Musical Discovery: ‘Tears’ by Clean Bandit feat. Louisa Johnson

It was the lead single from their debut album which launched both Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne into the limelight. Whilst New Eyes went on to be hugely successful, Rather Be defined the unique style of both Clean Bandit and their first album. Now, Tears (feat. Louisa Johnson) has the power to do the exact same thing. In this case, it can kickstart Louisa’s musical career whilst setting the tone for the eagerly-anticipated second album.

If this does indeed hint at what their follow-up album has to offer, then Tears certainly leaves me both curious and sceptical. There’s no doubt that Clean Bandit have once again chosen an amazing artist to work with (Louisa’s vocals are soft, soulful and powerful), but in terms of instrumentals, it does get off to a bumpy start before settling on the right mood.

At the start, we hear nothing much apart from the lyrics, but over the course of the first minute of the song, the pace becomes rather messy. It starts with no electronic drums before developing into a slow, simplistic beat around 30 seconds in. Then, it morphs into an odd, triplet-style tempo before finally settling on a more complex, fast-paced rhythm.

It’s towards the end of Tears where the track enters familiar territory, with a groovy drum beat, flourishing strings and traditional synth stabs.

This new track from Clean Bandit is certainly different, but suggests a new direction for an already unique band.

What do you think of Tears? What do you think of Louisa Johnson’s vocals? Comment below!

Liam

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Why I will always be a DC Comics fan

It had been on my to-watch list since December, but on Friday this week I finally got round to watching Watchmen – based on a popular comic book series from DC. It’s quite a long movie, but after I finished the film, it became one of my favourite movies, and cemented my belief that DC Comics have the best superheroes.

OK, so before I explain why, I should probably give a nod to Deadpool – my favourite Marvel movie. However, the reason as to why I like it does tie into why I’m not a fan of Marvel’s cinematic universe. What Deadpool gets so right is that it doesn’t take itself seriously as a film, and mocks the over-the-top attitude of Marvel films on the whole. Where Marvel’s films are exaggerated, DC’s movies are often serious in tone.

In both Watchmen and Batman, most of the protagonists are superheroes without superhuman abilities, which I think leads to better characters. Yes, there is Iron Man on Marvel’s side but he lacks another key trait which makes DC’s heroes so interesting. If you look at Batman and Rorschach, their psychological backgrounds are what make them unique individuals. This also leads to the creation of amazing villains as well. I mean, The Joker is without a doubt one of the greatest comic book villains, simply because he is so psychopathic.

Another point to make – where again, Deadpool is exempt from this – is that DC films are dark and gritty in tone. Granted, Marvel’s cinematic universe does target a family audience as opposed to DC, but if superheroes really existed, they wouldn’t be as moral as they are in Marvel movies. Whilst Batman does have a very strong moral compass (a no-kill policy, to be exact), Rorschach’s morals bend a bit (based on the movie). This, combined with visual effects which made me grimace a lot, is far more realistic than Marvel’s universe, in my opinion. Whether that’s because DC’s characters are more human than superhuman, I don’t know. Either way, it’s the fact that DC comic book characters are lifelike, realistic and have an intriguing psychological background which makes them more interesting than Marvel’s superhumans.

What do you think? Which do you prefer – DC or Marvel? Have you seen Watchmen? Comment below!

Liam

Why Tim Farron should lead the fight against the Conservatives’ plans for tuition fees | The Friday Article

Past mistakes are affecting parties on the political spectrum. Labour are worrying about the upcoming report from the Chilcot enquiry, whilst a flawed mayoral campaign by the Conservatives exposed hatred and racism in the party. Now, the Tories’ plans to further increase university tuition fees have reminded us all of a ghost which still haunts the Liberal Democrats Party, but this may be the chance for them to finally move on.

Tim Farron
Tim Farron should fight against the Tories’ plans for tuition fees, and rid the party of the mistrust caused by Nick Clegg. Photo: Liberal Democrats on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

After all, it was something the Lib Dems hoped would go with Nick Clegg following his resignation as leader of the party. For previous leaders involved in government, their broken promises and radical policies have always been assigned to them more than the political group they represent – take Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher, for example. However, this didn’t happen for The Liberal Democrats. They lost 49 seats in last year’s general election, mistrust still lingers around them and the media – presuming the party is ‘non-existent’ – has focussed on Labour and the Conservatives’ internal affairs instead.

Granted, the Liberal Democrats talking about tuition fees would only be seen as prying open a wound which was doing its best to heal. Yet, that is precisely the point. The mistrust generated comes from broken promises on tuition fees, so why not start the process of winning the trust back by fighting against that exact policy?

At the moment, Labour’s petition has had over 195,000 signatures, but as the party who introduced university tuition fees in 1998, their impact with the petition could crumble should the Conservatives decide to bring up that fact. Meanwhile, the issue with the Liberal Democrats is slightly different and more understandable. Unlike Labour’s conscious decision to implement the fees, Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats had to accept David Cameron’s plans to raise tuition fees, despite it not being their intention. It’s a small contrast, but it’s something the general public are accepting, slowly and reluctantly.

With Tim Farron as their new leader and success in this year’s local elections, the Liberal Democrats are on the rise with renewed passion and motivation, but they still have a way to go in winning back the public’s trust. Whilst the controversy over tuition fees has always somewhat restrained the Lib Dems since 2010, now, it may in fact set them free.

Liam

Review: ‘TED Talks’ by Chris Anderson

Ideas fascinate everyone. For me, thought-provoking talks and television programmes create this new sense of excitement. An initial notion shared with so many others can have unlimited potential – it can spark a chain reaction of new ideas, creativity and inspiration. It’s a fascinating and mesmerising idea, and is one explored in-depth in Chris Anderson’s guide to public speaking, TED Talks.


Everyone finds at least one concept of public speaking terrifying, whether it’s remembering the whole talk, or this sense of judgement that comes from talking to a large audience. Thankfully, Chris’ experience with many TED talks has helped him to understand what works in a talk, and what doesn’t. Written in a clear path from preparation to the talk itself, the book breaks down the complex idea of public speaking into something everyone can understand. Funnily enough, accessible ideas is something mentioned towards the end of the book, and something which can only inspire a reader to share their knowledge with others.

I was only halfway through the book when I was asked to do a talk in Leeds (which I mentioned here). Whilst I hadn’t read all of TED Talks, Anderson’s passion and conversational tone in the book definitely helped when it came to the presentation itself. As well as sharing skills and advice, it’s the book’s focus on ideas which is really exciting.

In particular, the fact that we regularly share opinions and ideas with others also goes to show that this book isn’t just beneficial from a public speaking perspective (a point which is raised by Adam Grant on the back of the hardback edition). If you love sharing perspectives – be it offstage or onstage – then TED Talks is the book which can excite you, inspire you and give you the confidence to do so.

Rating: 5/5

What are your thoughts on public speaking? Have you ever seen a TED Talk? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Cry’ by Sigma feat. Take That

It’s a collaboration which has had some people scratching their heads. For Take That, These Days was the last single to slightly tap into the dance genre. Now, the band have joined forces with drum-and-bass duo Sigma for this track, Cry.

Despite the genre shift for Take That, Sigma always preserve the guest vocals and the link to their original style. In this case, beginning the track with Gary Barlow and a piano is a familiar sound for fans of the pop trio.

Even the chorus covers ground Take That fans will recognise, with harmonised vocals placed over synth stabs and a driving drum beat. All this, combined with catchy and memorable lyrics create a euphoric track worth putting on your summer playlist.

What do you think of Cry? Is it a good collaboration between Sigma and Take That? Comment below!

Liam

With thanks to TED: Public Speaking in Leeds

I’ve never had any problems when it comes to talking about myself or hobbies to other people, but for a lot of people – including me – public speaking is still a mighty beast to conquer.

A few weeks back, I was asked by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) to speak to their Youth Advisory Board about deafness, being a deaf radio presenter and being on the YAB last year (read more about that here).

I was delighted, and conveniently, I had bought a public speaking book off Amazon a few days before. In reference to the title, this book is Chris Anderson’s Ted Talks, which certainly helped give me some tips and confidence when it came to my presentation.

Aside from feeling slightly nervous, it went really well. Thanks so much to NDCS and to the YAB for having me and asking interesting questions!

Have you done public speaking before? What are your techniques? Comment below!

Liam

An iTunes lover moves to Spotify…

What if I told you that I’ve mostly listened to music on iTunes for the past few years, with the occasional voucher funding new songs in my library? You’d be right to say that I’ve made quite an expensive mistake – especially when my collection of music on Apple is over 300 albums strong.

Spotify Logo
It’s been a while, but I’ve finally made the switch to Spotify. Photo source: Scott Beale on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

Well, after much persuasion, I’ve done something I should have done long ago and moved to Spotify. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’d have seen my Musical Problems post, where I talk about songs which I’m a fan of, but I don’t feel compelled to buy. Now that I have Spotify, I’m free to listen to all of these songs for 99p for three months, thanks to quite a nice deal they have running lately.

I only just bought Spotify last night, but aside from that benefit, there’s also the fact that songs I couldn’t find on iTunes such as Disappointed by Chlöe Howl are available on Spotify. Granted, Taylor Swift still has things to sort out with the service, but I’ve never been that big of a fan of her. Anyway, there’s also the playlist functions, which I am very much looking forward to messing around with.

So what could this mean for Musical Discoveries and the blog in general? I hope that I can start sharing more public playlists with you, and it also means that I can start to look at album reviews now there’s not much of a cost element involved now. Some albums I have been looking at include Galantis’ PharmacyTourist History by Two Door Cinema Club and Caracal by Disclosure. It should also mean that new Musical Discovery posts shouldn’t be a problem, thanks to Spotify’s many playlists – including New Music Friday.

What do you think? Should I do more album reviews and playlists on the blog? Do you use iTunes, Apple Music or Spotify? Comment below!

Liam