Category: Music

Kids In Glass Houses, a Welsh quintet, were an unknown, unsigned band, embarking on tours with already established acts such as Lostprophets and 30 Seconds To Mars. It wasn’t until late 2007 when they were finally signed to a record label and could put their demos to good use in the studio. They had already released an EP, E-Pocalypse!, before getting signed, and their debut album featured three of the songs from this EP. One single, which they released prior to the debut album, was Me, Me, Me, which was later re-released as Give Me What I Want, which made the cut on the album. After much anticipation, the album, Smart Casual, was released on May 26th 2008.

The first track on the album, Fisticuffs, is completely self-explanatory. Without sounding too cliché, the song starts the album with a “punch”. It’s a fast-paced, action song, filled with angst and attitude. Easy Tiger follows up, and was released as a single. Understandably so, as it’s a real catchy song, with a “do-do-do” chorus that will imprint in your memory. Previously titled ‘Me, Me, Me‘, Give Me What I Want comes along third on the album. The song’s lead guitar riff is awesome, showcasing the talent that the Welsh five-piece have to offer, with Aled Phillips vocal brilliance adding to the quality. Saturday brings the pace down a little, Phillips sounds like a crooner at the beginning of the song, whether intentional or not, it works. This song is a highlight. Next up, from highlight to possible lowlight, Lovely Bones doesn’t quite do it for me. Its lyrics are fine, the melodies, for me, are a little unimpressive, and the guitar riffs feel a little familiar to me, whether that’s because of similar bands out there or not, I’m not certain. Shameless brings the quality of the album up slightly. It’s an improvement from the previous song, the vocals are more imaginative and better to sing along to, if that’s what you want. Onto probably one of my favourite songs, Girls has a real character to it. The chorus includes a nice falsetto from Phillips and the lyrics are dark and twisty at parts, in a good way. “You put the fun back into the funeral”, for example, suggests the imagination into Kids In Glass Houses lyrical range. Onto a song that almost didn’t make the album, Good Boys Gone Rad. It would have been a real shame if this hadn’t made Smart Casual, as the first words in each verse have a great long note to introduce you to each part of the song. Dance All Night slows down the tempo slightly, with, what’s become almost a signature sound, Phillips’ falsetto range graces our presence once again. The song has a chilled-out feel to it. Pillow Talk, as the song may connote, also has a chilled out feel to it. It’s definitely a song to listen to when you’re in a good mood, possibly making you want to sway a little bit! Now my other favourite song appears late in the album, Raise Hell, which was, I think, the very first song I ever heard by these guys. And, although it’s been re-mixed for the album since it was on their EP, it makes the song even better. It’s definitely a huge sing-along anthem for a live show. With long, soaring notes throughout, it is definitely a crowd pleaser. Finally, Church Tongue rounds off the album, with backing “na-na’s” welcoming you into the song, the song ends the album in style, demonstrating that the guys want to finish how they started, with a bold impression.

Smart Casual started off strong, picked up the pace until around the middle of the album, where it lacked the “oomph” that it had in the beginning. Luckily, the album didn’t peak at the beginning, saving their best, not only for the beginning, but for last too. This is a strong debut from the Welsh boys, earning a respectable 7.5/10 from me.


General Fiasco – Buildings

Personally, I had never heard of General Fiasco until about 6 months ago, but they’ve been together since 2007 and touring shortly after. After coming across one of their singles by chance, on none other than MTV2, I was intrigued by their sound and made a mental note of their name and song in my head. Thinking it was just a one-off song, and that would be the end of their existence in my head, the Northern Irish trio appeared back on MTV2 with another single. Then, researching the band, I find out they have an album coming out in the next couple of weeks, and anticipation kicks in. Releasing Buildings on March 22nd 2010, General Fiasco are well on their way to having a successful year, supporting Snow Patrol on their homecoming tour. Now we’re up to date, is Buildings up to scratch?

Fortunately, in my opinion, yes. We Are The Foolish kicks off the album, the song I first heard by them. This song is perfect for beginning their album, starting it off with a bang. The lead singer, Owen Strathern, has an interesting voice which really sticks in your head. Mix that with group cheers, epic guitar riffs and a killer melody, and you’ve got a killer song. Continuing from strength to strength, their second single I heard Ever So Shy begins with “Let’s get wasted, it’s all we ever do”. I love the guitar in the background of the verses. And when the chorus kicks in, you will have extreme trouble in trying to get it out of your head. This is a perfect song if you need something to kick up the volume and travel to. Please Take Your Time is the third song, and on the contraire to the title, it doesn’t take any time in kicking in. The real highlight is the chorus, where it really takes off. Both singing, back-up vocals and guitar/drums work perfectly together to create something great. Added points for a guitar solo also! Taking down the tempo from the explosive start, Buildings, the title track, shows their versatility. The chorus is atmospheric and strong, with the verses providing a perfect build up to it. I love when Strathern uses his upper register on the final lines “no-one will feel like you do”. I’m Not Made Of Eyes brings the tempo back, but I feel only begins as a song when the chorus begins. Yes, the beginning verses are good, but the mini bridge before the chorus, which feels like you’re being whispered to – although no whispering takes place – doesn’t quite work for me. The next track is probably my favourite from the album. Sinking Ships starts off on the acoustic guitar, having a really catchy chorus which will have you humming the melody. But the real surprise that’s in store, is the use of strings instruments. I loved the addition of the strings. I never expected violins or the real orchestral feel you get from this song. I think it was pure genius. And Owen also demonstrates his full vocal range, going from his lower register, through his upper register, to his falsetto range. Originally their very first single back in 2008, Rebel Get By has the tough act to follow the previous song. Although it doesn’t measure up to it, not that I thought a song would, the verses are upbeat leading into a slower chorus. Unfortunately I’m not quite enjoying the chorus as much as the verses, but that just shows the quality of their verses throughout this song. Talk To My Friends has me undecided in my opinions of the song. I do really enjoy the “this should be easy on you” bridges, and the chorus after, and I do enjoy how Strathern’s voice sounds throughout the verses. But I feel the “talk to my friends” part is anti-climatic and rather adds a deflated feeling to the song. Sort of like climbing up a mountain, reaching the top, but falling off straight away. Maybe not the best metaphor in the world, but I hope you understand what I mean. Thankfully, the next song restores hope back into the album, not that all hope was lost at all. Dancing With Girls has a perfect arrangement, showcasing the way they SHOULD have done it in previous songs. When the chorus gets into Owen’s upper, screech range, that is when the real magic happens. First Impressions has one of those choruses that I love. Loud, not in a bad way, and melodic. And towards the end of the song is the real gem. A simple melody repeated over and over which will, no doubt, be a crowd pleaser during live shows. And it’s just such a pleasure to the ears, not one of those failing attempts at a repetitive melody. Moving onto the two bonus tracks you get when purchasing from iTunes, Start At The Top, which, in my opinion, should not have been a bonus track. The chorus is a killer “..and I know, I know, we all get a little scared sometimes..” following into a falsetto “woo” which is pure magic. Finally, a previous single released towards the beginning of 2009, and charting on the UK Indie chart at #2, Something Sometime. And rightly so. It also shouldn’t have been an extra track for specific iTunes users. The whole song keeps me hooked in from start to finish. “Take a little more, take a little more” throughout the chorus will definitely be a lyric you won’t help sing along to during the song.

Hearing this band by chance was a touch of luck that I’m thankful for. If it wasn’t for flicking through music channels, I wouldn’t have heard this band, nor purchased the album. So far, it’s definitely one of my favourites of the year so far. Only 3 months in, and hearing a limited amount of albums doesn’t say much for the album, but I’m sure by the end of the year, it’ll be up there, not necessarily as the best album of 2010, but it should be one of my top 10! General Fiasco, I think, are going to have a big year. 9/10

Allison Iraheta – Just Like You

In May 2008, America crowned their 8th winner of American Idol, Kris Allen. Allison Iraheta, on the other hand, was eliminated in a respectable fourth place, albeit deserving at least a spot in the final. The irony of the “rock princess” being eliminated in Rock Week was a little too much to bear, especially as Danny Gokey’s performance of Dream On by Aerosmith, appropriately nicknamed “Scream On”, was so poor, that he should have been eliminated on the spot right there and then. But, alas, it was never meant to be and fourth place was where Allison finished. Fast forward 7 months and Iraheta’s debut album is released, with 11 different producers for her 13 tracks, you would automatically assume that a 17-year-old wouldn’t be capable of making an album with any depth whatsoever.

Starting with a riff, into an “Oh yeah!” Friday I’ll Be Over U begins the album, also chosen as the lead single. Although I completely understand why this song was chosen as the first single, with its radio-friendly vibe and pop/rock-slash-dance-beat infusions and a sing-along chant of “Friday I’ll be over you”, it’s a different kind of Allison that we heard on Idol. I must admit when I first heard this song, I wasn’t overly impressed as it sounded like it could be just “another one of those songs”. The ones that don’t stand out at all. I did know, however, that I would grow to love it, as Allison’s voice can overshadow the genre of the song as a whole. Robot Love, being the second track in, gives you that rock sound that Iraheta brought on Idol, albeit having a pop feel to it. The song is perfect for a seventeen-year-old girl, singing about technology stealing her boyfriend. The verses, the bridge, the chorus, everything about this song is brilliant. The guitars moulding in so well with Allison’s “Ooh, give me my, give me my baby back” just showcase the whole reason why she reached the top 4 on American Idol. Now, for one of the stand-out tracks on the album, Just Like You. Immediately sounding like a hit for the radio to me. A slower tempo this time, bringing out the softness and the harsh tones in her voice with make for a perfect ballad. Next, Don’t Waste The Pretty, a decent song, but not one that stands out in your memory when looking back over the album. The second single, Scars, follows, bringing a tender ballad to the album, which is welcomed with open arms. This song is also one of the best on the album, no question about it. And although I’m not sure if it makes the perfect single choice, as something from a teenager needs an upbeat feel to it, the song really showcases her full range of capability. Pieces has the job of living up to the previous song, of course it doesn’t quite do that, as Scars is one of the best songs on the album. Having said that, this song is a solid addition to the album. Now when I first heard D Is For Dangerous, I wasn’t really sure of the song. By that, I mean I didn’t really remember it. It didn’t make an impression on me. But as you give the album a few more plays, the genius of the song is apparent. After all, she is seventeen. Listing various things about a relationship in alphabetical order actually really works during the song. Holiday, originally recorded by a woman called Dilana, who finished runner-up on an American reality show called Rock Star: Supernova. Allison’s rock roots come out in this song, raspy moments in her vocals, mixed with her upper range. Just perfect for this song. Still Breathing is next, and a track also well-suited for radio, in my opinion. Pop/Rock is what Allison does best, and this is exactly that. The chorus here is simple, but brilliant. One of Iraheta’s best vocals on the album, I think. Bringing the album down to a slow tempo again, Trouble Is has a wonderful piano ballad feel to its verses, before breaking out into a drum/guitar second half, producing a powerful ending to the song. Next, a song written by none-other than P!nk and Idol judge Kara DioGuardi, No One Else has all the potential to be a stand-out on the album. And even though I feel Allison’s vocals are amazing throughout,  the chorus’ second half doesn’t quite match the first – meaning the ‘Simply no one else’ part. Beat Me Up brings the album back up with a bang. With a backing riff that will definitely make you want to move, and repetitive lyrical verses, everything about this song just has a huge tick all over it. One of my favourites from the album. But last – and by no means least – You Don’t Know Me, the only song that was co-written by Iraheta. And it’s probably my favourite from the album. It belongs on the radio, it belongs on your iPod. It just belongs. This song is a real gem. A perfect way to finish the album. Its verses are kind of low-key, leading onto a soaring belter of a chorus. This kind of song is what Iraheta is best at. Stretching her vocals to the limit, but in a way that sounds effortless.

Regardless of its commercial success in America, or lack of it as the case may be, this is definitely an album Allison Iraheta should be proud of. Only finishing 4th on American Idol and still making it into the Billboard 200 albums at #35 is a real achievement. I’m interested to see what Allison will be doing for her second album, because I have no doubt there will be a second record. And I’m excited about what she’ll bring to the table. 9/10

American Idol Top 12

Three weeks ago, the judges on American Idol decided who they wanted in the semi final of the competition – the top 24. After each week, two boys and two girls get cut from the competition and the public vote is the only factor in deciding this. Usually, I feel that the public get it right, or almost so, but as the results show for the final semi final episode is over, I am left with a bitter taste in my mouth, aimed towards the American public voters.

Now, I’m not narrow-minded or completely clueless about music. I enjoy almost everything and appreciate each genre respectively, so I don’t think I’m biased towards a particular sounding voice, or based on gender/race. But as I sat down to watch the final performances of the girls, shown on Tuesday nights in America, two particular performances stand out, and not necessarily for the good. Paige Miles, a 24-year-old from Florida, picked her final song of the semi finals and she chose “Smile” by Nat King Cole. In the two previous weeks, Paige had struggled to find a song that suited her as an artist, so this one was a bizarre choice also. Nevertheless, I gave her the benefit of the doubt and hoped she’d do something amazing with it. Unfortunately, she did not. Not even close to good, in my opinion. Katie Stevens, a 17-year-old from Connecticut, chose a Kelly Clarkson hit ‘Breakaway‘. She had been called old-fashioned and needed to sing something “younger” so this seemed fairly logical. Now, I’m all for a Kelly Clarkson song being sung, being the huge fan I am, but it was just ‘okay’. There was nothing special, and it was just going to be compared as a poor version of the original.

In the results show, the presenter, Ryan Seacrest, had put through two contestants from the top row of seats – 4 in total on each row – leaving Paige and Katelyn Epperly, a 19-year-old from Iowa. From the beginning of the live shows, Katelyn had been my favourite girl, along with another girl I’ll speak about a bit later, and even though Katelyn’s performance was okay, it wasn’t her best. It was rather forgettable and the song she chose wasn’t the one to propel her into the top 12. But the previous weeks, one including a beautiful rendition of Coldplay’s The Scientist on piano, she had shined and I felt she was more than on her way to making the themed shows. After recapping the performances, Paige Miles was sent through, sending Katelyn home. I was positive Paige was going home, and I was shocked and disgusted that the American public had dismissed the very talented Epperly. Maybe my other favourite girl would get through?

Again, Seacrest put through two girls on the bottom row, leaving the final two as Katie Stevens and Lilly Scott, a 20-year-old from Colorado. In the past two weeks, Lilly had been at the top of the pack, shining with her unique voice, and her style which she wouldn’t change for the show. She was an indie artist, as pointed out by judge Randy Jackson, and she made every performance on the show her style. She chose a Patsy Cline song to close the show, and, although she didn’t really do a whole lot with it, she still sang the song well, albeit maybe lacking a bit of energy. Lilly Scott, being my joint favourite girl, was my last favourite left. But in a de-ja-vu moment, Stevens was put through, much to the shock of many people in the studio, and fellow rejectee Katelyn Epperly, whose face showed the shock and disapproval of the decision. Scott was clearly disappointed, and surprised by the turn of events, as I’m sure she felt she did enough to make it through.

For the boys results, I picked two favourites also, just so I had plenty of choices in the top 24. Alex Lambert, no connection with the previous years runner-up, and Aaron Kelly. Lambert, a 19 year old from Texas, had a unique voice that was definitely destined to be a recording voice. All he was lacking was confidence, the rest of the tools were there. Aaron Kelly, a 16-year-old from Pennsylvania, had a voice made for country/pop. There is just something special about his voice that I can’t quite put my finger on. Luckily, Kelly made it through to the top 12, but that left Lambert and a previous YouTube singer Andrew Garcia. When Lambert was paired with Garcia, who sang Genie In A Bottle by Christina Aguilera, I just knew that the YouTube singer’s fans would be helping him through. And shockingly enough, Garcia made it through, and Lambert was sent home, extremely unfairly. He had so much potential, and I don’t remember any semi-finalists making a successful career out of music. Or even making an album. Which is extremely disappointing for him because he deserves it.

Another two boys were put through, completing a top 11, only one spot was left. Lee Dewyze and Todrick Hall were in the final two. Both performances were, I feel, the best ones. Lee’s version of Fireflies was edgy and well performed, and Todrick’s performance of Somebody To Love by Queen was amazing. His gospel/R&B feel worked brilliantly, and his vocals were great. Neither of them should be considered to be booted from the competition, whereas a forgettable performance from Casey James was rewarded with a place in the top 12. If I had to decide which performance I preferred, I’d have to say Todrick’s as his vocals were the best they’ve been in the live shows. The results were revealed, and Todrick was sent home.

America’s top 12 is:

  • Didi Benami – a 23-year-old from California (6)
  • Crystal Bowersox – a 24-year-old from Ohio (2)
  • Lacey Brown – a 24-year-old from Texas (11)
  • Lee Dewyze – a 23-year-old from Illinois (10)
  • Andrew Garcia – a 24-year-old from California (12)
  • Casey James – a 27-year-old from Texas (5)
  • Aaron Kelly – a 16-year-old from Pennsylvania (7)
  • Michael Lynche – a 26-year-old from Florida (4)
  • Siobhan Magnus – a 19-year-old from Massachusetts (3)
  • Paige Miles – a 24-year-old from Florida (8)
  • Katie Stevens – a 17-year-old from Connecticut (9)
  • Tim Urban – a 20-year-old from Texas (1)

Now I have to decide who my favourites are from the remaining 12. I feel Michael Lynche is a front-runner, his performance brought judge Kara DioGuardi to tears, I need another week or two to decide whether I agree with the front-runner status. Aaron Kelly is my only remaining favourite, and I think I shall add Lee Dewyze as my second boy.

Quirky Siobhan Henry has really caught my eye in the past week or two, and Didi Benami whose performance was brilliant will be my favourites from now on. I shall keep my eye on Lacey Brown, even though I don’t feel she can win, her voice appeals to my ears. Crystal Bowersox has a weird attitude, I don’t think she wants to be in the competition, she’s just doing it so she can get money for her family.

If, in the next few weeks, my choices for American Idol get knocked out, maybe I should keep my opinions to myself. Do I think my choices jinx the competition? Maybe. We’ll find out next week. If one my choices go out again, I’ll think about favouring Casey James.

Never before in my experience have I, and what feels like any pop culture enthusiast, felt such anticipation for a music video. If you decide to bookmark it in that genre of the media, that is. Because Lady GaGa’s nine minute masterpiece feels more like a short film, as opposed to just your typical everyday music video. With the unlikely pairing of GaGa, real name Stefani Germanotta, and Beyoncé, arguably the two biggest stars of 2009, you can’t not feel that the pairing would create something special. Having already taken part in a remix of Beyoncé’s single Video Phone, Lady GaGa’s song Telephone gets the star treatment and more than outshines the rather unimaginative video for Beyoncé’s form of communication device.

Continuing on from her Paparazzi video, where she was jailed for poisoning and killing her boyfriend, GaGa is dragged towards her jail cell by two interesting looking officers. What I love about Lady GaGa is summed up as she is stripped of her garments and left by the guards, with one of them saying “I told you she didn’t have a dick”. Having had huge speculation about her gender, GaGa pokes fun at herself and the rumour which sums her character up to a tee. The other guard replies with “Too bad” before leaving her naked in her jail cell.

Now this video probably isn’t suitable for children, with swearing, fighting and a bit of nudity featuring throughout the duration of the video, along with a lesbian kiss between GaGa herself and a rather butch looking inmate.

With a massive 9 different outfits, Lady GaGa more than lives up to her eccentric persona, making the bizarre outfits work, like only Lady GaGa can. Ranging from a bondage-esque chain outfit with a pair of sunglasses made out of smoking cigarettes, the studded jacket/underwear combo pictured above, police tape covering very little of her body and a cat suit.

From watching the video, I feel that there will be difficulties cutting it down for television, because of the detail and the suitability for younger viewers. Although the dialogue breaking up the vocals adds to the time, it really brings the motion picture feel to the video, and I feel that if the dialogue is taken away from the music channel cut, the video wouldn’t really make sense as a whole, it would just look out-of-place. At first when watching it, although I was in awe at what I had just seen, I was confused to the meaning of the video. Why would the setting of a jail have anything to do with the lyrics?

How did singing “Not that I don’t like you, I’m just at a party.” fit in with the jail theme, if you were on the phone in your cell? In my opinion, after watching the video a few more times and thinking about the lyrics, I feel that the meaning of the song is much deeper than what it first appears as. Rather than just a song about a club and ignoring a love interest because they cannot be bothered with them, what if it is a little darker. What if it’s about hiding a secret? Masking it with singing about a club and giving the wrong impression, but instead she is in jail and doesn’t want to let anyone know? Behind the theatrics and costume, it could just be about keeping certain things to yourself, but leading others to believe differently.

However you perceive the video, you can’t deny its unique appeal. Going from poisoning her boyfriend by herself to joining forces with Beyoncé and plotting mass murder, also from poisoning, before dancing amongst the corpses and fleeing the scene, GaGa does a pretty good job of getting away from trouble, or does she? The helicopter

shadow following their Pussy Wagon, the car from the Kill Bill movies by Quentin Tarantino, suggests that they might not be home and dry after all.

I feel that with Beyoncé’s previous roles in films, she outshines GaGa in the dialogue scenes. Knowles looks more relaxed in front of the camera, although I don’t know if GaGa’s character is supposed to be not quite so calm. Again, maybe perception plays a part here. What I do know, is that “Honey Bee” and GaGa are a perfect match in this video. And who would have thought the two could have worked so well together? It seems like we won’t have to wait long before seeing these two on-screen again.

That we do know, as the dreaded words “To Be Continued….” are shown on the screen, meaning we’ll have to wait to find out what happens next. You just can’t fault this video. It’s a work of pure genius that definitely deserves the recognition it will get in the next few weeks. The video is below, I’ve said enough. Just sit back and enjoy the video that will more than likely go down in history.

The Saturdays – Wordshaker

After a very promising second half of 2008, and first half of 2009, The Saturdays looked as if they’d pushed their way into the two-horse-race world of girl bands, with only Girls Aloud and Sugababes having a strangle-hold onto the charts these days. But the key to holding their place in the industry lies in their follow-up album. Chasing Lights just scraped in the top ten, at #9, so Wordshaker was looking to set up and get them a top 5 album, at least. This album was released on October 12th 2009, just 4 months after their final single from Chasing Lights, this has its pro’s and con’s. Completing the album 4 months after the promotion of their last single leaves them in the minds of the public, but usually that means their songs are being written for them, so they don’t add their personal tweaks to it. I prefer it when artists write their own music, but I must admit I was looking forward to the new album nonetheless.

Forever Is Over was chosen as the first single, much better than Chasing Lights‘ first single. With a quiet first verse leading into an explosive chorus, you remember just why they’ve taken the UK by storm. It reached #2 in the charts, becoming their joint highest release so far. Vanessa White, the groups main vocalist, truly knows how to stand out, and we are treated to a bridge solo from Una Healy, which is a welcome change also.

Here Standing welcomes you with a piano intro the girls sing over the top of it, bringing a classy ballad early on into the album. The chorus builds up the song from its softer intro, before bringing down the tempo and volume back to the piano verse. The change in dynamics works really well, into another killer bridge where White bellows effortlessly.

Ego, chosen as the second single, is another electro-pop masterpiece. It just sounds like it belongs on the radio. It’s also clearly a ladies anthem, telling the men to ‘have a sit down with their ego’. It peaked at #9 in the charts, becoming their sixth top ten single.

No One slows down the pace again. For me, the verses are a weak link in the album. If it wasn’t for the chorus or the bridge, I’d dislike the song. It just about saves the song for me, making it just an ‘okay’ song in my book.

One Shot more than makes up for the last song. A real highlight on the album. This song seems like a logical release in the future, with all the makings to become a success if marketed correctly. The verses are in your face, with the chorus coming to life to bring you a winning track. With the repetition of ‘One Shot’ at the end of the chorus, you will have this stuck in your head.

Wordshaker, the title track to the album, continues to brilliance of the album. This and One Shot are pure electro-pop perfection. With a dirty baseline and an intro of ‘Baby, I got you on my answering machine on replay’ you know it’s another ladies song. They really know how to make girl power at it’s finest.

Denial is a soft, vulnerable ballad, bringing the tempo down from its firey predecessors. Usually the weak point of many pop albums, as the audience wants upbeat songs, this really is a delight on the album. You know that The Saturdays aren’t just one-trick ponies.

Open Up follows and is one of the better on this album. Clearly there are many highs on this album, but its the chorus that really shines here, as big choruses seem to be their strength. As peculiar as it sounds, the backing music for this song is my favourite of all the songs. I’m not sure what it is that I really enjoy about it, it just has ‘IT’, although I’m not sure what ‘IT’ is.

Lose Control brings you another baseline that lets you know it’s going to be one of THOSE songs that they do best. My absolute favourite part of the song is the ‘Never before I met you baby, never before tonight’. The wording of the lines is just genius. It’s a real belter of a song.

Not Good Enough, for me, starts off poorly. I don’t appreciate the ‘Not good enough, just not good enough for me’ beginning. I just feel it sounds too screechy. The rest of the song is pure magic, though. The repeat of the beginning line sounds much better with the music. It might just be that doesn’t prefer the acapella singing of it.

Deeper is the only song that the girls wrote on the album, with a little help from their main writer, Ina Wroldsen. The song is a decent ballad, but it sounds like a typical girl band song. There isn’t really a stand-out moment in there, which is a shame. I would be shocked if they wrote the majority of their songs on the next album. I do, however, thoroughly enjoy the backing singing of the long ‘Deep’ in the chorus.

2 a.m brings the album to a close, finishing with the electro beats we’re all too familiar with. ‘There’s a tug of way and I keep losing’ is my favourite part of the song. Unfortunately, the chorus that follows isn’t up to standard. It lacks the energy that the backing music should have.

Wordshaker is a brilliant follow album, with moments of magic and brilliance. With a few faults, although tiny ones at that, the album made it to an equal #9 in the album charts. I can’t actually figure out which album I prefer. That’s why I’ll give this 8/10 also. Definitely an album to purchase.

Let’s rewind a year and 4 months to December 6th 2008, where former front-runner of the competition Diana Vickers was voted out of the UK singing competition The X Factor. Bookies and producers of the show alike were shocked when it was revealed that Vickers had received the least amount of votes, and would not participate in the final of the show. With a unique sound like hers, it wasn’t surprising she was signed up – after turning down a place on Simon Cowell’s personal record label Syco – to RCA Records. There, she would be alongside the likes of Avril Lavigne, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson and Natasha Bedingfield. Artists, not necessarily, she wanted to be, but the success they’ve had is undeniable.

Vickers put her music career on hold to star in the West End, in London, landing the main role in Jim Cartwright’s The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, playing Little Voice. Little Voice is a shy girl who, as part of her grieving process for her father, locks herself in her room listening to old records, and impersonating ‘Divas’ such as Shirley Bassey, Judy Garland, Dusty Springfield and Marilyn Monroe.

The plays stint in the West End is over, and Vickers has been concentrating on her debut album, titled ‘Songs From The Tainted Cherry Tree‘. Her single premiered on Radio 1 in January, and the video was released just 6 days ago on March 11th. If you haven’t seen it yet, shame on you. The song is light, breezy, everything that made us fall in love with Vickers, but she’s not all sugar-coated sweetness. She’s got some fire, and her voice is perfect for recording. One of the singles of the year so far.

Vickers is back, Alexandra Burke and JLS shouldn’t get too comfy.

Paramore: Wembley Arena 18/12/09

Now if you know me well, you’ll know that I am an avid lover of snow. I wish on every occasion that it would fall, and to settle with several feet of it everywhere. Being in England, that is not likely to happen, especially in the South. But to get snow on Friday 18th December, I was not pleased. It should have arrived a week later in time for Christmas. I checked the train schedule and found that the 4 trains from Midday til 2pm were actually cancelled going to London Waterloo due to the snow. Travelling by train was the only means of getting there so this is where silent panic settled in. We decided to leave it til later, hoping that trains would run again. Thankfully they did, and we took the 4:31pm train to Waterloo. We arrived just over an hour later and after a wrong choice of entrance and a broken lift, we got on the Tube and packed against the walls ready for the half hour journey.

We got out of the station and passed the loud ticket touts chanting “TICKETS FOR PARAMORE, BUY OR SELL!” and slid all the way to the venue, Wembley Arena, which was literally about 2 minutes away from the station. After buying merchandise and a massive queue for the toilets, we sat down at 7pm in our seats, ready for the first band to play at 7:15pm. Nicely timed, if I do say so myself! Now, Now Every Children were up first, and I wasn’t too fussed in all honesty. I listened to all the bands before the gig, and wasn’t impressed with the first two bands. NNEC, however, were a pleasant surprise live. They were much better than what I’d heard previously and I really enjoyed their set. The crowd weren’t so enthusiastic though, and it was evident that most people were only there to see You Me At Six and, obviously, Paramore.

Although NNEC were pretty good live, the inevitable comparison to Paramore would come about, and I’m torn whether to  jump on that band wagon right now. There were differences, albeit slight ones, between them. But female vocalists in a rock band don’t escape the comparison. Whatever your decision, Now, Now Every Children have a long way to go if they want to even come close to the success of Paramore. Paper Route were the second support band of the night, and again they started off pretty good. The first couple of songs were really good and I was on my way to being converted to them. Unfortunately after those first couple of songs, I was a little bored with them, everything started to sound too similar. The crowd were barely enthusiastic, just about getting moving, but no one was standing up in the seated area.

But the band weren’t too phased, saying that they’ve saved the best song for last, playing it, then going on to play one last song. Tragically I cannot remember the first song’s name, which is actually a shame because it was my favourite. ‘Carousel’ was the other track that stood out. They started out bright, but faded into boredom as it went on. Most people were too fussed on the arrival of You Me At Six. The next quarter of an hour was the longest of them all, anticipating the set of one of my favourite up-and-coming English rock bands. The backdrop came down, and everybody screamed. Then nothing happened again for another 5 minutes. Then the lights went out and everybody screamed again. It was official now, You Me At Six had arrived. And it couldn’t have been more welcomed.

Screams continued to echo around the venue as the lead singer, Josh Franceschi, said Hello to his adoring fans. As soon as the stage was set, and the first song, “Kiss And Tell”, started, we were on our feet, as were many people in the seated areas. The concert really kicked off and everyone was moving. You didn’t need to be in standing to realise how much the crowd were moving. Many people were being pushed about down there. Aside from the slight violent feel in standing, everything was great. “Jealous Minds Think Alike” began, and I’m going to say it for all of these songs so I don’t have to repeat myself. Each time a song started, the crowd would scream like mad. They went on to play “If I Were In Your Shoes”, “Save It For The Bedroom” (one of my favourite songs) and “The Consequence” (A new single from their upcoming album).

The next, and penultimate song, was the highlight of their set in my opinion. “Always Attract”, on their album, is a highlight for me anyway, so bringing it to their live set couldn’t really go wrong for me. Inviting his sister, who was the mystery singer to the song on Take Off Your Colours,  on stage to sing her vocals was a touch of brilliance, added with Franceschi asking us to “Take out your phone lights and sway” made the atmosphere something else. Looking around the arena and seeing all the different colours moving backwards and forwards everywhere was special. Closing their set with “Finders Keepers”, You Me At Six would have been leaving the stage with huge grins all over their faces. I’m sure they’ve converted fans from this concert, if they didn’t already have them on their side in the first place.

And then they arrive. It was time for Paramore. Another lengthy wait before they finally arrived on stage, with the chanting of “Paramore” and various attempts at getting a Mexican wave started around the venue (which, may I add, was eventually successful). The lights go down, and bellowing screams (from myself, may I shamefully admit) were all that could be heard as we were all about to witness the greatest show Paramore had ever given. They played their “Brand New Eyes Intro” that they have played at the start of every show since their latest album came out. It really stepped up a notch two minutes later when they started the intro to “Ignorance”. With the crowd chanting in time with the “HEY” after the lyric ‘We’re not the same’ in the chorus, you know you’re in for a good night of crowd involvement.

Twilight fans (don’t get me started on Twilight) were in for a treat, as “I Caught Myself” began. I’ve never really been fond of this song so I wasn’t positive on the words. It didn’t matter as the chorus was easy to pick up on. Playing classics and new songs “That’s What You Get”, “Looking Up”, “Crushcrushcrush” with the crowd seductively whispering crush back at Hayley and the band, and “Turn It Off”, we came across something quite unusual. Hayley produced a letter and said they wanted to invite someone to the stage. Glares and comments passed everyone’s lips at the person or persons who got to go on stage. A minute later and all those glares were exchanged with tears, open mouths and gasps as Liam May asks his girlfriend Leona to marry him. A huge intake of breath and gasps around the arena should really have sucked in all of the people on stage.

This led onto the song “The Only Exception”, a love song fitting for the occasion. If I had more oestrogen in my system, I probably would have cried. But I did not, many people did though. It was definitely a significant moment in the set. One of many. They then went into a classic from their very first album, “Pressure”. Jeremy, the bassist, managed to flip on stage, which was something impressive. “Careful” and “Where The Lines Overlap” followed next, two songs from their latest album, both going down so well. Twilight fans got their chance to squeal again as the “Decode” riff started. So many girly screams filled the arena that only dogs could hear them at one point. I do like ‘Decode’, I really do. I just hate twilight. It’s good press for Paramore and all, but Paramore (as I’ve mentioned before) DO NOT = Twilight.

Then came the moment that beats all moments. The best ever part of any Paramore, or any, concert I have ever been to. They played the song “My Heart” from their very first CD. No other date did they play this. It was just for us. Josh Farro, the lead guitarist, did the screams during the song, and if you were near me, you would have heard me squeal “OH MY GOD” like a little girl. During the song, Hayley said that “This is the best moment of my life” and everyone believed her. We all could have screamed back those same words right at her at that moment. It was one that I’ll never forget. Ever. We then joined in with her singing “Whoa”. Just a simple melodic phrase that we sang in unison. Everyone felt the atmosphere in the arena. You don’t understand how intense it was if you weren’t present. They then went crazy with an instrumental afterwards.

It was incredible. Words can’t describe how I was feeling after that song. They then went offstage, to come back on and give us a three-song encore. On a chair, acoustic guitars in hand, “Misguided Ghosts was played. We were instructed to take out our “Cell Phone lighters” and without question we all did. No one would disobey Hayley Williams after what just happened. It was followed by “Misery Business” which was incredibly well received. Finally, the latest single “Brick By Boring Brick” where confetti poured out of the top of the arena onto the crowd. All the bands came on and bowed and we were all in awe at what had just happened. With the crowd singing along to the “Ba Da Ba’s” at the end of the chorus, there was nothing bad in the night whatsoever. It was just amazing.

I shall not bore you with the details of getting back, as they were far from interesting compared to the concert itself (even though I spoke about getting there in the first place). I have no doubt that this was the best gig I’ve ever been to in my life. It’s definitely getting 10/10 in my book. I would give it 100 if I could. But there is no such thing as 100/10.

Finally, I would like to say that all the pictures in this post were of Kimberley Collins’ taking. Please go and check out her photos here.

Fall Out Boy – Folie à deux

With their success and fan base growing with every year, Fall Out Boy’s fifth studio album was being eagerly awaited by hundreds of thousands across the globe. You never know what sound they’ll come out with, as they’ve matured and improved over the years and with the follow up success of Infinity On High, i’m sure the boys were feeling confident of their abilities in the mainstream. The album was released on December 14th here, and I was eager to see what I’d think of the album. My first impressions, I’m not going to lie, were a little disappointed. I think that’s only because I had loved the previous albums so much, that this felt like a step back. As you listen to it more, you appreciate it’s maturity and charm.

Disloyal Order Of Water Buffaloes is first and straight away you can notice the difference in albums. It’s a different kind of rock, more actual rock than alternative. The lyrics are also genius, as usual.

I Don’t Care was the first single and peaked in the charts at #33. Rather unimpressive in comparison to previous songs, it just shows you how the industry has changed in the last year or so. The song has different styles throughout and it’s definitely a better choice for a first single than on the previous album.

She’s My Winona is the next song and was the fifth and final single from the album. The “oh”s at the beginning are really energetic and the harmonies in the chorus work really well.

America’s Suitehearts follows and is one of my favourites off the album. As the fourth single, it had a lot to live up to, as the singles previously haven’t taken off so well. Unfortunately, nor did this at it charted at a  low #76. The song itself isn’t the usual anthem we’re used to from a Fall Out Boy hit, but it definitely sticks in your head, and that’s what is important.

Headfirst Slide Into Coopestown On A Bad Bet is next, and is the only real long, stupid name. This song never really grabs your attention as much, I like the way it changes in dynamics, but that’s about it that I feel is worth mentioning. It was released as the second single.

The (Shipped) Gold Standard follows and is definitely one of the better songs on the album. Stump brings in his falsetto during the chorus which is always a joy to listen to. The bridge mixes up the tempo and style of the song, and I really love how they’ve done that.

(Coffee’s For Closers) is next and has a great drum and strings intro. The song doesn’t really get started until the chorus, where it explodes into life and reminds you of the “old” Fall Out Boy-type choruses that we used to know and love.

What A Catch, Donnie follows and is a great song. Towards the end as Stump sings the chorus, in the background, various members of bands on the Fueled By Ramon record label sing previous choruses of Fall Out Boy songs previously released. It’s a brilliant idea and it works really well.

27 is next and brings a nice up-tempo feel to it. “I want it so bad I’d shoot the sunshine into my veins” is an example of the lyrics which are a little drug-related throughout the song, but still shows you that they’ve still got the lyrical presence in them.

Tiffany Blews follows and I enjoy the “oh”s that stump does yet again. This song has a slight bluesy feel to it which I enjoy. I prefer the second part of the chorus to the first as it has that extra dimension that the first part lacks.

w.a.m.s. is next and another track filled with brilliant lyrics and a killer chorus, I love the sound to it. At the end of the song, there’s a little rhythm and blues/jazz feel as Stump has an acapella jam with claps and foot stomps.

20 Dollar Nose Bleed follows and Fall Out Boy have definitely left some of the better songs to the end, as you get a brassy ska feel to the song, with Stump’s vocals sounding very gospel-like with the backing singers joining in to the feel of it. That’s a good thing by the way.

West Coast Smoker is the final song on the album. I love the part where they sing about the father, son and holy ghost. Stump’s ending the album in style reminding us not to forget about his brilliant vocals.

Overall, Folie à deux is an okay album. And I think i’m being generous with it. After listening to it a few more times, I don’t dislike it as much as did, but it hasn’t improved significantly for me to love it. There are a few good songs, but I just feel it’s a step backwards from their two previous albums. As the album ended in style, I’m giving it an 6/10.

Carrie Underwood – Carnival Ride

After the phenomenal success of her debut album, Some Hearts, in America, the multi platinum recording artist Carrie Underwood set her sights on the tricky “make you or break you” sophomore album that most artists pray they get right. It’s a chance to find your sound and really establish what artist you want to be, if you’ve come from a reality show like Underwood did. Her album was released here on July 7th 2008, 9 months after its release in America. But regardless of the wait, you’d soon find out that what you’re about to listen to was more than worth it.

Flat On The Floor is first, and the intro sounds a little like We’re Young And Beautiful from the previous album, but you soon realise when Underwood comes in, that this song is far greater than the other track. Carrie’s voice has clearly improved, with a more powerful sound.

All-American Girl is next and was the second single in America. It took me a while to get into this song, as I didn’t really appreciate the vocals, but after hearing it many times, it’s definitely grown on me. The verses are definitely its strong point.

So Small was the lead off single to the album in America. It’s a slow song, really showing Underwood’s improved control since the debut. The lyrics are brilliant, “sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand” they touch you with their simplicity.

Just A Dream is next and was released as the fourth single. It continues the slower theme, with a theme about a woman who’s just lost her husband. The lyrics are so sad, and Underwood really does them justice, telling the story so beautifully.

Get Out Of This Town follows with a happier and more up-beat feel to it. The chorus is catchy and will likely get you moving. Underwood’s vocals are really unmistakable, which sets her apart from the other country artists out there.

Crazy Dreams is next and don’t confuse this with the other ‘dream’ in the title. This song is a great country song about how your ambitions can come true.

I Know You Won’t follows and brings the tempo right down, with Underwood hurling out the charm into your ears, as she whispers out the verse. As it gets to the chorus, it really becomes one of my favourites on the album. Her change between falsetto and normal voice is magical.

Last Name is next and was the third single from the album. It has a sort of Before He Cheats feel to it. It’s definitely a Carrie anthem, with her killer attitude and vocals blowing you away. It’s definitely a firm favourite on the album for me.

You Won’t Find This follows up and is a beautiful song, changing from the high energy previous song, to this flowing ballad. Underwood’s voice sounds amazing during the chorus.

I Told You So was the fifth and final single from the album. It was a cover of the Randy Travis song of the same name. It’s a brilliant cover, and definitely one of my favourites from the album. Her voice carries out the longer, high notes so effortlessly.

The More Boys I Meet is next and brings the tempo back up. I love how Underwood sings “I don’t think so” throughout the song. The verses are brilliantly constructed and Carrie sounds brilliant as usual.

Twisted feels a little bit like a better ‘Wasted’ from the last album. It’s up-beat and catchy, with the chorus really bringing the song to life. Underwood really shines with the long, powerful notes.

Wheel Of The World is the final song on the album, and, i’ve got to say, I feel the album could have ended a little better. It’s not a bad song, but it’s not really a great song either. It’s a slower song to round the album off, and Underwood does her best to bring the song some meaning.

Overall, Carnival Ride is a major improvement to her debut, with plenty more great songs rather than just “okay” ones. Okay, so it didn’t chart in the UK and nor is she that popular over here. But that doesn’t matter, she’s having major success in America and she deserves it. This album is at least an 7.5/10.