Apple Music | The Friday Article

Earlier this week, Apple revealed its streaming service, Apple Music, in the latest update to be made available on their products.

After already becoming known for its debate with Taylor Swift on royalties, the revamped Music app is now live. So, I thought – with the promise of a three-month free trial, that I would review it for today’s blog post!

In particular, when you open the app, you have a variety of different sections to explore, so here’s my thoughts on each section!

For You: 

 

Apple’s bubble feature was a clever way for me to select the music I love.

Whilst I may have enjoyed the bubble task at the start (where you select your favourite music genres and artists), Apple’s attempt to predict my large music taste was a massive failure. At times, it did well with suggestions such as Nero, Swedish House Mafia and Avicii. But at the same time, suggestions of Kelly Clarkson, Justin Timberlake and Kylie Minogue were not so accurate.

Apple’s suggestion of Avicii is promising, but Justin Timberlake is not my style of music.

New:

The ‘Hot Tracks’ and ‘Top Songs’ sections are very accurate.

It is this section of the app that I was particularly impressed with when I gave it a trial. It’s ability to present the latest top songs or hot tracks in a particular genre that I might like was on point.

Radio:

Whilst this playlist boasts a load of new songs, the balance between old and new tracks isn’t there. As well as that, most of the songs with grey text can’t be played since they are yet to be released.

What is probably one of Apple Music’s most important features of its app, the Radio function wasn’t that good for me.

In particular, most playlists I came across recommended tracks I had already heard of/bought, rather than offering me new tracks to listen to. Instead, a more balanced playlist would have been a better alternative for this section of the app.

Connect:

A recent post by Calvin Harris on Apple Music.

With the ‘@’ symbol for a logo and the ability to ‘follow’ artists (both of which bare a resemblance to features of Twitter), Connect enables music lovers to ‘connect’ with their favourite musicians. However, it seems as though it hasn’t had the reception Apple intended.

Apart from electronic DJ Zedd asking fans for help on his latest track, most artists I followed just posted pictures of previous gigs on their pages.

Why? Probably because Apple’s attempt at a ‘social network for musicians’ bares too much resemblance to Twitter. In fact, artists commonly use Twitter to announce tours and new albums, so it’s no wonder why artists are struggling to think of something new to post ok Apple Music which they haven’t posted on another social network.

Basically, if Apple hopes its Connect feature will become the new social network for music, it still had a way to go.

My Music:

Lastly, with Apple Music replacing the old Music app, all my iTunes music has now been placed in one section within Apple Music. Whilst the layout of this section isn’t bad, I would prefer having Apple Music as a separate app which I can move into my ‘Useless’ app folder. That way, I could access my music outside of Apple Music.
Alongside this, My Music seems to be the only section of the app where you can play music offline, which could be an issue for some music lovers.
So overall, I’m not really a fan of Apple Music. Whilst it may have the Apple interface we all know and love, it promises nothing particularly new or exciting in the market of streaming services.

Have you made use of Apple Music’s free trial? What do you think? Comment below!

Liam

Review: ‘Liquid Spirit’ by Gregory Porter

It was after watching his phenomenal performance at this year’s Glastonbury that I decided to buy Gregory Porter’s latest album, Liquid Spirit.


Gregory Porter recently performed at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. Source: gregoryporter.com

As well as promising laid-back tracks such as the powerful Water Under Bridges and Hey Laura, the album also contains smooth soul when it comes to Liquid Spirit and Musical Genocide.

However, aside from Lonesome Lover and The “In” Crowd promising fast-paced jazz, most of the album contains more traditional, slower swing music. Whilst it’s not a bad thing as such, it would have been nice to have seen a better balance between the two style. Nevertheless, Gregory Porter’s talented vocals are great to listen to regardless.

With Gregory’s unique brand of soul alongside groovy jazz solos, Liquid Spirit is a colourful and vibrant album which is a calming album to listen to.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Liam

Thoughts on Glastonbury 2015

So last week I was lucky enough to get tickets to this year’s Glastonbury festival! With one of my resolutions this year being to experience more, it’s fair to say that I’ve definitely experienced a lot when I went to Glastonbury this year.

Tuesday 23rd (late evening) and Wednesday 24th June (early morning):

Part of the queue to get in on the Tuesday evening – it was huge!

It was in the late hours of Tuesday and the early hours of Wednesday that we completed our journey to Glastonbury. Once in the queue, we then had to wait for 6 hours until the Glastonbury gates finally opened…

Wednesday 24th June:

As the first day of the festival, not that many things were on. However, this meant that I could explore the large area that is Worthy Farm. Whilst it was easy to get lost (at first, since the Glastonbury app had a handy GPS map), the sculptures and stage designs were interesting to look at.


      

Thursday 25th June:

Similar to that of Wednesday’s plans, Thursday was another day for me to explore the festival. This time, more stalls were open so I had a plan for the day: including visiting the Guardian stall to buy a copy and a free rucksack, getting a festival T-shirt (of course) and collecting freebies such as a copy of The Glastonbury Free Press (their on-site newspaper) and a free phone pouch.


As well as this, after seeing my first Glastonbury performance (Wilko Johnson – see below), I noticed that the DeafZone stall was nearby! Of course, as a deaf person myself I had to have a look and say hello! After having a look, I was thrilled to see that they offer free BSL taster sessions!

After seeing Wilko Johnson perform, I attended the workshop. It was great to meet other people who were interesting in learning sign language. It was great as I learnt a lot of new signs (as well as the one for Glastonbury – haha!). Thanks to everyone at DeafZone for a great BSL lesson!



Wilko Johnson:

 

Aside from that, I decided to go with the rest of the people I was camping with to go and see Wilko Johnson perform. Despite not having heard of him, the style of music is a definite crowd-pleaser and Wilko’s enthusiasm on-stage, as well the bassist and drummer, were to be admired.


Friday 26th June:

Friday was the start of the main three days of music. To start with, the 11:00am act on The Other Stage has always had a traditional air of mystery…

Special Guests (The Charlatans):

It was revealed to be that of The Charlatans! Although they were not my style of music, the vocalist’s style (similar to that of Noel Gallagher’s), along with the occasional, vibrant song were interesting to listen to.

Chronixx:

I was fortunate to see their set in the wait for James Bay’s performance. Promising laid-back, relaxed reggae, Chronixx was a chilled act to listen to on a sunny Friday afternoon.

James Bay:

I have heard of Bay through his tracks: Hold Back the River and Scars. However, I was reluctant to buy his album. But now, after a promising set featuring different styles and a few covers, I am now buying his album as soon as I get the chance.

Wilkinson:

I decided to give Wilkinson’s set only a brief listen, and that is for a variety of reasons. One, was because my phone was nearing 20% battery (not good when I wanted to take more photos). Two, was that his act involved a person who’s main purpose is to pump up the crowd (I personally prefer the DJ on his own, but there are exceptions). Lastly, although his well-known tracks are good, his set wasn’t enough to get the crowd moving, in my opinion.

Phil Jupitus:


This happened by chance after charging my phone at EE as it was running low. Conveniently Phil’s act was just about to start in a stage opposite. Overall, his set was a humorous moan about recent occurrences in his life that made an interesting comedy act to watch during the festival.

Circa Waves:

I decided to listen to this band after their incredibly catchy song, T-Shirt Weather (which, after being played at the end of their set, changed the heavy downpour of rain into ‘T-Shirt weather’). With powerful drum beats and vibrant guitar riffs, Curca Waves’ music has a certain nostalgic and summer feel that is perfect for Glastonbury Festival.

Annie Mac (Live Broadcast):

With time to kill between Circa Waves and SIGMA, I decided to search desperately through the programme in an attempt to find an act I could watch to pass the time. First off was Annie Mac’s live broadcast, which, although Mac’s tastes as a DJ were impressive, it did get a tad tedious after a while…

Ben Isaac:

For that reason, I decided to look elsewhere, and discovered Ben Isaac was performing. Intrigued to discover new music, I gave most of his set a listen. A talented soul musician who interacts well with his audience, Ben Isaac is worth a listen.

Sigma:

With massive hits such as Changing (feat. Paloma Faith) and Nobody to Love, it was easy to be impressed by Sigma’s performance on the Sonic stage.

As well as talented male and female supporting singers, Sigma’s covers of My Love (Route 99 feat. Jess Glynne), Hideaway (Kiesza) and Show Me Love (Robin S) created a commendable performance for the Drum and Bass duo.

However, with my dislike towards DJ ‘supporters’, the ‘supporter’s’ regular promotion of Sigma’s debut album did start to get annoying near the last half of their set.

Mark Ronson:

Most of Mark Ronson’s set was running at the same time as SIGMA’s. However, whilst waiting for Rudimental to start I was able to catch the last of his set. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? (with an appearance by Boy George), an original version of Valerie, and Uptown Funk were definite crowd-pleasers, with Uptown Funk being the perfect conclusion to his set.

Rudimental:

The last act of the day was drum-and-bass act Rudimental. Back in 2014, I have Rudimental a miss at V Festival to see another act instead. Shortly after, however, I was gutted to miss a performance others said was unmissable.

With a large line-up featuring a talented drummer, funky jazz section and emotive vocalists, Rudimental already looked promising as they marched on with bright red flares in their hands.

Aside from this, the ‘supporter’ for Rudimental was unlike the others I saw that day, with the ‘crow pleaser’ knowing ho to entertain the crowd for such a long period of time. So well, in fact, that brutal mosh pits occurred near me where I feared for my life (OK, I may be exaggerating that part).

Anyway, with tracks such as Free, Waiting All Night, Bloodstream, Feel the Love and Not Giving In, Rudimental are one of those few musicians that promise a live performance as great as the tracks themselves (with Dizee Rascal’s appearance a pleasant surprise during their performance).

Saturday 27th June:

Frank Turner:

I had originally heard of Frank Turner through personal recommendations. For that reason, I decided to see his performance on the Other Stage on Saturday.

Aside from his humorous conversations between songs, Turner’s style of music is one to dance along to. With a soulful voice, Frank Turner was a great start to Saturday’s music.

George Ezra:

At V Festival last year, George Ezra was on the line-up, but I was unable to see him. However, now I was able to see his performance on the Pyramid stage in full.

With Ezra playing popular songs such as Budapest, Blame it on Me and Listen to the Man, the musician’s set promised upbeat pop in sections, but lacked the same emotion near the end of his set, where most of his well-known songs had been played at the start.

Soil & Pimp Sessions:

I was fortunate to see a bit of Soil & Pimp Sessions before Gregory Porter’s performance. With their style of ‘death jazz’, the creative freedom of their music was refreshing to listen to.

Gregory Porter:

It was Porter’s emotive soul on tracks such as Hey Laura and Liquid Spirit which drew me to watch his set. After watching his performance, it was fair to say that Gregory is an incredible act to see live.

With a relaxed, soulful voice that sounds like a mixture of Cee Lo Green and Aloe Blacc, Porter’s talented vocals, combined with upbeat jazz, compelled me to buy his latest album.

Paloma Faith:

After a quick dash from Gregory Porter’s performance to watch Paloma, I was a tad late to her opening. However, Paloma’s set boasted recognisable songs which fans could sing along to. But at the same time, her performance lacked songs which fans could dance to. Instead, it was only when Paloma invited dance duo Sigma on-stage for their track, Changing, that fans began dancing to Faith’s soulful music.

Gorgon City:

Upon listening to Gorgon City’s set, I was surprised to see that I already knew a couple of their songs. Whilst their deep house style present throughout their set could be seen as repetitive, the vocal talents of their two supporting singers was impressive.

Deadmau5:

Despite being gutted that the track, Professional Griefers didn’t make an appearance, and that most of his set was performed from inside a ‘cage’ (preventing the audience from seeing him), Deadmau5’s performance was definitely unique. Throughout his set there were cinematic light shows, as well as a bizarre interlude where the DJ removed his famous mouse head, sat on a couch and started drinking and smoking. Overall, the DJ’s set promised gripping and exciting electronica which listeners could easily dance along to.

Public Service Broadcasting:

After Deadmau5 had finished his performance, it was a quick dash to the Glade stage (which was, conveniently, next to the Other stage) to see Public Service Broadcasting.

A band which fuses vintage footage with backing instrumentals, Public Service Broadcasting promise a weird but unique style of music which was intriguing to listen to.

Sunday 28th June:

Hozier:

Rae Morris:

Unfortunately, after seeing Rae perform, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that the balance between Morris’ harrowing vocals and backing instruments wasn’t complementary. In a sense, the set felt too laid-back, and relaxed, and lacked the emotion it needed to better captivate an attentive audience.

Lionel Ritchie:

With the legend that is Lionel Ritchie being on Glastonbury’s bill this year, I had to see his performance. With hits such as Dancing on the Ceiling, All Night Long and Hello, along with his friendly conversations with the audience, Lionel’s set was definitely a memorable one.

Alt-J:

Alt-J was one of those bands who I had heard of, and was curious to find out more. Surprisingly, I didn’t know that they were the singers of Matilda and Something Good. However, after a few songs into their performance (when most of their well-known songs had been played), I deemed their style of rock a tad repetitive and went in search of another act to watch.

Belle and Sebastian:

With some time on my hands before The Who’s performance, I was a bit confused as to who to see next (unlike the last two days, Sunday boasted less choice). However, with Belle and Sebastian’s set, their performance promised colourful and vibrant pop that created easy listening.

Jamie T:

Desperate to fill the gap until The Who’s headline slot, I decided to stay at The Other Stage to watch Jamie T. However, aside from his music not really appealing to my tastes, the gig wasn’t one of my favourites.

During his act, security had to enter the crowd to remove a flare, I got crushed numerous times when Jamie decided to get close to the audience. Lastly, I was kicked in the side of a head by a crowd-surfer, who was later ejected. Basically, it was eventful, and I decided I would give the rest of his performance a miss.

The Who:

Whenever I tell someone that I haven’t heard of The Who, I always get surprised looks. However, I had heard of Who Are You? As for the rest of the set, their humour and exaggerated stage performance made their set a must-see during the festival.

So that was my time at Glastonbury! If you went, let me know who your favourite act was in the comments below!

Or perhaps you didn’t go but watched the BBC coverage? If so, who was your favourite act to watch on TV?

Liam

 

Musical Discovery: ‘Firestone’ by Kygo feat. Conrad Sewell

Upon hearing Firestone for the first time, Kygo’s traditional style of synth melodies was catchy. However, with a lack of drums in the verses, I was put-off with the soulful feel. Instead, it became a song where the chorus was memorable, but the verses were a let down. But now, the song has grown on me, and Firestone is this week’s Musical Discovery.

As for Conrad Sewell’s vocals on the track, the song definitely has an emotive soul feel to it due to the verses being so basic and with a lack of instruments. Unlike Parson James’ soul in Stole the Show, this track has a vibrant and colourful feel to it. Also, with the track being released in December 2014, there is a possibility that it could last into summer 2015 and be a contender for this year’s summer anthem.

What do you think of this song? Comment below!

Liam

HearAngel: A Safer Way to Listen to Music

I remember being on public transport and opposite me would sit someone who clearly likes their music. Although I love music and am always interested in finding new music, what concerns me about people listening to me is when they don’t protect their hearing. As a rough guide, if I can hear the music from your headphones/earphones from opposite you, then that’s too loud. Whilst one song ‘won’t hurt’, listening to a whole album from your favourite band at that same volume probably isn’t best.

Apple themselves have since created a simple way of reminding users about high volume music/audio with their “high volume” warning bars, but now there’s an app which sets the audio and music to a level which is both appropriate and safe to listen to – HearAngel.

With HearAngel, the app controls the volume of the music and audio you listen to on your phone to prevent you from damaging your hearing. As well as that, the control is maintained over the course of the day to prevent users from going over their ‘Daily Sound Allowance’.

For those still questioning whether they should get the app, the website also has a useful section which demonstrates what hearing loss – as well as tinnitus – is like. As a deaf young person with tinnitus, I cannot begin to describe how annoying tinnitus is. Imagine a loud ringing or whistle (like that of a kettle) which will not go away when you are trying to sleep, or whenever there is a moment of silence. It sounds annoying, doesn’t it? Therefore, having this app on your phone is a great way to look after your hearing when listening to music you love and prevent you from suffering long-term damage to your hearing.

The app is due to be released soon, but those interested can find out more information about the app by visiting their website, following them on Twitter and liking their page on Facebook.

Liam

Blog Awards #20: The Versatile Blogger Award

Last week I was nominated for ‘The Versatile Blogger Award’ by Amy at Smooth Amy. Thanks so much for the nomination, Amy – be sure to check out her blog!

The Rules:

  • Tell your readers 7 facts about yourself.
  • List 15 bloggers who you would like to nominate.

The Facts:

  1. I am double-jointed.
  2. I am mildly/moderately deaf.
  3. I have tried to learn the ukulele, piano and guitar, but can play the drums to a Grade 8 standard.
  4. I am currently writing a book.
  5. I am currently teaching myself British Sign Language.
  6. I have three bookshelves full of books.
  7. My favourite song at the moment is Pay No Mind by Madeon.

The Nominees:

  1. Deafie Blogger
  2. Sunshine in a Dress
  3. Thrift O’Clock
  4. Into the Bookcase
  5. Loving Life in Wellies

(Sorry, I could only think of five!)

Thanks again to Amy for nominating me, and congratulations to all those nominated!

Liam

P.S. This is now my 20th blog award! So thank you so much for everyone who has nominated me for one. From now on though, I shall be mentioning blog award nominations in my Weekly Update posts. 

Since I have quickly running out of facts, future ‘acceptance’ posts will now only thank the blogger who nominated me. I will also be archiving my Blog Awards page of the blog, too.

Musical Discovery: ‘Don’t Look Down’ by Martin Garrix feat. Usher

Martin Garrix’s style of electronic music has always been hard for me to like. With tracks such as Wizard and Animals, the main melody is catchy, but the actual chorus is underwhelming and a tad disappointing. However, with Garrix’s latest single involving a collaboration with Usher, the addition of vocals in Don’t Look Back makes this song my favourite track from Garrix so far. 

The track begins with a powerful guitar introduction that is typical of vibrant and euphoric electronic tracks like this. After this, Usher’s vocals are quickly brought in. With Usher lending his vocals to previous dance hits such as Without You (a collaboration with David Guetta) and DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love (a collaboration with Pitball), it’s clear that his singing talents are fitting to this track.

Then comes the bridge, with a powerful drum beat and catchy bass riff leading into a chorus which demonstrates Garrix’s unique style of electronica. Reminiscent of retro video game soundtracks, the ‘exotic’, vibrant and ‘poppy’ synth melodies are similar to that of Animals.

Lastly, with most of the song being colourful and euphoric, there is one section where I feel the transition between verses and choruses don’t quite work. In the verse: Are your hands shaking begins with Usher’s vocals, where some of Garrix’s backing music should be present.

Nevertheless, Don’t Look Back is a euphoric and colourful summer track which, although released in March, will definitely be played over the next few months.

What do you think? Comment below!

Liam