Flora Cash

1 Oct

[Recently, I began a section on my blog with the purpose of reviewing YouTube videos, with my initial post being on the topic of the Ice Bucket Challenge. I somewhat neglect my blog and I wasn't sure about the quality of it so I've decided to go in a different direction with this piece and see how it goes.]

Unlike the last entry where I reviewed the videos, this is more of a recommendation, specifically a recommendation for you to listen to a band called Flora Cash, a band I stumbled across completely by happy accident. I won’t be anrgy if you don’t, I’ll just be disappointed. The band is composed of Shpresa Lleshaj (don’t ask me how to pronounce it), from Stockholm, and Cole Randall, from Minneapolis. It’s discovering talents like this that makes YouTube so great, maybe even more than being able to play Snake on the videos. It’s also a testament to Soundcloud as the pair met on there (is that a thing?), with each of them creating music seperately before meeting up to create some wonderful music. Comparisons can be drawn with Of Monsters and Men, the Icelandic folk-pop band but Flora Cash’s music has more of a country vibe with a modern twist. They are also look a lot cooler, check out Cole’s beard:

Freakin’ Love is the first song I heard by Flora Cash; it’s wonderfuly infectious and I fell in love with them upon first listen, similar to the way you fell in love with me upon first read of my blog. The use of an understated instrumental component with simple guitar chords really allows their vocals to do the talking (Unintetional lame pun). And they compliment each other fantastically, showcasing the strength and range of each of their voices. It really is a perfect match and it’s incredible to think that they come from opposite sides of the world. Thankfully their musical compatibility has been recognised and performed for us all to hear on YouTube. It’s a wonder why the pair haven’t been signed yet, especially with delightfully uplifting songs like this:

There are a host of other brilliant songs they have created, too, which I would suggest you listen to too, such as Old School Japan and Summerset. There is an intimate familiarity with Flora Cash, a rare and important trait for a band to have. Another strength they have is the ability to create a cracking cover. There are several of note, including On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons and Mumford and Sons’ Hopeless Wanderer but here’s perhaps the best one (’cause I said so):

Flora Cash are currently in the process of raising money to record their debut album, which, if they continue in the same vain, will surely be none too soon. And if they do get famous just remember, you saw them here first, you lucky bastards.

New Section-YouTube Reviews. I procrastinate so you don’t have to. Ice Bucket Challenge

26 Aug

My blog is desparingly devoid of activity for long periods at a time where I am busy or have been at university but I really want to start filling it up with content and try to write multiple entries a week. As such, I have decided to start a new section on here: YouTube video reviews. I count YouTube as one of the best websites ever created and I believe it will be remembered as such for years to come. However, I have noticed that there are a limited number of reviews for videos, other than those left by disgruntled 12-year-olds in the comments, which left me wondering a) since when do pre-teens have a greater lexicon of swear words than me?, and b) should I give it a go? As I love reviewing all kinds of media, I thought this opportunity was too good to pass up.

So here goes, I hope you guys all enjoy it and please feel free to give me some feedback and even some suggestions of which videos to review!

1) Benedict Cumberbatch’s Ice Bucket Challenge for #MND

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOa7ZjxRuKM

Seeing as it’s my first entry, I thought I’d start simple and current. And what could be more current than the Ice Bucket Challenge? Strenghtening further his claim to the Coolest Brit Alive crown (possibly just on the strength of his name) is Benedict ‘Sherlock’ Cumberbatch. Not only is he a great actor, but in this video, he demonstrates what a top bloke he is. Seeing as he was nominated on multiple occassions, Benedict decided to go further than most of the celebrity world and get substantially more ice and water thrown at him. The slo-mo effects during the administration of the plethora of bucket throws make for an enjoyable watch and definitely one of the better Ice Bucket Challenge videos I’ve seen, with only Patrick Stewart’s effort (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ju5VxyM3S4o) beating him to top spot, not only on the video front but, unfortunately for Benny C, to the Coolest Brit Crown.

2) Little girl does Ice Bucket Challenge

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waL5Cf-CFJU

In keeping with my theme for this post, I thought I’d add a personal favourite.With cuteness levels well over 1000 from the second it starts, it highlights to me what’s so perfect about the Ice Bucket Challenge, in that everyone can get involved, it’s a bit of fun and the videos are usually less than 30 seconds, therefore meaning you can watch them on the go. This tiny have-a-go-heroine is doing what all three to five year olds do and copying in the most adorable way possible. Combine this with a few shockingly adult choice words at the end, and you create, in my opinion, a highly Ice Bucket Challenge video with minimal effort.

3) “Leego” Ice Bucket Challenge

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0p8ALiwJ7E

Whenever a popular craze like this comes along, there will always be few naysayers trying to crush public morale because they weren’t loved as a child, or perhaps creating an alternative because obviously it’s “cool” to be different, no matter what you do. After a pointless 10 seconds of looking at an awkward young boy standing in the corner of his kitchen, his father steps into shot and asks the viewer incredulously “Why the f*** ‘Ice Bucket’?” as if it’s the most bizarre idea anyone’s ever cooked up. Doing his best impression of what he thinks on-screen personalities should act like, “Marcy Lopez” confidently tells his ever-present audience that he’s about to do the “Lee-go” challenge. He then proceeds to pour all of his son’s Lego pieces on top of himself, while screaming “Woo!” and walks off camera in a blaze of glory, surely destined for an award of some kind, an Oscar perhaps? His son surely deserves a “Best Supporting Actor” nomination right? To make matters worse for the poor guy, he states in the description that “We had to clean to kitchen for two hours”. “WE”?! So not only did Marcy Jr have to go without his Lego for his dad’s crackpot schemes, he then had to help him clear it up? No wonder he stood in the corner defiantly. All worth it for 74 views huh Marcy?

Kasabian-48:13 review

10 Jun

kasab4813

Listening to Tom Meighan and Serge Pizzorno describe the inner workings of their fifth studio album in an NME interview recently was utterly mesmerising. Granted, Serge might be from another planet, and Tom could do with a few workshops on expressing himself, but the passion is there in the words they use. Tom repeats the word exciting more times than a hummingbird flaps its wings and Serge runs out of superlatives for his bandmate’s vocals.

You can tell that the band truly believe this is the one. The album that defines Kasabian. The record oozes simplicity in a blend of their old and new sounds. Almost in a nod to their early work, 48:13 has more of an electronic element than, say, Velociraptor!, but keeps the integrity of their rock and roll routes. Routes, which, as is the same with a plethora of British rock bands (and the rest), stem from The Beatles. This is particularly noticable in ‘stevie’ and ‘(mortis)‘ with the boys’ melodic tones comparable to that of John and Paul. The opening track, ‘(shiva)’, echoes the resonance of Dire Straits or Pink Floyd. And glimpses of the band’s admiration for The Clash and The Doors is evident.

Yet ‘glass’ hits us at full pelt from a completely different angle halfway through the album. Forget rock and roll heavyweights, and start thinking hip-hop. A grimey, spoken word rap from Suli Breaks, the man who gave his two cents about education a while back, is included on this track, which surprised me but is somehow in keeping with the feel of the album.

I would call this album a concept album; the clash of genres and simplicity being key. Meighan and Pizzorno believe that “less is more” with this album and I can certainly see why: simple album name, simple album cover, simple messages. Even the video to ‘eez-eh’ is delightfully uncomplicated. It is this “stripped back” sound which gives 48:13  its iconic feel, which was a careful and succesful consideration by the band.

Whether the band also decided to release the album to coincide with Soccer Aid to remind us of Serge’s spectacular lob in the event two years ago or not, it is the eccentric singer-songwriter’s musical talent, not sporting, that is salient. The second single (and song) on the album, ‘bumblebee’, was apparently cooked up in the ‘Sergery’ and played to Tom well over a year ago. It is, in my opinion, the perfect festival song.

Imagine: the fluttering of speech from thousands of people around you as you await the headliner act, which this year is Kasabian. You can barely see in the dark but, suddenly, shiva comes rumbling through the speakers for its minute-or-so-duration and then out of nowhere, bumblebee crashes into your eardrums, propelling everyone into a chorus of collective chanting. Ecstasy.

48:13 is a great album. But we never really expected anything less of a band that only produces great albums did we? Kasabian’s strengths can also be their shortcomings though. The pure quality of their music leaves them in danger of producing very similar successive albums. They have counteracted this wisely but in creating such a bare bones album, it remains to be seen whether the substance and integrity of their music remains in tact. The lyrics pale in comparison to the enigmatic West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum for instance.

However, the explosive nature of the band has not been lost, and instead fits seemlessly into an impressive experimental record. The introduction of previously unused elements ensures 48:13 has a unique sound without straying too far from what we know. It might not be their best album in terms of quality of songs but it certainly is their most innovative work yet.

 

Rating: 7.5/10

Clean Bandit-New Eyes review

2 Jun

Clean-Bandit-New-Eyes-Album-Cover-2014-1200x1200

 

Not meaning to brag or anything but I’ve known Clean Bandit for about a year, long before Rather Be reached number one in the singles charts. But I can’t take all the credit. I wasn’t some lone disciple of theirs maniacally shouting at everyone I saw, proclaiming that they should listen to Clean Bandit or they’d be struck down upon their next move. Well I did do a lot of shouting.

But anyway, before we went to Reading Festival last year, my friend and I were checking out the talent of bands we somehow hadn’t heard of, despite our superior music knowledge. My friend told me to listen to a band called ‘Clean Bandit’, a band he said mixed classical music with a bit of rap and a bit of electronica. I was intrigued. So I listened. And heavens above, I was not disappointed, and we were perhaps more excited about seeing them then some of the headline acts.

So there we were, at the newly established Reading dance stage on the Friday at about 3pm, like a pair of derranged groupies, dancing like lunatics and ever since I’ve been waiting for their album. Nine months I’ve had to wait. NINE. I could have had a baby in that time. Don’t worry mum, I haven’t, but we did see their popularity explode when they released Rather Be.

Now, I’m not one of those people who dislikes a band as soon as they become popular, BUT, that whole time I have implored people to discover some of their other songs. Songs like Internet Banking, Dust Clears and Mozart’s House; songs which established their raw talent. And I made sure I played them on my radio show as much as possible. Thankfully, their album was released today and I can now sit back smugly and watch people rave about it.

This is where the self-promotion ends and the review of the album actually starts. Firstly, all of the songs are incredible. What I have always liked about Clean Bandit is how refreshing their sound is. The band themselves dubbed their genre “Classica-electronica“. They seemlessly blend violins and a double bass with electronic music and, impressively, they have managed to introduce this into the mainstream music charts.

I had already heard about half of the songs on this album before it was released as they have been on YouTube for a while and I’m obsessed enough to have made a playlist on my account. That’s cool though right? Of the songs I was yet to hear, one stands out as being as stunningly exciting as songs like Mozart’s House and A+E, which is Birch, the final full track on the album. The low tempo contrasts perfectly with the rest of the album and translates Bandit’s understated electro beats into more of a chilled out song.

If I had to make one minor criticism of the album, it would be purely a selfish one: I like albums that are seemless, with songs that effortlessly run into each other, making the album one journey instead of a collection of songs. New Eyes is the latter, but debut albums are scarcely produced in such a manner and I’m just being pedantic as always.

If you’re expecting every song to be exactly like Rather Be, then firstly you’ll be disappointed but, more importantly, you’ve musjudged Clean Bandit entirely. They have always experiemented with alternative sounds and this shines through on the album. The intelligent infusion of rap, reggae and dance music with classical music is something to behold, a truly original album with only room to improve for such a young band.

I’m seeing them at the Isle of Wight festival in just under two weeks and I know for certain that I’m going to be get a flurry of strange looks directed my way because I will be dancing like a madman once again.

 

Rating: 7/10

Coldplay-Ghost Stories review

20 May

Coldplay-Ghost-Stories1-e1396608548360

Coldplay are that band that some people absolutely detest. And it’s not just a hatred where the people think their music’s a bit boring; it’s an intense, campaigning-for-their-removal-from-society kind of hatred. To people who are fond of Coldplay in any way, like myself, this utter contempt for the band is bewildering and slightly unnerving. It’s not like Chris Martin stole these people’s bikes when they were kids so what is it that is so enraging to Coldplay-haters?

I’ve always had a sneaky suspicion that most of these anti-Martins are trying to look cool and hate a band that talks about feelings because that’s really lame. But then Yellow will come on in a bar and they’ll be singing along because it’s a an effing good song. That said, this doesn’t account for the hardcores–those who are probably really normal human beings but turn into murderous, demonic creatures should any Coldplay track play near them.

A dilemma for the ages, perhaps it’s not; but my confusion will only intensify if people tell me they don’t like Magic and its accompanying songs on their new album, Ghost Stories. I first heard Magic on XFM and immediately fell in love with it. The passion in the lyrics somehow perfectly contrasts with the tranquility of the track. And the rest of the album follows this same structure.

For the Coldplay heavies…ahem, by which I mean, those who are disappointed with the new direction because it’s “not proper Coldplay” and will play Parachutes on repeat because “it’s their best album”…this album might not be up your proverbial street. I jest about their complaints, of course, but, with this production of this album, it is perfectly feasible for Coldplay to have two very different types of fans.

The path Coldplay have decided to follow with Ghost Stories is incredibly far removed from their first albums and even up to some of the tracks Viva la Vida. The feel of the album is very fresh. The new sounds Martin and the band have experimented with reverberate around your speakers with a haunting resonance that lends itself to the title of the album.

And I think what makes the sound work so brilliantly well, is the effortlessness of Martin’s voice. On previous albums, he’s been belting out anthems but on tracks ‘Midnight‘ and ‘Ink‘, which is already a personal favourite, the soft but sharp vocals, entwined with the subtlety of the music, make for an alternative but similarly enjoyable listening experience.

The album flows naturally too. Even the transition from the blissfully peaceful ‘Oceans‘ into the most upbeat song on the album ‘A Sky Full of Stars‘ works well. And that is just it about this album, it works. It is understated and easy to listen to.

I might be way off here but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway: I reckon even former Coldplay-haters could listen to this album and not go on a city-wide rampage for a change. I might suggest that they would even go so far as to like the album but I don’t understand the psyhcology of these people so I could be more wrong about that than anything I’ve been wrong about.

The Coldplay we hear on Ghost Stories is a very different one to Parachutes or A Rush of Blood to the Head. The reason for this can be debated and of course, only confirmed by Chris Martin himself. But whatever the reason, the album is simply incredible. Give it a listen, whether you are a Coldplay fan or not. Because I might go so far as to say that regardless of your previous levels of love for the band, it is like listening to a new band altogether.

 

Rating: 8/10

Tips for new university students

14 May

studentspiece

 

Now this might apply most to Portsmouth, which is where I’ve been milling around for the last three years, but I will try to make it appropriate for almost all new uni students, and yes, ‘almost all’ because I’m not a fucking miracle worker, so don’t complain if it doesn’t magically make you the don at Freshers. Also, I’ve written it in list form to make it simpler for you because your brain will probably be adled by copious amounts of alcohol.

1) Don’t be a dickhead

I think I’d use this as number one if I were writing an instruction manual for life in general, and you’d think this would be the most obvious thing ever, but it really cannot be understated. You’re probably going to want to make friends when you move into university. If you’re someone who takes great enjoyment out of not having friends then fair enough, don’t read this one, but I’ve decided you’re now my friend–what are you gonna do about it? Anyway, Freshers week (or fortnight as the case may be) makes people do odd things. You want to make friends but you’re nervous and full of alcohol. So you’ll probably steal a trolley or two and maybe a road sign because it’s err “funny”. But some people might take it too far and do something reeeeally stupid like piss on their new friend’s clothes, or smash up their entire kitchen (remember, these are cautionary tales, not suggestions). So my advice is to yes, enjoy yourself, but don’t take it to the extremes because you’re there for 3+ years, and, unless you want people to remember you specifically as the girl who shat out a window, there’s plenty of time for you to have fun.

2) Just be yourself

Unless yourself is the aformenetioned dickhead, you’re gonna be okay. We’re all nervous at the start of uni, apart from those unnervingly confident people who are probably secretly robots with their anxiety chip removed, so just be yourself and naturally, things will turn out well. The old cliché of “you’re all in the same boat” could not be more apt here. I hate clichés as much as the next person but there is literally no better way to describe it. Believe me, I tried. Hardly anyone who starts first year really knows what to expect. You all just kind of fall into it. And even if you think you’re a bit of a loser and everyone at your old school thought you were too, then that doesn’t matter. People will just be happy to have friends! “Beggars can’t be choosers”. Oh fuck, another cliché…I guess I do those now (Err…while I come to terms with this, please read on). And, more importantly, people grow up at university.

3) Do things

This is a bit of a simple instruction but I don’t think “Go and do things that you might be scared to do because it’ll end up being really good for you” was very catchy. I’ll explain through the narrative of my wonderful journey through uni, from a beautiful butterly into a fucking majestic eagle (I skipped the caterpillar part). At the beginning of uni my naïvety and overall scaredy-catedness (real word, look it up) meant I was a tad aprehensive to try new things and I sort of shuffled through uni thinking I was growing up. But it wasn’t until third year when a friend and I started hosting a radio show that I properly felt like I’d got the most out of uni. I won’t bore you with the incredible life-changing details but the confidence it brought me meant I was ready to grab university by the bollocks and life as well to be honest. So if you want to be a professional life-bollock-grabber like me then I’d advise you to take opportunities that might scare you and (cliché warning) “dive in at the deep end”.

4) Get a balanced experience

Don’t be one of those people. The people who go out every night of the week and ruin their degree because of it. They’re probably fun to hang around with because they’ve been drunk all year but don’t copy their lecture notes because they probably don’t have any. If I were one of these people, I would also not be one of these people because I would have been severely maimed or killed by my mother. But similarly, my mum would have whacked me round the head if I were one of those who spent a criminal amount of time in the library. There’s no point being either of those things because you can have fun at uni without fucking off your education or your social life.

5) Use the resources given to you

Don’t let anyone know this (especially lecturers) but first year is a piece of piss. Enjoy yourself. You only need 40% mostly, which is a big fuck all when you’ve just finished A Levels, so you can pretty much scrape by with minimal work. But, in no means should you accept a 40. Do your best still in first year and if you see any problems with your work, go and seek help. There will probably be some sort of study skills help available. And by jove does this help. My essays were languishing down in the low 50s and to be perfectly honest, I hadn’t the foggiest how to make them better. But then I got FREE help with my essay writing from a university service. If I had swallowed my darn pride and sought this help in first year, I guarantee I would have got a better degree. (Fuck, I do love a good cliché) “Hindsight is a wonderful thing”. And I have selflessly gone through this whole experience for you, young student. I have laid down my life so that you can go forth and enjoy your university experience to the full. And what have you ever done for me, you selfish bastard?

Season Review 2013/14

12 May

City win the league

You don’t need me to tell you how enthralling, tense and adrenaline filled this season has been. It was a three horse race until the penultimate game, despite José contuniously informing us otherwise, and top spot changed hands 25 times.

It was Arsenal who occupied first position for the longest time, putting together an impressive run which saw people running about in apocalyptic style confusion, worried that the Premier league trophy would actually be heading to the Emirates. Alas, they were to relinquish their title challenge, leaving many breathing heavy sighs of relief and telling themselves that they never thought Arsenal could do it anyway.

But then, out of nowhere, the 80s started to re-emerge and Liverpool mounted a serious title challenge. They quickly became the neutrals’ favourites. That is, except everyone from Manchester (and United fans) who would rather have shat on their own necks than seen Steven Gerrard lift the Premiership trophy at Anfield.

But of course, ‘little horse’ Chelsea were there to save the day for you lucky Mancs, because, even though they were definitely never going to win the title, the Blues like to be a nuisance, like your annoying little brother who doesn’t really want to hang out with you, but will quite happily ruin whatever you’re doing for his own enjoyment. Their 2-0 win at Anfield all but ensured Man City were going to win the title for a second time in three years, but could have somehow given Mourinho’s side another shot at the title going into the last couple of games, but they inevitably fluffed their lines against a Norwich side who were ‘trying to stay up’.

Norwich needed a win to fight their way to safety, having seen two teams relegated for sure the same weekend, but seemed content with a draw at the Bridge, despite knowing they would need a SEVENTEEN goal swing on the last day, which was many as Norwich had scored at home all season.

Of course, their final game loss to Arsenal relegated them along with Fulham and Cardiff who were both less than impressive having invested a great deal throughout the season. Vincent Tan finally realised that superstitions mean fuck all in football and that just because Abramovich has been sack-happy, doesn’t mean every maniacal billionaire can be.

Crystal ‘Pulis’ were probably everyone’s second team this year, pulling off more than a great escape under the guidance of the man that has never been relegated, and impressively fighting back from three goals down in just nine minutes against Liverpool to secure an influx of fruit baskets arriving at Selhurst, sent from Manchester addresses.

But the best part about the season, if you ask almost any fan…was a certain small, north-western club achieving a comfortable seventh spot, sandwiched inbetween Spurs and Southampton. Having spent in excess of £70m on two attacking midfielders this season, it turns out (as we all well knew) that they have a player who is more than capable of playing there. A young man by the name of Wayne Rooney is apparently pretty good. Other than Wayne, De Gea and Januzaj, who was understandably excited to play Champions League football because it meant he got to stay up late, Manchester United were incredibly lacklustre this year. You’ve got to feel for David ‘The Chosen One’ Moyes. No man could have walked into that club and bested Sir Alex, especially not in their first season. But no one except United fans really care about that. In fact, I think we all found it pretty funny.

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