Zara Larsson – “Ruin My Life”

Music Reviews

Zara Larsson returns with new single ‘Ruin My Life’ after a small time away from the industry. She sings of a ‘toxic, yet passionate relationship’ that some of us will all experience at least once in our lives. The long-anticipated track is a joyful listen, littered with edgy EDM-pop hooks and a little dash of a young Britney Spears school girl innocence.

The track has already accumulated a mass of attention considering its controversial wording –
“I want you to ruin my life
You to ruin my life, you to ruin my life, yeah
I want you to fuck up my nights, yeah”

The lyrics are not what you would call ‘lyrical genius’, but they have certainly triggered a few people because of their raw and up-front manner – you don’t particularly have to read between the lines in this chorus to understand what Larsson is trying to get across.
Despite the intriguing nature of the topic Zara is talking about, it all feels, quite frankly – a little distasteful.

Talking about toxic or even abusive relationships can be quite sensitive, especially for women who have suffered from domestic abuse. Listening to a cute electric guitar riff accompanied by the lyrics ‘I want you to ruin my life, I want you to fuck up my nights’ is not going to make it your pop songs meaningful, it’s just another tacky, overly-produced, heartless chart song.

Words: Julia Hope

Kurt Vile – ‘Bottle It In’

Music Reviews

It was a Friday morning. And a warm one too, for what should have been a chilly, autumnal day in October. Rays of sunlight were playfully peeping around the edges of my curtains where they don’t quite meet the wall. I shimmied myself into an upright position and rubbed my eyes. I pressed against them so hard that when I opened them again those blinding splodges were obstructing my vision. As the birds outside were chirping and the skies were being all soft and blue, I smiled, nodding to myself, “Well, hot dog, Kurt Vile’s new album is out today.”

Now slouching over the side of my bed, I grabbed my phone and selected the album on Deezer (yes, I use Deezer…shut up). The album which is ironically called ‘Bottle It In’ because if there is anything that Kurt Vile isn’t doing on this album, it’s keeping things bottled up.

Incoming ‘Loading Zones’ – the opening track which commences as I wiggle my feet into my slipper socks. Listen to me, you must remember to turn down the volume on your device before beginning. A loud and metallic ‘wah-wahing’ at the beginning of the track will yowl at you and you will fall over whilst putting on your socks. Once this frivolous croaking has subsided,  a spate of melodious guitar flushes in, ushered along by poetic lyrics of freedom and evading the law in the slurred drawling voice of our Philadelphian singer-songwriter.

By the second track, I’m in the kitchen, the kettle is on and my Co-op wholemeal bread is in the toaster. This one is called ‘Hysteria’. It has the same comatose, easy-going groove as ‘Loading Zones’. With crisp, flowery guitar and Kurt’s vocals more tender and lethargic, I felt like the butter oozing into the crevices of my toast. The song ended as I was reaching the end of my carbohydrate-fueled breakfast. Except it didn’t. Instead of finishing at the popular length of three minutes, an astral guitar solo slips in…followed by…two…more…verses.

Time to hop in the shower. Next is ‘Yeah Bones’, an ebullient track with a jittery groove, completely juxtaposing the previous tracks. I was busy pretending I was Emma Stone in Easy A, apart from I don’t have “a pocketful of sunshine”, I have a pocket full of ‘Yeah Bones’. Lost in the carefree buzz of the song and already singing the lyrics back to Kurt by the second chorus, it would be a fair assumption to say I was hooked. It’s happy-go-luckiness got me.

By this point, I was perplexed by the fact that I was only three songs into the thirteen-track album. My God, I did not know what was coming.

I don’t know if it was ‘Bassackwards’ beginning or the cold air tip-toeing over my skin, but I had goosebumps upon exiting the shower. First released in September as a single, ‘Bassackwards’ is utterly hypnotic and also the fourth track on the album. A cosmic instrumental section is the greeting for the track and the next nine minutes you will be spending with it. Samples played backwards (huh) imitate gasps of breath whilst remaining tuneful and avoiding queasiness. I found myself lost for words and short of breath. A delicately thin layer of shimmering synth is added to the mix, underneath the organic loop of  melancholy guitar. This song is Kurt’s empty heart. I slumped back into bed for the duration of the song, wet hair, towel and all.

I would just like to reiterate now that I was then four tracks deep, soon to be five.

Trotting along comes ‘One Trick Ponies’. THANKFULLY, a more lively tune. I eventually rose from my pit of sorrow and got dressed, feeling a bit better about wearing the same outfit everyday. It is undoubtedly clear by this point that Kurt Vile likes loops and looping and all things loopy — “Cause’ I’ve always had a soft spot for repetition” he sings. ‘One Trick Ponies’ fashions another chirpy, repeated guitar riff (I think I’m sensing a pattern). If you didn’t listen to the lyrics then this could well be identified as a happy song, but the lyrics have an air of loneliness about them. I heard you Kurt.

The ditty of the album, ‘Rollin’ With The Flow’ got me out the door, basking in the sun, the hazy, sunset vibrato of the guitar and offhand vocals encapsulating this feeling in three minutes.

I carried on listening to the album whilst running my daily errands — a little shopping, returning books to the library, admiring passing by dogs, etc. On returning home about 45 minutes later, the album was still going, I mean what’s that about? Come on. Sure, some of the best albums are the long, but by track eight, the title track, I had lost focus and with it interest.

At the end of it all, ‘Bottle It In’ is a fascinating album. There is no structure; it just is. Kurt’s loquacious narrative, repetitive melodies and staunch grooves make ears prick up and are giving a new lease of life to folk. It is definitely an album to start your day too. “There wasn’t no format because well, we like it like that.”

Words: Meg Berridge

[spunge] announce a UK tour with a new single.

News

[spunge] are back with their new single ‘Liar’ and a short UK tour.

This is the ska-punk band’s first single since their 2014 album Hang On?. ‘Liar’ is the type of punchy track that the fans would expect from them.

The band’s vocalist, Al Copeland, said the new single is “about the concept of people being very different creatures depending on who they’re with or what their agenda is.”

Copeland added this about the upcoming tour “We can’t wait to get back on tour – drinking, playing, trying out some new tunes and having a laugh, in that order.”

You can catch [spunge] rocking out this November / December at:

30 Nov 2018 – Cheltenham, Frog And Fiddle

01 Dec 2018 – Swansea, The Bunkhouse

02 Dec 2018 – Milton Keynes, Craufurd Arms

06 Dec 2018 – London, Islington Academy

09 Dec 2018 – Birmingham, Institute

 

Words: Natalie Lloyd-Shaw

PNL “leave the KOKO stage in the same conditions they came in: booed, hissed and cursed.”

Music Reviews

Joggers, weed and Algerian flags – that is what a PNL concert looks and smells like.

Before the Franco-Algerian rap sensations came on, Flohio delivered a pretty good set-list, introducing herself to the audience, mainly made up of young French people smoking, wearing joggers, tinted glasses, sleek hair, and so on.

Brothers Ademo and N.O.S took to the stage after being booed and hissed at by every single person at KOKO London, fed-up after a three-and-a-half hour wait. If we had known their set was only going to last twenty-eight minutes, it probably wouldn’t have been a sold-out show.

However, when the first few notes of ‘J’suis QLF’ were heard, the anger and impatience were soon forgotten. ‘QLF’ means ‘Que La Famille’ [‘Only the Family’] and is also the name of their label, as well as their slogan to prove they only trust their close friends, family, and their fans, of course.

« Comment ça va la mif ? » [« How’s it going fam? »] N.O.S asked once the first track was over. Much to their fans’ delight, the highly-auto-tuned ‘Naha’ then filled the venue, provoking a thunder of screams.

Seeing the audience come together, waving Algerian flags during ‘Le Monde ou Rien’ made me realise those two lads with their sunglasses, neatly-kept appearances and terrible stage presence might be worth it.

‘Bené’ was a joyful moment as PNL’s mates all appeared on stage with idiotic smiles – joints in one hand, phones in the other. What a great time they seemed to be having.

After a few words from N.O.S (does Ademo ever speak?) ‘Jusqu’au dernier gramme’ was next on their set list. While the previous song got the audience swaying, this track brought back the boring and tedious atmosphere of this gig.

‘DA’ got all the hands in the air moving in sync, before their latest release – ‘91’s’ – got us grooving a bit more.

Following that, I gathered they would only be playing ‘Onizuka’ and ‘À l’amoniaque’, before ending their first-ever concert – and probably their last one – in London.

Dead on 11pm, the two rappers left the stage in the same conditions they came in: booed, hissed and cursed.

This was probably the shortest and most uninteresting gig I have ever been to. But to watch so many Frenchies singing together, smoking joints and wearing their best joggers, was definitely something that was worth seeing.

Words: Lil Bonhomme

Florence + The Machine @ The O2, Wednesday 21st November 2018

Live Reviews

On Wednesday night, Florence + The Machine conquered the hearts, bodies and souls of every single person in The O2, with a magical and emotional show in Welch’s hometown.

Opting for a more neutral and calmer look with a wooden décor and warm lighting, the beautiful Florence introduced her pure, cleansed and calmer-self, opening the night with the first track from their album High as Hope – ‘June’.

 The front-woman wearing a long, flowing, light-pink dress set the tone of the evening with mind-blowing vocals and her usual delicate movements, spiralling around the stage and reaching out to the audience.

 “Hello London, we are Florence and The Machine – would you like to dance with us?” the singer asked with her sweet voice after ‘Hunger’ and ‘Between Two Lungs’.

 In a flip of ginger hair, she jumped, spun and danced her way through ‘Only If for a Night’, while the machine worked its magic behind her.

 The majestic performance of the orchestra-like ‘Queen of Peace’ was followed by Florence shedding a few tears of joy, admitting she was overwhelmed to be playing in London after so many years. To this, she also added a life lesson: “A revolution in consciousness starts within individuals, and hope has to become an action and not a wish.” How about that?

 The audience was drinking her words when she asked everyone to hold hands – and onto each other – during ‘South London Forever’, which was a trip down memory lane for her and us Londoners.

 The red-headed goddess and her machine then welcomed Patti Smith in the venue – not physically, but spiritually. The tribute – ‘Patricia’ – was a more serene version than the one on the album but was still as sincere.

 While Florence ran into the middle of the crowd during ‘Delilah’, and leaned her head against a man’s forehead at the beginning of ‘What Kind of Man’, her fans couldn’t help but wonder what she was going to do next.

 During the encore, the front-woman who appeared somewhat changed, brought back some old memories with ‘Shake it Out’, as if to prove she was cleansed and a different person.

 What I really found gobsmacking about this show wasn’t only the impressive vocals that Florence Welch delivers every time without fault, but the stage presence and the way she engaged with the crowd. Not many artists know how to do that when performing at The O2.

 But that lady sure can. And that is what makes a Florence + The Machine show so breathtaking. Mind-blowing vocals, awe-inspiring stage presence, and a machine that keeps on giving – what more could you ask for?

Set-list:

 June

Hunger

Between Two Lungs

Only If for a Night

Queen of Peace

South London Forever

Patricia

Dog Days Are Over

100 Years

Ship to Wreck

The End of Love

Cosmic Love

Delilah

What Kind of Man

Encore:

Big God

Shake It Out

Words: Lil Bonhomme

A$AP Rocky – “Sundress”

Music Reviews

A$AP Rocky has always expressed an interest in the psychedelic genre, and this new track teases that perhaps it is a channel he is keen to explore further.

Sampling his ‘Testing’ feature producer Kevin Parker (of Tame Impala), Rocky delivers a shimmering anti love song in his usual smooth as butter style, effortlessly flipping hip hop in a new direction – softer and more melodic than before. The more indie-leaning bassline compliments the rapper’s East Coast-meets-swing crooner voice. In a time when hip hop seems more than ever a cutthroat world fuelled by competition and aggressive showmanship, Rocky (real name Rakim Mayers) seems to find satisfaction in paving his own loverboy brand of rap.

It seems he can do no wrong, in the eyes of fans and critics alike. On one hand, there is no argument in his impeccable choice of collaborations, and his obsessive ear for production detail both sonically and audibly surpasses near anyone else in his field. Having said this, he still maintains authenticity and Sundress is simply a culmination of all these aspects. It is simultaneously fantastically retro in its sound, yet also unlike anything we have heard before.

Words: Briony Warsop

Troye Sivan announces UK and European Tour dates

News

Troye Sivan announced on twitter the dates and locations for the tour in support of his second album ‘Bloom’.

Four UK dates have been announced for the tour:

23rd February Glasgow

24th February Manchester

26th February Birmingham

28th February London

Troye showed his excitement in the lead up to the announcement. “It’s going to be a PARTY I can tell you guys that much”.

Tickets go on pre-sale tomorrow on the Troye Sivan app. General sale of the tickets will be Friday 23rd November.

Words: Megan Duce

RAIDER – “MAMA MIA”

Music Reviews

Dropping this trap lullaby, that busts crystalline rhymes with an off the heezy 808 drum & bass and sweet piano chords, Artem Chekh, aka RAIDER, this young MC shows the flaming rise of a new urban okrug scene in Ufa, the highly techno-logical capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan, in Russia, in which “gang life flourishes”.

It is perfectly portrayed in the artsy cover of his track, which can vaguely echo ‘Paranoid Android’’s dystopian atmosphere, but it’s all a product of his icy mind.

He can picture this street underworld so well because he himself joined this tough way of living, but it’s all behind his shoulders, ‘cause now he chose “simply to put the beauty in everyday life”, not lookin’ back and makin’ his mama proud.

As the title suggests, ‘Mama Mia’, which can wrongly remind us of the notorious ABBA musical or Freddie Mercury’s unforgettable exclamation in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, this is a modern bouncy Russian chanson made as a response of the typical attentive rules and advices coming from everyman’s mum. “She said do not go on the path that all fuckers choose” and in these blunt couplets reveals how mama’s preachings are heard and followed.

“I have no one way

I’ll do what I want

Many as unknowables

Fuck to notice the husk

They all fuck when they hear noise in the street”.

 

Words: Federica Ardizzone