melodic in perfect balance and, as their set came to an end, I was left wanting to hear more.

Keep an eye out for these guys.

This is not a Year Abroad blog…

Hate to break it to you, but this is not a year abroad blog. I’ve had this thing for a few years and have dipped in and out of it from time to time. This post, however, is a post about my first term of my Erasmus year in Alicante, Spain. I’ve not done this in a while, so here goes…

The thing is, I’m writing this post as a form of procrastination with a cup of caramel hot chocolate in my hand – jealous, right? If I were to talk about every single observation that I’ve made since being here, I would genuinely be here all week and would therefore miss my flight home for Christmas… here then are the first five talking points that spring to mind regarding my first 3 and a half months in Alicante:

Logic-less builders… (that I can hear as I’m sat here typing)

I moved into my flat on 1st September at around midday. At the very moment that I got out of the taxi, I clocked that there were road works signs positioned at various points along my street. Little did I know that, over three months later, these very same road works would still be going as strong as ever. I have reached a point where the sound of pneumatic drills is as much a part of my day-to-day life as breathing, sleeping and drinking (alcohol). You would have thought that they’d close one tiny section of road at a time, to get it done quickly and efficiently, and then move on — what, with them having dug about 5 meters downwards to replace what seems like sewage systems and then re-laid both the tarmac of the roads and the brickwork of the paths — but nope! What seems like half of my postcode is basically a car-free zone because they’ve been doing bit work on various parts of these roads around my flat ever since my arrival. My conclusion? Having always driven on the continent on family holidays, it has always been clear that the English approach to roadworks is by far the worst… Spain, however, seems to provide strong competition for that title.

Comfort food.

It’s a universal aspect of student living, isn’t it? Everyone discovers something that a) tastes great and b) is an absolute bargain…or, at least, they convince themselves that it’s an absolute bargain. In Canterbury, living a 5 minute walk from Sainsbury’s meant that I knew exactly when to turn up to get food that was still fresh but had been reduced – that, more often than not, ended up being a colossal pepperoni pizza. Here, however, I’ve gone down the pastry route. There’s a 24 hour shop seconds from my front door (that isn’t actually 24 hours, but I’ll brush over that) which has it’s own little pastry counter where everything (that I like) is just one Euro. They have apple pastries, cream pastries, chocolate pastries, the lot! But the king of them all is their jamón y queso pastry. Although you can get it from supermarkets for a wee bit cheaper, the convenience of being able to go there in PJs more than justifies the extra 20 cent per pastry. My conclusion? I may get withdrawal symptoms during the mere week that I’m at home.

The beach.

I grew up in Milton Keynes, a place where the nearest beach is about 3 hours away. I’ve studied in Canterbury for two years, which is less than half an hour away from the coast. Despite being an awful lot nearer to the sea in Canterbury, I still very rarely go and, even when I do, there tends to be some form of extreme weather taking place. The fact then that I live just a 5 minute walk away from the beach here in Alicante, a mediterranean beach, is nothing short of blissful. On my first couple of nights here, when I hadn’t yet met anyone, I wandered down to the beach in the evening to just relax by the sea. Very quickly though, as I met more and more people, Saturday afternoon became our hungover beach pilgrimage day. You could go into the sea and, even up until early November, the water would still be warm. Heck, I even got sunburnt in the last week of October!

Even this weekend, two weeks into December, we wandered down to the beach — at this time of year, all of the deck chairs and parasols have been packed away for the winter so it’s now a big, empty beach — and just chilled out, watching and listening to the sea. I don’t really know what else to say other than that I love it. My conclusion? Presuming I do ever settle down, it will have to be within walking distance of the sea. I’m not fussy as to whether it’s a pebble beach or a sandy beach, just the sea would be perfect.

The Erasmus factor; there are two clear sides to this coin – When studying and when partying.

Being labelled as foreigners when studying does come with its perks. Although all of my classes here are for Spanish students (4 of my 5 this term are for final year students) and the content is far more advanced than what I’ve been doing in the UK, most professors seem to sympathise with the fact that I’m submitting obscene quantities of work in a language that is not my native tongue. So whenever I do have these freak-out sessions about how much I have to get done and for when, I very quickly take a step back and just remind myself of the fact that I am “just” an Erasmus student. All I need to worry about is passing this year and, based on the marks that I’ve been given back so far, I’m well on track to do just that.

When it comes to partying, the Erasmus factor is definitely a bonus. With most people being in the same boat of only having to pass, the first-year-of-university mentality seems to have been resurrected by all with relation to the frequency and intensity of nights out. After about a month, we had developed a seemingly endless network of friends and friends of friends and friends of friends of friends. So you can now go out pretty much anywhere, whether it be to a house party or a bar or the beach or a night club, and see someone you know. Some people don’t like that, but I do. It feels homely. My conclusion? …beer, anyone?

Over three months. 

Although I never visit home during term time when I’m studying in England, the fact that I’ve been 1000 miles away from home for over 3 months has made me miss my family a lot. I guess it’s just the knowledge that there is a far more substancial distance between myself and a mother-cooked meal that means that it does hit home that bit more. It’s not even as though I’ll be returning home to my annoying little brother and sister either; my brother turned 18 in November and my sister will turn 16 in January. They’re at an age where they actually ask for my advice or my opinion as an older brother that’s gone through what they’re currently going through. My conclusion? Although I’m only home for a week, it’ll be a week that I make the absolute most of. I’ll take my brother for a pint for the first time, I’ll take my sister to the cinema (because I want to see the new Hunger Games film and I’m sure she won’t have a problem with watching it again) and I’ll try my absolute best to make my parents as jealous as possible of my first 3 and a half months of my year abroad.

I’ll return to this Not-Year-Abroad blog when I have the time and the energy, in order to talk further about this rather wonderful place. 

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a wild New Year. 

Peace and love. xoxo