There was just enough time for The Killers to squeeze out one last single before the release of their sixth studio album, Wonderful Wonderful, this time next week, and it’s certainly a move away from the rockish grit heard on previous tracks such as The Man and Run for Cover. Now, with a little inspiration from English artist Brian Eno, Flowers and the rest of the band take a step back for a more reflective sound.
Like Madeon meets The xx, it’s a heavily atmospheric song throughout, complete with haunting synths, soft vocals from Flowers, light bass and a constrained drum beat. On top of this, with the frontman revealing to Rolling Stone that the song is about his wife, it brings a whole new sense of emotiveness to lines the outro: ‘Can’t do this alone/We need you at home/There’s so much to see/We know that you’re strong’.
When outside the realm of Wonderful Wonderful, one imagines that this would make for an interesting break from the traditional rock tracks which appear on the band’s tour setlist. As The Killers prepare for their UK tour in November, it’s without a doubt that Flowers and co. will bring out some tracks from the new release, and here’s hoping that Some Kind of Love gets a play.
After all, with a slow tempo and a moving message at its core, it would certainly make for a great ‘phones in the air’ track in between the rockier tracks from the new album and previous records. Whilst The Killers have always been known for their rough American rock, Some Kind of Love shows further adaptability from the band behind Mr Brightside, as well as supporting Flowers’ earlier comments to NME that Wonderful Wonderful will be a very personal release.
It was a one-off gig which surprised Killers fans and left them excited and nervous ever since the intimate Brixton performance was announced at short notice at the end of August. There was, naturally, the mad rush for tickets, the exclusivity of the show, and then the fear that Hurricane Irma might have stopped Brandon Flowers and co. in their tracks earlier on in the week. Nevertheless, the singer still graced the stage with enthusiasm and style last night, opening with a track full of bravado, The Man.
Although of course, before all of that, there was the obligatory support act in the form of Howling Bells’ Joel Stein, a.k.a. Glassmaps. With slow rhythms and whining vocals, it was a set which was dull, boring and forgettable in nature. Whilst it did make for calm, relaxing listening, having a quiet band open for a rocky group such as The Killers felt fairly out of place. Also, with 126 monthly Spotify listeners and 385 Twitter followers, Stein clearly has a long way to go before the crowds start to recognise his songs – but opening for the US hitmakers no doubt gave his solo project a reasonable boost.
Then came the main act. A member of the tech team walks on stage, unveiling a light-up Mars male symbol which makes a change from the lower-case ‘k’ which was used at Glastonbury and Hyde Park. Aside from the new set design having some relevance to The Man, one has to wonder whether it also ties into Flowers’ comments about the upcoming album Wonderful Wonderfulbeing a personal record. Combine all this with the fact that Brandon and drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. were the only two original members on stage (with guitarist Dave Keuning and bassist Mark Stoermer pulling out of touring), and it’s likely that all eyes are on Brandon Flowers at the moment.
As for the set itself, it was one full of all the well-known hits (with Somebody Told Me, Read My Mind, All These Things That I’ve Done, Human, Spaceman and of course, the huge Mr Brightside all getting played), along with a few new tracks as well, such as the fast-paced Run for Cover and an unheard track introduced by Divergent and Zombieland actor Woody Harrelson, The Calling.
Granted, there were a few tracks I couldn’t recognise, which made me feel a little bad as I rocked out in my new Killers t-shirt (it was clear that I had to do some extra listening once home). Yet, even so, that didn’t stop me dancing along as The Killers powered through songs at an incredibly fast pace.
Lastly, one has to consider the venue for such a performance – The O2 Academy in Brixton. With a historic twang to its interior and exterior architecture, it was certainly an eccentric place for an equally eccentric band to play. Add this to the fact that the main floor sloped towards the stage and felt both spacious and intimate, and you have a phenomenal atmosphere for The Killers to make use of. Joyous chants to Mr Brightside and Human felt extra special when you consider how small and cosy the venue felt. Chuck in a few unexpected crowd surfers and mini mosh pits and you have a quality show from one of the best bands on the global rock scene.
It was only a matter of time before the relaxed rock side of The Killers’ upcoming fifth album came to light. The title track, Wonderful Wonderful, was released last Friday and sees them move away from the fast pace of their previous single, Run For Cover. From funk, to driving rock and now something a little bit slower, the American band are still finding new ways to experiment with their style after more than 15 years in the game.
Bassist Mark Stoermer’s contribution to the track is clear from the outset. Much like the other two singles, a tense build-up occurs – this time complete with whining and scratching guitar, a rough rhythm and a tight bass riff. Throughout, the latter two instruments maintain the pace in a way which somewhat detracts from Flowers’ vocals, which, although distinctive, feel a tad mumbly and bland this time around. As a track, Wonderful Wonderful is on the same wavelength as Read My Mind – albeit when it becomes a bit more anthemic towards the end of the song.
Coincidentally, it’s the final verse which begins with the lyrics wonderful, wonderful where the song really packs a punch. With emphasised guitar chords and crash cymbals aplenty, it has the traditional grandiose flair to be expected of a Killers track. Yet, 3 minutes and 36 seconds in to a five-minute-long song, one has to ask if this is too little too late. On this occasion, its the instrumental aspects of the track which save it, even if the pace or tone of the vocals aren’t really your preferred rock style.
Wonderful, Wonderful is set to be released on September 22, 2o17.
It’s hardly an unusual occurrence in the music industry: a band, returning from a lengthy break with a desire to try out a new sound, release something different before backing it up with a single that sounds familiar. Yet, this is The Killers we’re talking about – the group behind Mr Brightside who are still full of versatility after more than 10 years on the music scene.
Run for Cover is the latest single from the hitmakers’ upcoming album, Wonderful Wonderful, and follows on from The Man – a track full of falsetto and machismo. This time, however, Flowers delivers gritty and harsh lyrics about toxicology, dirtbags and a difficult relationship with a brand of rock that’s reminiscent of a previous hit (Spaceman) and the Kaiser Chiefs. It’s no surprise either, after the lead singer revealed that “Run for Cover was written about nine years ago for Day & Age but it wasn’t completely written”.
Opening up the track with driving drum beats and intense guitar riffs, a sense of nostalgia is created for fans – and that’s even before Flowers begins the first verse with Ricky Wilson-esque vocals. Then comes the chorus, which sounds both familiar and distinctive at the same time, with the usual blend of anthemic lyrics, stand-out guitar melodies and pounding drums. Whilst The Man offers a more laid-back groove to sway to, there’s no denying that Run for Cover will have fans rocking out when the band go on tour later this year and in 2018.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bass-heavy alternative is sweeping the genre at the moment, whether it’s full-on funk or something a little bit more inventive, everyone seems to be jumping on the musical bandwagon. Now, with a song that sounds like the lovechild of Jamiroquai and Two Door Cinema Club, Mr Brightside singers The Killers return from a five-year absence with The Man.
Although far from an anthemic rock single, the fluid drum beats and groovy guitars apparent in Battle Born and Hot Fuss still linger underneath Brandon Flower’s falsetto vocals. The Man (taken from the band’s upcoming album, Wonderful Wonderful) debuted as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record on BBC Radio 1, and certainly hints at a record which strikes a balance between funky alternative and hard-hitting rock.
However similar it may sound compared to other alternative bands in the industry at the moment, we can all be thankful that The Killers are back after a lengthy absence.
It didn’t surprise me when I noticed that the alternative rock band Everywhere have worked with the American producer Mark Needham – who has worked with big groups such as The 1975, The Killers and Imagine Dragons. Now, as Everywhere release their new single, Some Other Dude, there’s wonderful similarities between them and Matt Healy’s band.
At the heart of the song is a pulsing bass guitar riff and a memorable chant-like chorus. Both of these elements combine to form a vibrant funk-pop anthem which really stands out in a heavily dominated alternative/pop scene.
There’s always something exciting about witnessing an up-and-coming band hitting the mainstream music scene. Already, Everywhere have supported The Kaiser Chiefs and appeared at the NME Awards in 2013. As with every Musical Discovery, finding a track you love is amazing, but finding a new band to listen to is even better.
Three years ago, they released their debut EP, American Grandeur, so you can expect some songs from that release making an appearance on the blog very soon. Alongside Some Other Dude, Shades at Night is another track I’ve been listening to lately, and would definitely recommend.
If you like this track, then you may be interested to know that you can download Some Other Dude for free by signing up to a newsletter here.
What do you think of Some Other Dude? Are you a fan of Everywhere? Comment below!