We’ve been here before, but now a stronger Labour can hold the Tories to account | The Friday Article

It should have happened in the first instance. Ever since the result of the EU referendum was announced, Labour and Jeremy Corbyn could have made gains off the back of a vote against the political establishment. A crumbling Conservative Party, defeated by its own arrogance over the remain vote, could have been held to account for its mistakes. Now, in a moment of pure déjà vu, the Tories have returned to that very same state – except this time, the Labour Party will be there to hold them to account.

Photo: Andy Miah/Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/.

Blairism has well and truly died – in its place, an appetite for socialism clearly displayed amongst the youth vote and the fact it simply wasn’t a landslide for the Conservatives. Now, Theresa May and the Democratic Unionist Party (or May’s successor) are trapped in a political stalemate: a minority government (even if it is with the appalling DUP) is not strong enough to deal with the mammoth task of Brexit. “There’ll be a second election soon,” predicted the former Labour MP on ITV News last night.

It could very well happen, and it’s essential that Corbyn uses this interim period to continue to build local support for Labour.  The Conservative majority diminished this time around, and could fall by even lower numbers should the state of play with the Con-DUP pact be so catastrophic. Much like how Labour MPs were subtly preparing for (and some, fearing) a snap election shortly after Brexit, Corbyn’s team and Labour members must continue campaigning and putting pressure on the Tories as though another election is imminent.

Now, there’s nothing in Labour’s way – there’s no coup or a sense of identity crisis which could throw Jeremy’s leadership into question. The party is now united, redefined, and is pushing out an anti-establishment sentiment which has been brewing for almost a year, and has now returned to the surface.

We’ve seen passion and engagement present amongst Labour voters. It’s important now, should there be a second vote, that election fatigue does not allow our young people to fall back into disenfranchisement – nor should a divisive Conservative and DUP partnership.

Labour must continue putting out its message in Parliament, and local communities need to do the same. A new wave of voters are engaged, and that’s not going away easily.

The fight is on.

Musical Discovery: ‘Don’t You Feel It’ by Sub Focus feat. ALMA (Sub Focus & 1991 Remix)

Whilst the original version of Don’t You Feel It showed that Sub Focus (real name Nick Douma) had adopted a more deep house style, it’s his latest remix with 1991 which takes us back to the drum-and-bass style of the DJ’s previous two albums.

It’s a remix fit for clubs and gigs. An atmospheric introduction calms the crowd whilst emphasis is placed  on ALMA’s vocals, then it quickly progresses into the DnB at the centre of the track itself. However, the balance between vocals and rhythm isn’t exactly 50/50, with the song eager to progress to the next hook: a loop of the line I need to be close to you which repeats one time too many. However, when combined with the lyric don’t you feel it too, the rhyme and vocal melody fit together seamlessly.

As for the beat drop, the first half sees drums underneath the original chorus, before a synth tune is introduced. It’s the light trill during this section which is a joy to listen to. The blending of euphoric and fast-paced music, although unequal, keeps the track moving forward in a satisfying rise-and-fall motion – getting listeners excited for the next drop whilst also offering the space to breathe in between.

As a whole, this new remix seems to suggest that Douwma hasn’t forgotten the drum-and-bass vibe of his sophomore album, Torus. Now, with a third album approaching, here’s hoping the DJ establishes the perfect balance between old and new which will keep long-time fans happy.

Review: ‘Happy’ by Derren Brown

The best non-fiction books are ones which state the obvious, whilst presenting it in an entirely different light which changes our view on an issue. So, when the illusionist Derren Brown explores a feeling we’ve experienced on many occasions during our lifetime – happiness – one would be forgiven for thinking we know all about joy, feeling good and how to be positive. However, Brown approaches such an intriguing topic with refreshing insight, sincerity and the occasional dash of humour – making us question something we thought we’ve understood for years.

Throughout the book, Derren takes a whistle-stop tour of the many things which affects happiness – from fame to grief to anger. The magician constantly refers to what history tells us about being happy, often referring to Stoicism and easy-to-use techniques for readers to adapt in their everyday lives. Constantly, Brown rubbishes current self-help manuals about happiness, instead offering a simplistic alternative.

Whilst the author’s main messages are clear, the only downside is that it is not a book to be enjoyed in bitesize chunks. Unfortunately, the gap caused by my second year at university has led to me taking several months to finish this book, but as mentioned previously, this has not stopped me from understanding the main tone of Happy.

It’s a book which can be seen as being the second part of Brown’s recent stage show, Miracle, which tapped into the idea of us having the power to rewrite our own life stories. It’s this theatrical performance style – which sees Derren present philosophical and psychological ideas in a sympathetic tone – that is transferred into this book.

Warm, inspiring and uplifting, Derren Brown’s Happy is an eye-opening exploration of a sentiment we always thought we understood – until now…

Musical Discovery: ‘Obsession’ by Vice feat. Jon Bellion

Obsession is a collaboration between two artists I’ve yet to listen to (although I have heard of Jon Bellion before). As a song by Marshmello finished on Spotify, the streaming service was quick to suggest another song that I might enjoy, and it was right. High-pitched vocals combine with clear, bouncy synths in this dance track that sounds all too familiar.

It’s familiar in the sense that straight away, the opening synth sounds reminiscent of Iggy Azalea’s Fancy, whilst the chorus – as some commenters on the above YouTube have claimed – has hints of NEIKED’s Sexual. However, this song is lucky enough to not be shoved under the typical ‘dance’ or ‘club’ genre, and that is thanks to Jon Bellion’s vocals.

A soft, smooth voice guides us through the verses, but it is, of course, the chorus where the emphasis is placed. Bellion’s whining taps in to the groovy, lazy and laid-back style of this song, offering something different at a time where dance and pop all sounds too similar.

Exploring the Lincoln Knights Trail 2017

Whilst I’ve said about turning The Life of a Thinker into an online portfolio for my journalism, Sunday blog posts have always been an opportunity for me to update you all on what I’ve been up to recently, and I don’t think that will ever change.

Despite finishing university already, I was back in Lincoln this weekend for the School of English Journalism Ball (where, surprisingly, I won the ‘Photo of the Year’ award, which was nice). However, prior to all the exciting celebrations, I had a day to myself, and decided to embark on the Knights Trail which has descended on the city for the summer.

It’s because I hadn’t enrolled at university yet that I just missed 2015’s event – the Barons Trail. Now, it’s sculptures of knights to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Battle of Lincoln. It was a beautiful day, and with more free time on my hands, I thought I would also film the experience too.

Although I am keen on this post being light-hearted and informal, the rise in ‘tourism trails’ (Paddington Bear, Gromit and Shaun the Sheep have all had their own trails in other areas of the UK) has interested me lately. After all, it promotes a sense of adventure and experience which taps into the current souvenir culture in society.

Gone are the days where just an autograph or anything materialistic would suffice, it’s now about having the evidence to show that such an occurrence, meeting or activity took place. Whether that’s a photo of the celebrity whose autograph you asked for, or something else to trophy, tourists want a sense of satisfaction and gratification – and the Lincoln Knight’s Trail certainly does that.

As I took a photo of the final sculpture outside the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, I felt a great sense of accomplishment, as I browsed at the collection of photos on my phone of all 36 sculptures. Tourism is all about a sense of adventure, and even when I’ve been living in Lincoln for two years, I felt that this weekend.

Anyway, without further ado, here is a gallery of all of the sculptures:

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The Lincoln Knights Trail runs from May 20 to September 3, 2017. More information can be found here.

Emma Blackery’s ‘Magnetised’ – an honest, powerful EP about heartbreak and moving on

YouTuber and singer-songwriter Emma Blackery’s latest EP Magnetised is, quite simply, an emotional rollercoaster. Granted, the record jumps between dance tracks (such as Nothing Without You and Don’t Come Home) and stripped back soul (in Magnetised and Instead), but all songs unite around the same powerfully honest tone. Over six tracks, the artist packs in a variety of feelings, accentuated with atmospheric instrumentals, to create the sense of ‘mending’ – the one word which Blackery has used to describe the EP.

‘Magnetised’ was released on iTunes and Spotify today. Photo: Emma Blackery on Twitter.

Whether it’s a thanking an ex, moving reflections on unrequited love, or a dismissive ballad, the message in each track is conveyed with confidence by Emma’s voice and her choice of lyrics. It’s a skill which means that every song stands alone in its own right, whilst also contributing to a bigger picture. Similarly, for new listeners, there’s something for everyone. For fans of upbeat, drum-heavy pop, Nothing Without You or Don’t Come Home would appeal to them, country fans may sense a Taylor Swift vibe in Fixation or Human Behaviour, whilst those seeking catharsis may prefer the title track, for example.

Meanwhile, for fans of Emma Blackery’s YouTube channel, some songs will of course sound similar. Instead and Don’t Come Home have already been released to fans online, albeit in a different form. Now, with a refreshing studio quality to them (and even a complete redesign for Don’t Come Home), the two tracks take on an entirely new identity within the EP’s narrative. With moving violins melodies, Instead is even more emotional this time around, whilst Don’t Come Home is transformed into a sad poppy track which is in direct contrast to Nothing Without You.

As each track tackles a different problem in a relationship, Blackery has six tracks to demonstrate her vocal talents. The two ‘bops’ of the EP (the opener and Don’t Come Home) see the artist tackle and execute impassioned high notes, whilst the other, more stripped-back releases see Emma showcase her softer voice. As well as having a brilliantly constructed message at its core, Magnetised is the EP which solidifies her style as an artist.

Musical Discovery: ‘Don’t You Feel It’ by Sub Focus feat. ALMA

It’s been nearly four years since Sub Focus (real name Nick Douwma) released his sophomore album, Torus, in September 2013. A drum-heavy collection of tracks perfect for the club, the record built upon the drum-and-bass style of his self-titled debut album. Yet now, the 35-year-old DJ appears to have spiced up his music a little. Nobody KnowsLove Devine and Lingua (feat. Stylo G) all contained edgy, deep house vibes with numerous musical effects. However, with his latest release – Don’t You Feel It (feat. ALMA) – the artist returns to somewhat familiar ground.

Of Douwma’s latest releases, Don’t You Feel It is the second single to feature credited vocalists. The first, which saw Stylo G take to the mic, involved more vocal distortion and a bouncier dance track. This time, with ALMA lending a helping hand, the song’s structure sees a return to the Torus days – with a clear voice (with no effects) and the build-up appearing in the chorus, not throughout.

With pulsing bass and simplistic rhythm guiding the song to the instrumental, the focus in the verses is very much on ALMA’s sassy, smooth and groovy vocals. As for the main melody itself, this is where long-term listeners can detect an evolution in Sub Focus’ style. Gone are the days of fluttering, euphoric dance, instead being replaced with a slightly tropical, heavy tone.

Whilst previous releases saw Douwma delve into a harsher club sound, Don’t You Feel It sees the DJ return to comfortable middle ground, with a strong vocalist and a progressive instrumental to boot.