Tuesday, 3 September 2013

I've always believed the hype

As i sit in my room on a dimly lit Tuesday night, 6 days away from the highly anticipated 5th studio album from the Arctic Monkeys, it got me thinking. I grew up listening to the Arctic Monkeys and i've grown with them.

I really can't rate the Arctic Monkeys highly enough, they are ultimately my favourite band (rivalled very closely by The Courteeners) but living in Barnsley, a neighbouring town to Sheffield, I feel much closer to the Arctic Monkeys. Plus, they've been around for much longer. Being only 13 when they released their debut album Whatever people say I am, that's what I am not, I was a little naive, but I still remember the hype that surrounded them. I still remember watching the video for I bet you look good on the dancefloor and Alex Turner muttering those famous words 'Don't believe the hype'. I still remember playing that album over and over again, something that I can still do 6 years on. The catchy guitar tunes and fast paced lyrics stole my heart from the very beginning and I very much believed the hype. This was a band that was destined for the big time. Stumbling around in the corridors of the internet, I found out that before they even released their first album, Arctic Monkeys performed a gig at the Lucorum in Barnsley, a 5 minute walk from my house. If only i'd have known. Or, alternatively, if only I had a time-machine.

Arctic Monkey's second studio album, Favourite Worst Nightmares, set about where the first album left off. It was very 'samesy', to think of a better word, however, if it's not broke then don't fix it. Despite that they stole my heart again, and I continued to listen to them as I grew up with them. However, the band needed to evolve if they were to continue to be successful.

Humbug was a weird album for me. I entered dark days with my music listening and abandoned my indie routes and became brainwashed with chart music. I wrote Humbug off before I even listened to it, and what a mistake that was. I eventually bought the album a few weeks after the original release date, but still didn't give it a proper listen. Foolish. Now being a little older and a wiser head on my shoulders, I realise that Arctic Monkeys had to take a different route from the two previously released albums. They couldn't have released another fast-paced guitar packed album, as they wouldn't be where they are today. Humbug, now after a proper listen and a more intelligent viewpoint, is one of my favourite albums.

Their latest album, Suck it and See, was the biggest disappointment for me. But something that I think they've learned from. To me, it was a very childish album, and had no serious point or theme to the album, and seemed like they produced the album because they were due another album. There was no idea and no thought behind it they simply just bashed it out in the studio. However, it's still a very good album, just my least favourite out of the four.

Thankfully AM, the 5th studio album, set to be released on 9th of September, looks to have took a completely different turn to the previous album. From the three released songs (Do I wanna know?, R U Mine? and Why'd you only call me when you're high?) it seems that Alex Turner has heartbreak on the mind, and seems to be asking a lot of questions on this album. From streaming their album, it seems like a much more coherent album with a running theme, and again they've took a different turn with cool guitar riffs and going slightly bluesy rock. One song i'm sad to not see on the album is the B-Side, Stop The World I Wanna Get Off With You. I urge anyone reading this to give it a listen and possibly go and download it, it really is a gem of a song. I especially adore the line, 'with the exception of you, I dislike everyone in the room'. Alex Turner has a remarkable talent of writing lyrics that relate to me a little too much. The beauty of B-Sides is that you find some brilliant songs that hardly anyone will have heard of, and it expands your love of the band.

Long overdue, they took to the Glastonbury stage in June 2013, and blew the crowd, and everyone watching at home, away. Despite his newly adopted American look, they still remember their Sheffield routes with '0114' taped onto Matt Helder's drum set. Alex Turner's new look and new accent is all part of the band evolving, and their conquering of America. He'll always be a Sheffield boy. Having fell in love with them a little more, I converted the entire Glastonbury set into mp3 to play over and over again on my iTunes.

I would have absolutely loved to have seen the Arctic Monkeys perform in their hometown of Sheffield on their upcoming 2013 tour, but having a wise head on my shoulders I decided to go for standing tickets in Manchester. My trepidation and foresight paid off as tickets sold out within the second for Sheffield. Manchester sold out within the minute. I previously saw the Arctic Monkeys on their last tour, but had to settle for seated tickets. It was a special night, but I had to be standing for their next tour. Hence, why i'm going to Manchester as opposed to Sheffield.

There's nothing better than going to a gig and knowing every single song. That'll be me on October 23rd, the day I get to see the band that i've grown up with and I will continue to grow up with.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Knowing your spots from your Strypes

One thing you should know about me, is that I pride myself in finding new music. The music industry is an immensely decorated canvas of different styles and bands just waiting to be found. Admittedly, it's nice to find that one good band before anybody else does, so you can hold the insignificant mantle of 'I listened to them first'. Of course, that means nothing. Really, I just like to find good music, and I like to pass this good music onto my friends, who then also start listening to this band and the love affair begins. The first stage of listening to a band is pretty special. Especially when you find one that ticks all the right boxes. Enter The Strypes.

Now, i'm not saying i'm the first person to discover this band, as they are liked by a fellow 16,000
The Strypes' EP
people on facebook. But still, they're relatively unknown, but The Strypes give me that feeling that they're going to go on to something huge. A quick scour of the internet and other blogs are also tipping them for international success. Maybe a bit early for a band that is made entirely of 15 year olds.

I just happened to discover The Strypes through a gig that i'm hopefully attending in July. The Courteeners are performing an outdoor festival, and are supported by 3 acts on each day. Because we were originally meant to be attending the Friday, I thought i'd give The Strypes are listen and was pleasantly surprised by what I heard. Now, we've switched to the Saturday, so as to catch Reverend & The Makers, which leads me a tad disappointed not to be catching this young band and hopefully seeing them being just as good live as they are on record. But no matter, an opportunity will arise to see them again in the future, and maybe with a bit of luck they could be announced for Leeds fest on one of the smaller stages.

All I can say at the minute, is go listen to their EP (Young, Gifted and Blue) and keep an eye out for them in the future. Watch this space...

Monday, 25 February 2013

UW - I finally feel like i've found my calling

For those who have explored my blog to its full depths, will know that in my About Me section that I currently study journalism at University of Huddersfield but have no idea where this will take me. I like to think i'm a pretty decent writer, but no way is it my strongest attribute. I originally got really into PR (Public Relations) last year, but this year it's kind of wore on me and I can't see myself doing that anymore. Enter magazine design.

When I was in my second year at college, I sat and pondered and scoured numerous courses for a significant amount of time before settling for the one that I now study. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy this course and unlike many other people I talk to, I'm glad that I took this course as I do enjoy it. Some aspects are a little tedious (politics) but every course is going to have good and bad points. A little advice to anyone who is applying or considering applying to university. No course is perfect, so stick it out. One of my courses that I considered doing was web design, as i've always liked designing things on the computer but I eventually decided against it.

Anyway, magazine design. My first assignment was to create a magazine cover, and despite creating a nice enough cover, my mark bombed. I was quite miffed and went to talk to my lecturer and she explained the mark that I got, and what I should have done. Which I fully understood, and took on board. I didn't get too down about getting 58 and set myself the task of improving for the second half of the year, and you'll be pleased to know that I am progressing.

This second half of the year we were made to work in groups and we have to create an 8 page dummy copy of a magazine that can fit the market. After much deliberation we decided on creating a magazine for the northern man.

The most important thing i've learnt for the front cover is that the main image is the most important part, and this is one of the main reasons that I got 58 on the first assignment. I barely spent any time looking for an image on my first assignment, however on my second assignment, I spent just short of a month looking for the right image. Eventually, I found the image of Jon McClure (lead singer of Reverend and the Makers) on flickr and it had a massive revolution which meant I had some room to play with. I originally set about creating an overlay, so that Rev's head went over the top of the logo that i'd already created. Then I added the text at the bottom before adding the wording inside the cup today. All in all, i'm starting to become really impressed with the work that i've done and my senior lecturer is also very impressed with my work.

This is by no means the finished business, the banner on the top looks terrible and I just added it in because we needed a banner and it's something that I will go back and edit later. It also needs teasers down the left and right hand side, however, I just wanted to share my work of what i've done so far as i'm incredibly proud. I'll make sure to post the finished piece on here, once it's complete around April time. Is this my calling in life? At this moment of time, i'd be inclined to say yes.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

FF - The King has fallen, long live Flicker

Albert Einstein once described insanity as trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Strangely enough, it's a theory that can be applied to football, and more so to the situation that Barnsley suffered. I'll admit that my football posts have been sparse, and it's probably due to the fact that under Keith Hill, Barnsley became dire and lacklustre and it was difficult to write about my hometown club performing so poorly. Boasting one of the smallest budgets and smallest attendances in the Championship, it's no surprise that we're relegation fodder each year. That doesn't mean that we are nailed on to go down, despite what bookies think.

Now it's probably worth pointing out that I don't get to as many Barnsley matches as I like, working a part-time job at the weekend to fund my way through university. However, I get down to Oakwell as often as I can, and additionally attend a handful of away games. So, I didn't see the plight of Keith Hill in full. I was a big fan of 'King Keith' when he first came to the club, and his 'endeavour' and 'clean sheets are king' stole my heart and my footballing brain. He had the know-how and tenacity to win over a lot of Barnsley fans and we saw some good football down in little old Barnsley. Keith had an ability to find rough gems from lower leagues, as well as forgotten players, and turn them into Championship quality players. We have a lot to thank from him. David Perkins and Stephen Dawson have been a revelation and similarly to Keith, won over the hearts of the Barnsley crowd. Ricardo Vaz Te was a journeyman when he walked through the doors of Oakwell, but walked out after an incredible 6 months, scoring some of the best goals i've ever seen in my short tenure of being a fan. It was gutting to see him go, and we lost our spark, and barely scraped survival at the end of the 2011/2012 season. Surviving alone on Portsmouth going into administration.

Many fans were wary of the 2012/2013 season, and it's hard to blame them. After watching a momentous collapse at the end of last season, surviving by the skins of our teeth, there wasn't much anticipation for the season ahead. Keith chopped and changed to try and get it right, but always had his favourites (Scott Wiseman, a notable example), and eventually succumbed to insanity. Keith was all out of ideas and was shown the exit door just after Christmas, after a very poor set of results which left us lingering in the bottom 3. A search for the new manager was on, but after a few managers (Sean O'Driscoll and Terry Butcher) turned us down, the job was offered to Keith's assistant David Flitcroft (Flicker), after he masterminded a 2-0 victory over local rivals Leeds United.

Things started to change. Our problem throughout the season was that we were conceding too many goals, and not taking our chances up front. A lethal combination if you're wanting to stay in any league. With top goalscorer Craig Davies sold on to Bolton, it was hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel. But, the Barnsley faithful got behind Flicker and he brought in his own ideas to the table, and implemented a 3-5-2 formation. Flicker saw that we didn't have a strong and reliable two central defenders, and instead of trying to find the best combination, he stuck three at the back, and we saw the benefits. His first masterstroke. Your best striker doesn't always make your best strike partnership, and how true turned out to be. With Davies being sold on, the task was handed on to Marlon Harewood and Chris Dagnall, and they've blossomed together, helping us to scrappy wins, which you need when in a relegation fight. Although I think that Davies was one of the best number 9's i've seen in my time, I think his greediness to shoot rather than pass was frustrating and detrimental to squad morale.

The midfield, arguably needed little work. With Dawson and Perkins in the middle, we arguably have the two most hard-working midfielders in the Championship. The jobs of left back/left midfielder and right back/right midfielder have been handed to Scott Golbourne and John Stones. Golbourne is a steady away player, and is probably one of the better left backs we've had since being in the Championship, but then again, probably not the best. However, he does a job and puts in a shift and that's what you need. John Stones, is a colossal talent that has risen from the pits of Barnsley that will surely go on to play for England one day. Keep an eye on him. The Premiership vultures are already keeping a watchful eye on him.

I'm not saying Barnsley can stay up, but i'm not saying Barnsley are going down either. After a nifty run of results though it seems that Flicker has finally got the boys ticking, and a decent run of results are going our way and hopefully we can keep this momentum going, who knows where we can go. With Flicker at the helm, it's reminiscent of the days of Danny Wilson, despite being a little young myself to remember it, Barnsley fans will tell you that can only be a good thing. Wilson stepped up from assistant manager to full time manager and got us our one season in the Premiership by playing a 3-5-2 formation. Or, so i'm told. Can this be replicated? We need to get out of the bottom three first. We survive this season, and who knows what miracles Flicker can perform. Long live Flicker.

Monday, 14 January 2013

BTB - Automatic Doors

Today, I had a very unfortunate incident with an automatic door. As I was leaving my university building, the combined slowness of the 'automatic' door and my apparent hurriedness to catch my train meant that I was just too quick for the mechanism and walked straight into it. Face first. After a quick step back and regaining of my composure, the doors opened and I carried on about my day. Thankfully, nobody was around to see but it got me thinking, when did we become so lazy?

Is there really any need for automatic doors? A door is a mild inconvenience at the most. It's not as if every door we have in the world is automatic, so I don't really understand why we have doors that open for us once we step on a sensor? Are they really necessary or a waste of electricity? Surely on a dying planet we can cope without automatic doors and maybe save on electricity. Only my blog can someone argue that automatic doors could preserve life as we know it.

Also, is there any need to actually signpost automatic doors as automatic doors? Can't it just be a nice surprise that one day you're walking up to a door and it magically opens for you. The signage completely ruins the surprise. Then as you walked through you'd share a hearty chuckle with whoever you with, that it's an automatic door and not a regular door and you were deceived by it's likeness of a normal door.  We're past the stage now where we think we're magic and the door is tainted by witches, although it's always fun to pretend that you're opening the door, don't lie... we all do it...

Thursday, 20 December 2012

ML - Top 10 live songs of 2012

1. When You Were Young - The Killers
When You Were Young led into the encore when I saw Killers in November. I'd absolutely hammered the Battleborn album before seeing them, and was really excited to see songs such as Runaways and Miss Atomic Bomb, but completely forgot about The Sam's Town album, which in my opinion is their best album. When You Were Young was a phenomenal sing along, and was the perfect song to lead into the encore. Despite being a little disappointed they didn't sing 'River Is Wild', this song made up for it completely. It really was phenomenal. 

2. I Will Wait - Mumford & Sons
The second song of the night, and we'd only been stood there for about 2 minutes when they started to play I Will Wait. I spent more time watching the audience up in the seating area than the actual band simply because of how loud they were singing. I thought The Killers was loud but this particular song was something else. Probably would have been number one had it been either place in the encore or the song leading into the encore. Still, absolutely epic, and Mumford deserved the adulation for such a spectacular song. 

3. All My Life - Foo Fighters
Posted this video on my Top 10 acts of 2012 post, and that was the Reading performance, in my opinion the Leeds performance was better. However, as already stated, not the biggest fan of the Foo Fighters, but I like a couple of their songs. The set was fantastic, but this song was incredible. Dave Grohl is a fantastic front man and put his heart and soul into this song and the crowd responded. Great live song, and it was great being there. 

4. Common People - Pulp
Probably the ultimate song to hear live. We danced, we drinked, we screwed, because there was nothing else to do. The words echo around your head, and it's so relatable to us 'northeners' as we are the common people. It was great to have a sing and a dance to, and Jarvis was in his element. A little disappointed that the show was one of their last, but they can't keep going on forever, and signing off at a hometown show, doesn't get much better. 

5. Not Nineteen Forever - The Courteeners
Again, another brilliant sing along. Made all the more brilliant that I was actually 19 when we saw them, so there was a tiny bit of relation to the song. The Courteeners are an amazing live band, and i've already booked tickets to see them in March next year in Sheffield. I will never ever tire of seeing them, and anticipate the new album Anna, released around the time of my birthday, which is when i realise that i'm in fact, not nineteen forever. 

6. "45" - The Gaslight Anthem
The song that got me into Gaslight. Despite being badgered constantly to listen to them, I finally started liking them after seeing this song live. Lead singer Brian Fallon couldn't stop smiling throughout the performance, simply because how much the crowd loved it. They were bouncing, they were singing and it really was an incredible song to see live. Can't wait to see them in March next year in Manchester, where i'm hoping for more of the same.

7. Disco 2000 - Pulp
'Now we're warmed up, let's have a bit of a dance' were the words that lead into Disco 2000, and it was true. We'd had a couple of songs to bounce around to, and get ourselves in the mood, then Jarvis & co. blurted out Disco 2000 to a packed Sheffield Arena. A magical moment. As said above, disappointed that I probably won't see them again, but Common People & Disco 2000 will always be great live songs that I saw. 

8. I Always Knew - The Vaccines
I avoided putting The Vaccines in my previous post about my 10 best live acts, as i'm unbelievably biased and will always love their live performances. I've loved The Vaccines since day one, and they're probably always going to always hold the mantle of my favourite band. Henceforth, it would be silly to exclude them from this list, and I Always Knew was a personal highlight from their gig at Doncaster Dome. Me and my friends have a running gag that the song would be perfect to play while riding on horseback, so when the song came on, we all trotted on the spot pretending to ride on horses. 

9. Polar Bear - King Charles
King Charles doesn't even get a mention in my other post, which in hindsight is a little unfair. The thing that made the gig so annoying was how exhausting it was. We arrived early and were queuing outside for around half an hour, then had to endure four support acts. It really was too much for somebody as little as King Charles, so by the time he came on, my feet were hurting and I was pretty tired. However, Polar Bear was pretty epic, and i'm glad that I can now cross him off my list. Polar Bear, I can't even describe, was just unbelievably epic singing along to.

10. Spaceman - The Killers
The Killers sneak in again at number 10, with Spaceman. The Number 10 slot could quite easily have been Runaways or Miss Atomic Bomb but chose Spaceman because of the cool graphics they had going on in the background. It was also a really good singalong, but then again so was the entire concert. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

ML - Top 10 acts of 2012

2012 has been a pretty mental year. I've seen some absolutely amazing acts. Here is a list of my top 10 with a brief description of why it justifies my top 10. I've included videos where appropriate. Although I did really enjoy The Vaccines, I decided to leave them out of my top 10 as they're my favourite band and I'm a little biased.

1. Pulp
It was a funny little story with Pulp. I should have seen them at Leeds Fest in 2011, but was too lazy to go back to the arena after a tiring weekend. Looking back on the YouTube clips of the performances, I was gutted that I'd been so foolish. One of my biggest regrets in life today. However, by chance I happened to go on the Pulp gig list and saw they had planned a homecoming gig in December. Perfect! I bagged tickets in pre-sale, and managed to get standing tickets which is always better. It was genuinely the nicest, homeliest gig that I have ever been to. There were nobody throwing beers, no idiots stood next to us, we were all there for the music, and Pulp delivered. It's sad to think that they aren't going to be around for much longer, if at all, but I can finally tick them off my list, after one and a half years of regret.

2. Mumford & Sons
Like The Courteeners, I saw Mumford & Sons twice in 2012. The first time was in Greenhead Park in Huddersfield. Looking back, I can't even remember how I found the tickets, but despite the rain it was an amazing day out. Singing and dancing in a field under the moon light to Mumford's music was perfect. The second time was equally as special. We arrived just as the band started due to our train breaking down, but that wasn't going to dampen our evening. Mumford said that this was the biggest venue that they had played in the UK, and boy did the crowd response. I Will Wait was absolutely epic, the whole place from top to bottom was singing back to them. Absolutely incredible. I said in a previous post I don't think they're big enough to headline Leeds festival, well I take all that back. Would be very happy to see them at Leeds. 

3. John Bishop
I wasn't expecting much from John Bishop. Despite being a big fan of him, he's not my favourite comedian and I was quite apprehensive at not being able to understand his thick scouse accent. As well as this, we also ended up buying tickets a long time after they went on sale, and our seats were pretty poor. However, Bish pulled out all the stops and was by far the funniest of the 3 comedians that I saw in 2012. The show itself was executed brilliantly, which made it all the more special. Would urge everyone to buy his new DVD, his best tour by a country mile. Looking at the acts below, it's a testament to how good his show was that Bish placed so high in my rankings. 

4. Foo Fighters
Despite not being the biggest fan of Dave Grohl's band, I was really looking forward to their headline set. A close friend of mine is the biggest Foo Fighters fan, so I maybe didn't enjoy the set as much as he did. Yet, they still put on an absolutely amazing set, and despite it being a little on the long side and being painfully tired about half way through, I'm so glad that I stayed to the end. Worth every penny to see live. All My Life was absolutely brilliant live, and I get chills watching the Reading performance of it. 

5. The Courteeners
I was lucky enough to see The Courteeners twice in 2012, and the Manchester born band certainly didn't disappoint. Brilliantly enough, I also saw them both times while I was aged 19, adding to the specialness of the song 'not nineteen forever'. The first time at Leeds festival was special, however a third slot on the NME stage meant they had a painfully short set. No worries though, I somehow managed to clinch standing tickets for their homecoming to the MEN arena, and wow, what a night it was. It was basically just a longer version of their set at Leeds fest, and Liam's acoustic solo in the middle of the arena was pretty special. Gave people who weren't near the front to get a bit closer to him. Got hit with a couple of drinks, and had this woman stood next to us who was adamant to offer every single small person to get on her shoulders, but it wasn't ruining the night. Perfect performance from a perfect band, can't wait for the new album.

6.  Kasabian
This was my second time seeing Kasabian after seeing them in late December last year. I knew they were going to smash their headline slot at Leeds festival, and they proved me right. It's amazing how everyone at a Kasabian concert just happens to bounce at the same time, and it's an extraordinary feeling to be part of that bounce. No more words, just go see them if you haven't already. You're missing out. Watch the video below for unreal chills. I will never tire of seeing them.

7- The Killers
I cannot put into words how loud everyone sang along to The Killers. I've liked them since their first album, and their newest album Battleborn is getting back to The Killers that we know and love. So glad that I went to see them on this tour, When You Were Young was a personal highlight, and was easily the best song of the night. Closely followed by Runaways and Spaceman. The amazing thing about a Killers concert is that the songs are so popular it's impossible not to sing along, and like I said, the noise from the crowd was deafening. Absolutely outstanding gig. With a shuffle around of a couple of songs, and playing my favourite song 'River is Wild', they could have easily placed in the top three.

8- Kevin Bridges
Without a doubt, the funniest man to ever walk this planet. I've been a big fan of Kevin Bridges since seeing him in his early days on Mock The Week, and i've followed him ever since. His appearance on Would I lie to you? is perhaps one of the funniest things i've ever seen. We bought the tickets to see Kevin, 14 months before the actual event. So the wait was a long and excruciating one. It was well worth the wait though. I'm not going to try and replicate any jokes that he told, but I seriously recommend you buy his DVD, for many laughs. Only placed so far down the list because of the small venue and being sat behind a human giraffe. I'm hardly one to talk but I had to keep leaning just to get a decent view.

9. The Gaslight Anthem
A nice surprise that I never anticipated would get on to this list. I went to their show at Leeds festival simply because a friend was a massive fan of them. Their live show also turned me into a massive fan, and I disappointed myself that I'd not listened to them sooner. I punched the air in jubilation when news came out they were touring the UK, only to be let down that they clashed with first placed Kevin Bridges. Of all the days, in all the months they just had to be on the same day. Regardless, i'll still be seeing them the next time they tour, and so will many of my other friends who are also turning into massive Gaslight fans. Booked tickets to go see them next year after their stellar performance at Leeds.

10. The Black Keys
Number 10 was hard, I didn't realise how many bands I had seen this year. Leeds fest amounting to most of them, but to leave out bands such as Snow Patrol, Kaiser Chiefs and The Vaccines (my favourite band ever) was hard. However, The Black Keys just sneaked in due to being part of a great day at Leeds festival. I'd only got into The Black Keys a couple of months before Leeds Fest but the bluesy rock stole my heart and I listened to them as much as I could before I saw them. Loved every second of their performance and knew every single song they sang. Kicking myself that I didn't go see them again in their own tour, supported by The Maccabees! I have no idea why I didn't get tickets, but i'm sure that i'll see them again.

So there you have it, been an epic 12 months of music. Hopefully, 2013 will be just as good. Probably going to do a post of the top 10 live songs of 2012, just to keep the blog rolling.