The 1975 – “Sincerity Is Scary”

Music Reviews

I was not ready for this at all, ‘Sincerity is Scary’ was just another taster from the long-awaited album ‘A Brief Enquiry into Online Relationships’. This powerful, sultry ballad is unlike anything the band has ever produced before and it shows off the extreme versatility of being able to play with different genres, popular artists’ big in the game, take note.

The 1975 have graced our ears with pop/indie magical sounds since forming in the early 00’s and since then, most of their music has hit the charts – and for good reason. Regardless of their successful history, the band continues to evolve and surprise us with music that quite frankly, makes you want to dance your fucking ass off, whilst also contemplating the devastation of worldly issues (conflicting emotions, I know).

‘Sincerity is Scary’ covers topics that surround our current online-obsessed society. Posting photo’s on Instagram of yourself having a great time at a club – and then, desperately waiting for the recognition of your 1,000 followers to double tap that picture. We’re like alcoholics chasing that next hit of hard liquor, or the less dramatic and painfully modern… Endorphin rush our brain creates when we see our notification bar popping off. Matt Healy talks about the fear of honesty, candidness and sincerity – traits that our fellow humans are lacking in, because of the inability to express our feelings. It has you thinking of all the times you could have just been honest, instead of awkwardly laughing off uncomfortable situations. Why didn’t I just tell that guy that I’m not attracted to him rather than saying ‘I’m not ready for a relationship’? – the 1975 are trying to figure it out or, just make light of it. Telling us that it’s okay to be honest, even if it’s painful and awkward.

Stepping away from the obvious genius of the lyrics, the actual sound of the song is pure, raw, emotional bliss. Matt Healy’s voice caresses the sound of soft trumpets, saxophones and a simple piano melody with a slow drum snaring in the background. It is so refreshing to hear the influence of a genre that paved the way for so many other genre’s, Jazz. The fact that they have gone back to the early roots of when music was debatably, at its most emotional and vulnerable – shows their knowledge of musical history and their inevitable talent.

All in all, the 1975 have outdone themselves – this is a masterpiece created with love, raw emotion and unforgiving talent. This was one of the few songs that have had an early release, away from the actual album release – and oh boy, am I excited to see what follows.

Words: Julia Hope

Ice Nine Kills – ‘The Silver Scream’

Music Reviews

I love it when a band is insanely clever. And when I say insanely clever I mean it. Ice Nine Kills have proved in the past that they can take a medium and remake it into something else. Like in the 2015 literature themed album Every Trick In The Book which is a bloody witty name just like the new album. The Silver Scream is wickedly smart, taking iconic horror films from 1974-2005 and turning them into songs of equal horror. One could argue that these are the bands favourite horror themed songs from their early youth.

Each one a new lyrical genius from the last, it retells the stories from a new point of view. Be it the one we see in the films, an outside perspective or even the killer itself. Some of the songs have been accompanied by a music video as a part of a mini film about singer Spencer Charnas exploring his nightmares with a therapist. I won’t give any more away than that because you need to watch it for yourselves.

With varying forms of brutality, this album is nothing if not diverse and playing to the bands own talents. With truly guttural vocals and brutal breakdowns in songs such as Merry Axe-Mas, IT Is The End and Enjoy Your Slay (based on ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’, ‘IT’ and ‘The Shining’ respectively) it is easy to see why the metalcore scene have always held INK in high regard.

Alternatively to the heavy tracks on the album you’ll find songs like Love Bites and A Grave Mistake (‘American Werewolf In London’ and ‘The Crow’), which take on the softer tracks on the album which could be argued as these films aren’t horrors that are as scary as the others – in my opinion at least – because they both take on the theme of love in the background.

Truthfully, I cannot sell this album enough. It is not often you come across a gem amongst all of the music being released today. That is not to say the rest is bad, but a gem – a real fucking gem – is hard to come by. When musically it’s brilliant with not just the metalcore but a nod to their pop punk days, and lyrically it’s pure genius with its tongue in cheek puns it really should be screamed from the rooftops until everyone hears it.

Words: Courtney Solloway


Music Reviews

Hailing from Germany ANNISOKAY is a five-piece band founded in 2007 by members Christoph and Norbert. The name coming from Michael Jackson’s hit Smooth Criminal to confirm the fact that Ann is indeed okay. A comic name indeed for a metalcore band. Having already released three full-length albums and a 4-track cover of Michael Jackson classics ANNISOKAY have now gone on to release a whirlwind of an album that metalcore scene has been missing.

Like a sudden goddamn punch to the face the immediacy of which this album starts floors you as it grips you and pins you there. The first track Coma Blue may well even be my favourite track on this album. It’s heavy with a brutal breakdown, haunting harmonies and clean vocals with alternating screams. I’m not usually a fan of electronic synths being used to often in metal as it can often at times overpower the sound of the instruments being played, however, ANNISOKAY have just enough that it adds something a little more without taking away from the rest.

Humanophobia and Fully Automatic follow the same structure as each other. A quiet start – though one is synth based and the other riff – before it begins to pound into the song. Humanophobia is most definitely the heaviest track and the screaming is more present than the clean vocals when more typically on the album it’s evenly split, this break the song by any means as the clean vocals provide breaks in the song to stop it from being too overwhelming. On the opposite end of the scale with Fully Automatic, the outro was short and sweet, but the guitar was hauntingly beautiful to match the lyrics of the song.

Breaking from the rest of the albums heavy style, Innocence Was Here starts with beautifully intricate piano and the vocals add to the sadness. This song is different though because it displays pure, raw emotion. I don’t know if this is because the song is more personal or if it the passion they put into it, but it is simply haunting and a stand out track for all the right reasons.

ANNISOKAY put a lot of work into this album and it goes without saying that this album is impeccable. From raw emotion to rap and the heaviest of screamo that metalcore has to offer, there is something for everyone here.

Words: Courtney Solloway

Walkney – ‘Oh No EP’

Music Reviews

Released on the Friday just gone Walkney has released his debut EP Oh No after having appeared on American Idol and landing a spot on NOW 66 with his track Lucia Rose. As well as touring the US and Canada with help from his sponsor Spirit Airlines (Music4Miles) Walkney is ready to release these songs which he calls “Only the tip of the iceberg”.

This EP is a lot of fun from start to finish. Ironically the first track on the EP titled Unhappy actually plays like an incredibly happy dance tune. Starting a little bit slow and jazz like it builds itself up gradually and when it meets its peak its quite an easy and enjoyable listen. So whether you want to dance or just want something happy to listen to this is a good song. The title of the song though Unhappy is because of the lyrical side of the song. It’s clear to me that as he knows himself – he is no stranger to heartbreak.

The guitar in each and every one of his songs has a hint of Spanish and Latin acoustic and quite a lot of rock n roll elements too. He is joyful, soulful and yet bluesy and his voice which is quite clear with a subtle raspiness really compliments this – most noticeably in track 2: Lady. Track 3: Wah has a very early Maroon 5 and Lenny Kravitz like feel to it due to its guitar but it’s not so close that it’s unoriginal and it is quite easily my favourite track on the album. I also loved the clever title of the song as it does indeed use a Wah-Wah pedal in the song.

Track 4: Lucia Rose – which was released prior to the EP is a song that listens like it was written to a lost love. The one that got away. Starting with just a catchy piano and drum beat Walkney’s vocals almost blend into each of the notes as he is incredibly on key. The small breaks between drums and the airiness in his voice magnify this performance before reaching its peak at the bridge.

Track 5: Beast follows closely to song Wah but rather than more rock n roll elements it follows more of the jazz and latin inspiration with pop coming in and out of it quite a bit.

Overall, I feel like this really is just the beginning for this artist and Walkney certainly knows what already works for him and I’m excited to see more coming from him.

Words: Courtney Solloway

The Veer Union – ‘Decade II: Rock & Acoustic’

Music Reviews

I had never heard about this band before having them reach out to me via Twitter asking to hear my opinion on their newest music video Living Not Alive. I’m incredibly happy that they reached out to me because not only did I investigate their music video which was thought provoking lyrically to say the least, but I decided to go on and listen to the album it is from – Decades II: Rock & Acoustic. I have to say that the 18-track album did not disappoint. Whilst listening to them I decided to do a little research on this band that seemed to already have an established sound.

Well as it turns out the band have been around longer than I had expected and have had their fair share of trials and tribulations over the years. They released their first debut album under the name Veer in 2006. This same album was then re-released later under their current name. In 2011 the band were dropped for their record label and crowd funded an EP in 2013. I’ve watched bands come and go over the years, some of which friends and even family have been in and in most circumstances, this is enough to cause a band to call it quits but this quartet are stubborn and will not go down without a fight. And in this album, they demonstrate that they obviously still have way more to give.

I admire this band greatly for wanting to continue doing what they love. And it would appear that it is paying off as they have just finished their own headlining tour as well as having toured with Puddle Of Mudd, Saliva, Tantric and Shallowside.

The song that started this entire journey in the first place Living Not Alive caught my attention because of the lyrics – as stated previously. And whilst it translates really well in its original form it’s the acoustic version of the song that I feel really hammers the point home. Taken from an interview with Kerrang! singer Crispin Earl said “What inspired me to write the song was the connection between the over-use of social media and clinical depression. We used to live in a time where people really lived in the moment — now it seems more important to capture that moment for a post to get likes and shares, in exchange for a dose of dopamine. We are all guilty of this, myself included. Some people deal with this better than others, but the message in Living Not Alive is simple: We shouldn’t forget to take time to really live in the moment, before we become lost in a world where we are living, but not alive.” I feel as though this may actually hit home for a lot of people and it’s proof of some truly deep thinking on behalf of the band and this is a theme running throughout the album. It’s not the typical sex, drugs and rock n roll type of rock. This album is driven by pure emotion and that is something I can definitely get behind.

Decades II: Rock & Acoustic is a brilliantly done album. With not only their own songs on the album in both their style of rock and acoustic (which is an applaudable amount of work) they include covers from the likes of Linkin Park and Faith No More. The songs in Question Numb and Epic. The quartets cover of Numb is hauntingly beautiful and a tribute full of emotion to the band. Epic is full of all the fun of the original but more suited to TVU’s style.

To sum this album I would say that it is: hauntingly beautiful, thought provoking, new and refreshing. I can definitely see myself listening to this band a lot more in the future.

Words: Courtney Solloway

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

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