A Thousand Words: A Collection of Exciting Occurrences

As the title of this blog post – a discreet reference to A Series of Unfortunate Events – suggests, this week has seen me plan a few concerts and performances for me to look forward to later this year.

The Hoosiers’ debut album, ‘The Trick to Life’ and their second release, ‘The Illusion of Safety’, both have pride of place at my home.

It started with The Hoosiers on Wednesday. The band, famous for their hits Goodbye Mr A and Worried About Ray, are stopping off in Lincoln as part of their Trick to Life 10th Anniversary Tour. Whilst I was fortunate enough to see them live before, their aforementioned debut album lies signed in a CD rack at home, with memories from a decade ago flooding back to me whenever I listen to it now. So, naturally, nostalgia compelled me to buy a ticket.

Yet, with tickets going on sale at 10am on Wednesday, I had feared that they would sell out whilst I was working. Thankfully for me, they didn’t, but anyone who has bought a gig ticket before knows just how urgent and stressful the buying process can be.

Look no further than later that evening, where a surprise notification on my phone warned me that more tickets were going on sale for a popular freshers event at 6pm. Out of the house, with a recently recharged phone, I remember hitting refresh straight after the clock hit 18:00 to tap on the new ticket link. The tickets were bought, and there was no greater feeling.

Finally, with just under three weeks to go until the big day, my tickets arrived for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. However, anxious about the view from the balcony and whether I may be unable to hear and see the performance, I asked about exchanging my tickets for a closer seat, which a wonderful employee at the ticket company was happy to do for me. I now look forward to sitting in the stalls for the show next month.

Musical Discovery: ‘Rich Love’ by One Republic with Seeb

It was only a matter of time before OneRepublic returned with another summer smash. Before the rise of trap and tropical house, the pop-rock five-piece joined forces with Alesso to create the club track, If I Lose Myself. Now, the band hook up with hit remixers Seeb for the upbeat and exotic bop, Rich Love.

Two years since their number one remix of Mike Posner’s I Took a Pill in Ibiza, the trio (formed of Simen Matre Eriksrud, Espen Berg and Niklas Strandbråten) have secured what can be described as their most high profile collaboration yet. By working with the group behind Counting Stars, Rich Love is more than likely to be the next single to propel the DJs into the spotlight once more.

It’s a combination of catchy lyrics and a fluid melody which really sells the track. Lines such as broke as a bottle of a wine stand out amongst fast-flowing vocals. Then comes a tune typical of Seeb (bouncy, trickling and with some hazy synth in the background) which offers a new style of anthemic pop for OneRepublic to play across their summer tour.
Rich Love is available now on iTunes and Spotify.

Review: ‘Swimming Pool Summer’ by Capital Cities

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Capital Cities. Late last year they returned with their track, Vowels, but it was all the way back in 2013 that the duo released a collection of songs – that was their debut album, In A Tidal Wave of History.

Now, the band reveal their new EP, Swimming Pool Summer. For those who hoped that Vowels was the build-up to their second album, it looks like that isn’t coming just yet.

Swimming Pool Summer Album Cover
‘Swimming Pool Summer’ follows on from Capital Cities’ 2013 debut album, ‘In A Tidal Wave of Mystery’.

The EP’s title track is a welcome return to Capital Cities’ original style (following a little funk detour with Vowels). Much like Safe and Sound‘s standout trumpet melody, this song has a repeated synth tune which makes this track memorable. Add that to the odd trumpet flourish, traditional harmonised vocals and a bouncy drum beat, and you have the groovy sound we know and love. At the end of the EP, we hear THCSRS remix the track, which is a fair re-version, but it’s the original which is the best of the two, with its nostalgia hit making it a stand-out track on the record.

The band’s signature tone is distorted in the second track on the four-song EP. Drop Everything still maintains the bouncy tempo apparent in a traditional Capital Cities bop, but now, the main melody is an electronic-heavy tune that feels somewhat out of place when listening to the band’s previous work. In the past, the group have always flirted with synths and electronica, though it has always been tame, calm and euphoric. With Drop Everything, much like how Vowels tapped into the increasingly popular funk scene, the track tries to chip in to the current electro scene (with a sound reminiscent of the DJ, Marshmello) – to mediocre success.

By the third track on the EP, one starts to assume that the record will be ‘old, new, old, new’ in terms of structure. A mix of Love Again and Farah Fawcett HairGirl Friday sees singers Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian repeat vocals in the hope that this will deliver a hit for them. Whilst the chorus and first verse set a chill tone, this vibe is quickly destroyed by the rapper Rick Ross. Regardless of the smooth flow, Rick’s interruption of the chorus just ends up being obnoxious, ruining the 50/50 balance that a collaboration should convey.

With a laid-back rhythm, the penultimate track, Drifting, has a fitting name. It’s a different style of electronica to the three other songs. Gone are the slightly auto-tuned vocals and bouncy drums, instead we hear a more pure, chilled sound which brings the EP to a relaxed finish (if we exclude the aforementioned remix).

However, with Girl Friday containing a flawed collaboration, Drop Everything drifting too far away from Capital Cities’ original style, THCSRS’ remix not adding much to the song, and Drifting being a chill track, it’s Swimming Pool Summer which is the only memorable song of note from the EP. At which point, you have to ask: would it have been better to have released the aforementioned track as a single in order to build up excitement for the second album, whenever that may be?

Although the EP does showcase further experimentation from Capital Cities, we are still left in the dark about what’s next for Simonian and Merchant.

Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, you decide.

Musical Discovery: ‘Thinking of You’ by Busted

I was wrong to assume that an electronic-funk style for Busted was a bad move for the trio. Whilst my opinions on their return single, Coming Home, remain the same (that its attempts to appeal to a teenage demographic with expletives is unneccessary), the band’s new album Night Driver is far from a turbulent transition into a new musical genre.

Take Thinking of You. Fluttering synth arpeggios linger underneath electronic vocals, as the band sings another song about another girl. From air hostesses to great-great-great granddaughters, to a woman who is ‘on fire’, a typical Busted theme remains in the new music – and let’s not forget the guitar bridge towards the end, which is a brief nod to older days.

Yet, the aspect of the track which stands out the most is the keyboard melody during the chorus, which sounds like three meowing cats (in a good way – it’s the best way of describing the sound). With regards to Bourne, Simpson and Willis’ vocals, a harmonic style in the verses mean that they’re pretty forgettable in the song, save for the chorus.

A track which has hints of Busted’s older days in amongst the new stuff, one wonders if Thinking of You would have made a better lead single than Coming Home. The answer? Quite possibly.

A Thousand Words: Hometown

As promised a few weeks ago, here is the first post in a new series which I am trying out on this blog, called ‘A Thousand Words’. Every week, I’ll share a photo from that week and talk more about it, in the hope it’ll encourage me to take more photos and talk more about lifestyle here on The Life of a Thinker.

A local concert I went to earlier this week, which got me thinking about getting to learn more about my home town.

You’d have thought after the craziness that is Glastonbury Festival, that I would have given concerts and gigs a break for a while, right?

Well, when the annual concert takes place in my home town (with two famous bands on the line-up), of course I had to check it out.

However, with this being my first big social outing at home since I’ve returned from university, this usually becomes an opportunity to see some familiar faces in amongst the crowds. I see old acquaintances from school, as well as those I didn’t really get on with. Yet, beyond these pros and cons, I came to realise a sense of distance from home.

In Lincoln, I’ve come to understand some of the inner workings of the city’s community (as required, of course, as a local journalist), but my focus must now shift back to the place I’ve lived at the longest. It’s time to spend some more time at home and find out what’s been going on whilst I’ve been away.

I’ve already had a glimpse into this thanks to the General Election coverage I took part in, but I have another idea as to how I can do this over the next few months. I’ll be sending some emails tomorrow.

Fingers crossed…

 

Glastonbury Festival 2017: A year of discovery

Sometimes, not having a clue whom you’re going to see at a festival is the best way to enjoy it. Last year, seeing all three headliners (Coldplay, Adele and Muse) was a no-brainer. However, with Glastonbury 2017 offering a less exciting list of headliners (save for the Foo Fighters, whom I was excited about ever since they were announced) and the line-up offering a more wide-ranging mix of artists, this year was all about finding new bands to add to my Spotify library.

Pyramid Stage with sunset

Where else to start than Royal Blood? As someone who isn’t usually a fan of the hard-hitting rock genre, I was a little bit unsure (solely relying on my faint knowledge of Lights Out to judge how good I thought they were). Yet, the end response was one of awe. For those who have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a drummer. Well, Ben Thatcher (Royal Blood’s drummer) had me spellbound throughout the hour-long set.

Aside from music, there have been a few performances and stages I’ve never visited, purely for the fact that the long walk back to the next stage meant that I could miss a lot of the following artist’s act. This year, that wasn’t a problem.

This meant I finally got round to seeing Doc Brown live (and grab a selfie with him afterwards, which was cool), as well as attend debates on democracy and fake news – the latter proving very useful for my upcoming university dissertation. Cheers, Glastonbury!

Oh, and 2017 was the year that I finally got to see the fire-breathing spider. Yes, in one corner of the farm is a giant metallic spider which is home to electronic music, and a Metamorphosis Show. I won’t spoil the show for those planning to go to Worthy Farm in future years, but I hope the below picture gives you an idea.

Arcadia, the giant metal spider.
Arcadia – the giant metal spider where the absolutely bonkers Metamorphosis Show takes place.

I also felt that this year had a lot more TBA acts than usual, and when you have you no strict schedule to adhere to, you have nothing to lose. Stopping by the BBC Introducing Stage led to me hearing a quick set from Glass Animals and Blossoms – the latter dealing with a minor clash I had earlier that day.

At this point, I have to thank the @SecretGlasto account on Twitter for tipping us all off about who these TBA acts could be. It meant that I could watch The xx knowing that Elbow were playing The Park Stage and I wouldn’t miss much (sorry Elbow fans). However, what was far more exciting was their correct prediction for Sunday’s John Peel Stage performer – The Killers. All I need to say to prove how incredible their set was is this: imagine a large crowd of people singing Mr Brightside at the top of their lungs. That’s right, it was incredible.

The xx on the Pyramid Stage
The xx, with stunning visuals and a chilled sound for a Friday night.

Speaking of The xx and thank yous, I have to thank vlogger Grace Mandeville for recommending that – if you get the chance – you should see The xx live.

At first, I was a bit unsure about whether it would be my sort of music. Yet, with stunning visuals and a musical style which sounded like a mix between Of Monsters and Men and Porter Robinson, I was hooked. Thanks, Grace!

The whole weekend came to a close with Ed Sheeran’s headline slot on the Pyramid Stage on the Sunday night. In a bid to beat the traffic, we often leave before they finish their set. Plus, since the rest of my family weren’t too fussed about seeing Mr Sheeran, I was only able to listen to the first few songs.

That wasn’t a problem though, as I was interested in Ed’s set for a different reason. If you’ve read my review of his latest album, Divide, you’ll know that I’ve been quite sceptical of the Shape of You singer’s new material. This, combined with the fact that I found his 2014 V Festival performance fairly forgettable, repetitive and average, made me curious to see whether he would step up for the big spot at Glastonbury.

Long story short, with the soulful Castle on the Hill being the opening track and everyone getting their phone torches out for The A Team, there was something for the audience to do during the quieter song, whilst the more fast-paced songs kept everyone on their toes. With thousands of people huddled together on a field, one wonders if the intimate environment had a large part to play in that.

Now, one week on from the event, I still have a few songs and bands to look into. The XX’s entire song library is now in my Spotify, along with Lights Out by Royal Blood.

So, even when there are artists on the bill you may not have heard of, taking that risk at Glastonbury and trying something different is never a bad decision.

Artists/bands/speakers/panels watched: Biffy Clyro, Birdy, Blossoms, CassetteBoy vs. DJ Rubbish, Circa Waves, Clean Bandit, Craig David, Doc Brown, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé, Everything Everything, Faces of Disco, Fake News: Post-Truth Politics, Foo Fighters, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, Gabrielle Aplin, Glass Animals, Is Democracy Broken?, Jeremy Corbyn, Katy Perry, Kirsty Newton, Major Lazer, Rag’n’Bone Man, Royal Blood, Silver, The Amazons, The Jacksons, The Killers, The Magic Gang, The xx.

Musical Discovery: ‘Disconnect’ by Clean Bandit & Marina

For some people, seeing the name Marina next to Clean Bandit is a pleasant surprise. Not least because the single in question – Disconnect – first debuted two years ago at Coachella, but also because it was in 2015 that the Hollywood singer last released some music.

Now, she joins forces with Jack Patterson of the classical-pop trio to produce a song that’s finally graced our song libraries in full studio quality.

Almost following the template of Symphony (Clean Bandit’s collaboration with Zara Larsson), soft vocals and piano chords can be heard at the start of the song – the appearance of the latter instrument being no surprise given that Jack is the band’s pianist.

It a sound which is reminiscent of Rather Be, Extraordinary and Real Love. It builds on the success of Symphony to deliver another track which balances the classical and electronic aspects of the band’s style perfectly, complete with yet another soulful vocalist.

As mentioned previously, Marina’s last musical venture was two years ago. Since the release of her debut album, The Family Jewels, in 2010, the 31-year-old is yet to score a number one single (2012’s Primadonna being the closest at No. 11). Hot off the success of Rockabye and Symphony, a collaboration with Clean Bandit could be the song that takes her all the way to the top spot.