[LIVE REVIEW] INSECURE MEN AT THE WINDMILL

Live Reviews

Before tonight not much could be guaranteed about Fat White Family founder Saul Adamczewski’s new project Insecure Men. They had previously performed one show somewhere in New York and the only real taste of the new venture could be found in Saul’s Karaoke for One a nine track album available on the Insecure Men Soundcloud made up of covers performed by Saul and his keyboard.

Needless to say, with the vast growth in Fat White Family’s popularity and the air of mystery around what this new endeavour would sound like, tickets for the show sold out almost immediately. This was to be something special, a first glimpse at something fresh and undoubtedly weird, with the promise of uncommon instruments within the band, including a vibraphone as well as a lap steel guitar.

The evening started with Sleaze a four piece with some serious balls, the frontman had a striking resemblance to a young Begbie from Trainspotting, maybe it was the moustache that gave me this impression, but something was definitely screaming young Robert Carlyle at me. The bassist looked like he could have been a member Marilyn Manson in the early days, dressed in ankle high boots with knee high black socks, leading up to a black skirt ad then a black shirt and tie, all topped off with a huge afro like hairstyle squashed under a trucker style cap with the words “MEATUP” printed into it.

The sounds of Sleaze were very bass driven, it seemed to be the meat of the songs, while the guitar and keyboard seemed to enjoy a lot of harmonies that added an extra layer to the bass and gave it an almost country like twang at times. It was well rehearsed and performed brilliantly, there was definitely a strong stage presence that connected with the crowd, which is always so inspiring to see from bands with a pretty small reputation.

The next band Horsey brought something much different to the table, to start off the entire band’s image said to me that these four got half way through a degree in geography and realised what a stupid fucking life choice it was, and so decided to start a band. A few of the members honestly looked like they could have been part of some university comedy show like Fresh Meat.

When they started their set I was almost instantly pushed away, they keyboard player and guitar player would share harmonies like the last band, but it seemed out of tune and out of practice, it almost felt a bit painful to watch. Eventually it seemed to warm up and the two delivered some really good harmonies which complimented the music really well, I’m unsure as to whether the earlier out of tune vocal harmonies were on purpose as they seemed to be trying really hard to give off this kind of rough edge.

The way that they would deliver some harmonies was like they had spent years of their youth in the church choir, this and the lyrical content combined with their image seemed to really reflect that they were tired of living with mummy and daddy in the 10 bedroom estate house somewhere in the country, they wanted to move to the city and play in a band but still kept a strand of their upbringing.

I say all of this like I hated the band and I thought they were a bunch of posers, but really the way their lyrics were structured, the way they would go from quiet parts with choir like vocals into madness and screams like a posh Heck in a split second. They were different and at times they impressed me and caught me off guard.

But now, on to the main event the reason so many had travelled to Brixton to cram themselves into a small pub, Insecure Men! I would like to point out at this part that while trying to cool off in the cold January air in the venue’s garden my friend and fellow writer Liam spotted Lias and a few other members of Fat White Family sat down entangled in conversation in the smoking area, it was at this point that Liam began to scream like a with excitement! This was also interesting because Lias had been present in many of Saul’s Instagram posts that were to do with Insecure Men rehersals or recordings, so now it felt like there was a strong possibility that he would be part of the large cast of musicians to feature within the band.

As we ventured back inside to take our place for the show, a man in a dark velvet suit, with a thick beard and a kind of trilby hat with a large peacock feather sticking out at one of the sides was setting up a lap steel guitar. He soon exited the stage to fetch more equipment and while doing this he bumped into me trying to get past, almost instantly I could hear people all around me talking about who this mysterious man could be.

The strongest rumour seemed to be that it was the son of John Lennon, Sean. I quickly flicked on to one of his social media profiles to find the poster for the show with the with the caption “I’d love to invite you to this show, but it’s sold out” it was true, and the son of John Lennon had brushed shoulders with me, I will probably never stop bragging out it, I know it sounds silly, but then the man is technically half of a quarter of the Beatles.

The true triumph of this evening was the logistical masterpiece of managing to fit eight people onto a stage that I had watched four people struggle to share all evening, in total there was a drummer, vibraphonist, a saxophone player, bassist, two keyboard players, Sean Lennon on lap steel guitar and Saul with guitar and vocals. They were squeezed on to the point where you could only actually see four of them for pretty much all of the set.

Once Insecure Men began they captivated the audience with the unbelievable wall of sound, so many instruments combining together to create mellow almost heartbroken noises. The lyrical content was at times hard to pick out due to Saul’s vocals occasionally being mumbled, however I am sure that this was part of the song to compliment his mellow vibe. However, the lyrics that I did hear clearly were provoking, funny and almost chilling.

I remember being moved when the words “I never got to kiss my lover, she’s buried in foreign sands” was repeatedly muttered through a song, I laughed when he announced the title of another song Whitney Houston and I, singing “Whitney Houston and I enjoy hot showers” seeming hinting towards some illicit substances that the pair may also have common interests in. There was also a song where he seemed to throw a lot of shade at Rod Stewart, I don’t recall the lyrics entirely but he definitely wasn’t singing Rod’s praises. Saul didn’t seem afraid to go all the way and say what he wanted to say with these songs.

The set was rather short, probably about 45 minutes or so, but for an act that haven’t released anything but a short album of covers I wasn’t expecting much more. Needless to say I was blown away by the craftsmanship and passion that had been thrown into this project, the collection of friends that Saul had managed to bring to the stage for the evening, and how it was all held together very well despite having minimal time to rehearse as a full group, there was one point where Saul seemed to get a bit angry towards the saxophone player for playing a few notes wrong during one song, before turning around to the audience and apologising saying how “shit” it was, although I still thought it didn’t sound too bad. He sometimes would wave his arms looking pissed off at sections of the band, like a violent orchestral conductor.

Overall it was a fantastic glance at an interesting new band, that dare to be and do things differently, to throw in as many instruments as possible to produce sounds that may be uncommon to many gig goers. Insecure Men stand out as one of this years most exciting new acts and I eagerly await an upcoming EP or album!

Words by Rob McKelvey

[FEATURE] FROM HYPE WILLIAMS TO BABYFATHER: THE FORM DEFYING ART OF DEAN BLUNT

Features, Uncategorized

It must have been frustrating following the career of Hype Williams. With memory of life prior to the internet feeling increasingly foggy, any fact which isn’t a quick Wiki search away begins to be treated with the utmost contempt. How dare you not divulge accurate information? What do you mean you’ve joined the nation of Islam? How the fuck did you both meet watching Oasis at Knebworth?

Details of the project’s inception are shrouded in mystery; supposedly an art relay project, each incarnation taking hold of the helm for five years. This particular manifestation was domineered by the elusive artists Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland, although neither of those names turned out to be genuine. To this day the backgrounds of both artists remain relatively unknown, with just fragments of dubious claims emerging – such as Dean Blunt actually being an ex-boxer.

The music itself became notorious for its post-modern bricolage; steeped in irony, with the line between fact and fiction, sample and composition, utterly blurred. Loosely associated with the post-hypnagogic underground, Hype Williams filtered the history of electronic music, movie dialogue, and long forgotten pop through a stubbornly lo-fi, crackled facade, adding dub dynamics and pitch shifted vocal trickery. The sound – like their persona – consistently evaded clarity, revelling in the distortion of perception. As Chal Raven noted whilst writing for Dummy back in 2012, “No amount of quasi-academic scrutiny can reveal the “answers” to Hype Williams. The music is its own armour.”

It’s a curious contradiction; the elusive nature of Hype Williams seemed to run against a vital internet mantra – ‘share everything’ – yet conversely, so much of the groups identity seemed utterly dependent upon digital culture. From crediting the artwork of their album Black Is Beautiful to Danny Dyer, to releasing an output of such gargantuan size that it would put Mark E Smith to shame. This hyper exposure to culture – as well as a hyper production of their own – makes them a quintessential embodiment of the digital avant-garde. With an over-saturation of music within our daily lives, what unavoidably emerges is a state of demystification. In the case of Hype Williams, the duo managed to re-achieve a sense of mystique through relentless dishonesty.

Prior to the release of their two most widely available albums – under the Hype Williams moniker – the duo had already forged one of the most potent articulations of their sound. 2010’s Untitled comes across as if it were formed from an impromptu jam session, the track Untitled 4 building steadily around a central trudging drum procession, with a seasick drone growing increasingly erratic. Meanwhile the albums opener, Untitled 1, miraculously achieves a kind of vitally modern, ambient pyschedelia; an ambience that stems from the manic bombardment of endless information.

They followed Untitled with two more full lengths as Hype Williams, though neither were truly able to achieve a similarly bizarre concoction. Both 2010s What Happens When People Stop Being Polite, and Star Gettin’ Real and 2011s One Nation felt largely lost within a foggy miasma, unable to take a truly worthwhile form. In 2012 However, the duo released the album Black is Beautiful, under the names Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland. Though Black is Beautiful shares much of the woozy demo-esque sound that defined both One Nation and What Happens When…, where the album differs is its altogether bolder feel. The project in no way harnesses or tames the ardent experimentalism, but manages to make it all the more impressionable. The misshapen, battered footwork of 12; the garbled flow of 9, which sits atop a kaleidoscopic Casio jam, sounding simultaneously cheap and cosmic; or the LCD laced digi-dub of 10, with Copeland seemingly attempting a ritualistic incantation, whilst wildly mutating synths screech and wheeze in the background. 

Black is Beautiful marked the dissolution of Hype Williams, and the emergence of Dean Blunt as solo auteur. On his mixtape The Narcissist – later re-released as The Narcissist II, with alterations on the tracks – Blunt’s baritone first truly emerges, largely becoming the musics foreground. The Narcissist II and his 2013 debut album, The Redeemer, offer dual perspectives on the same destructive relationship; one in the midst of the carnage (Narcissist) whilst the other delivers some form of reflection (Redeemer).
Both The Narcissist II and The Redeemer have been compared to a play or soap opera, with The Narcissist II being flat out cinematic – journo cliche, I know. It provides a voyeuristic scurrying through various dimly lit city flats, conjuring images of couples bellowing at each other, whilst lower floor neighbours screech in dismay at chaos unfolding above. The music of The Narcissist II is a sludging, beaten ‘n’ bruised R&B. A kind of knackered soul persists, the genre worn thin and drained of euphoria, a narcotic induced hysteria taking its place. Documenting the bitter demise of a relationship, The Narcissist II is relentlessly pessimistic. A dour, rain drenched account of modern romance, identifying the point at which extreme passion teeters over towards acts of jealous violence. Despite the turmoil and anguish seeping out of each faulty synth stab and shattered vocal, in the title track we find a song destined to achieve classic status. The devastating interplay between Copeland and Blunt; its melodicism submerged in an ocean of tape hiss; a symphony of sirens ebbing in and out of this deeply unflattering private affair.
The Redeemer may very way be Blunt’s greatest achievement to date – an album spoken of in hushed tones among certain circles. Throughout, Blunt deceptively adopts the role of dishevelled crooner. A semi-competent mimicry of the heartbroken troubadour, his voice overreaching and cracking at regular intervals, it being impossible to discern between yet another sly divergent tactic and feelings of genuine heartache. The Redeemer may toy with the confessional singer songwriter archetype, but its fragmented – wholly disjointed – narrative stubbornly evades any cliches associated with “the breakup album”, able to inject absurdist humour within deep spats of lethargic depression.
Despite The Redeemer’s title – obviously suggesting a shift in morals or desire for personal growth – surface level perception has never really been at the height of Dean’s goals. There are unavoidable questions that demand positing. Is this relationship genuine? If so, what about his account? Blunt is as much playing with the form (breakup/emotionally redemptive album) as he is attempting to find emotional catharsis through his art. The Redeemer – though equally open to melodrama – is a more solemn affair than The Narcissist II, the instrumentation stripped bare, Blunt’s voice withering to a hazy drool.
 
Sonically the instrumentation deceptively mimics the more confessional tone, with fake midi strings sitting across various samples, Joanna Robertson adding finger picked guitar work – all building up these seemingly more honest songwriting tropes. What is perhaps most endearing about the project is its scope and ambition relative to its actual technical ability and resources. The desire to say something grand or epic, despite not having the tools at hand – which an acclaimed/famous composer would have access to. This also comes across on the accompanying mixtape/album Stone Island, a release supposedly made entirely in a Russian hotel room. The most breathtaking example would be on track 6, which samples an iconic portion of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, adding almost absurd levels of drama to Blunt’s forlorn narrative.
Despite the acclaim Blunt had achieved by this point, he was dismayed to discover the reach of his art. “I made this stuff so black people would be impressed”, he confided to The Wire, “I didn’t know white people were gonna get in on it. But it’s mostly a bunch of sexless guys that buy my records.” The subject of race has always been a crucial aspect to Dean’s art, but on both 2014’s Black Metal and his work as Babyfather, it became its most prominent topic.
Black Metal was themed around the black appropriation of dead white tropes, with Blunt believing this to be a regressive act, as those who are truly radical should venture into something new and undefined. It may then seem odd to discover that the albums first half is comprised of nothing but white tropes – musically anyway. Chiming, sun-kissed indie; rustic folk explorations; Blunt continuing to develop the string laden balladeer persona; its only when we arrive at the mid section when we start to delve further into genres like dub or hip-hop – although even then they’re given titles like Punk or Country. In regards to his decision behind all this, well… as always with Dean, its difficult to decipher within interviews whether he’s providing helpful context or further blurring the picture. What the album does do is bring in to question a number of key issues young black artists face, issues to do with wider appropriation and pressures to assimilate rather than investigate your own culture. But unlike a thinkpiece or social realist art piece, the album isn’t simply providing a straightforward critique of real world issues, rather exploring these themes in an engulfing surreal environment.
The last two years have found Blunt drifting towards a far more overtly hip hop sound, coming into full fruition on 2016’s “BBF” Hosted By DJ Escrow. More pirate radio transmission than album; mixtape-like in it’s fluctuation in sound; grime beats sit side by side with brutalist noisescapes, whose layers of corrosive static leave a molten mess in their wake. The utterances of DJ Escrow give shards of narrative, a hopeful MC worn down the pressures of inner city life; meanwhile Blunt’s detached flow reveals a thinly veiled rage. The near instrumental Deep – with production aid from Arca – threatens an inevitable combustion; lysergic synths wail, replicating a woozy bent out of shape string section; an oppressive atmosphere, Escrow intersecting with desperate lines, doom laden utterances, a claustrophobic insistence that he’s “in too deep.” His most politically engaged, radical release, “BBF” was considered a novelty endeavour by some; understandable given his reputation as a prankster, but there’s a crucial lesson to be learnt with Blunt… he might sometimes be taking things seriously.
Words by Eden Tizard

[FEATURE] THE DANGERS OF BEING A CELEBRITY

Features

Everybody is a fan in some way. It doesn’t matter who the person is or what they do, we all have our preferred celebrities. But what happens when it inches over the line towards a dangerous obsession?

On the 25th of February, Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco had to move out of his house.

Any average fan of the American rock band knows that Urie loves that house – he’d previously built a home studio in his garage where the entirety of most recent album Death Of A Bachelor was written (and some of it was recorded there, too), and the cover of the album was shot on the roof of the house. It’s very much a large part of Urie’s inspiration, not to mention his image.

And shortly after he moved in, his address was widely circulated around the internet. A short Google search will bring you the information, and some fans have taken that as an invitation to camp outside the Urie house.

In a statement posted to Twitter, the frontman explained that while he appreciates receiving gifts and letters, visits from fans made him feel unsafe in his own home: “Everyone has a right to feel safe […] so I’m taking my family somewhere that might make that a possibility.”

Read the full statement below:

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Urie’s concerns are understandable. If you can’t be safe in your own home, when can you be? And it’s not his fault – unavoidably, one argument that has come to light is that it’s his own fault for being in a band. But what’s wrong with wanting to share your art? I’m not denying that music isn’t about the person behind it. Of course it is, when those people write the music and the lyrics from their experiences. But sometimes, appreciating a musician goes way too far and this is a prime example.

But sometimes, fans don’t realise they’re doing anything wrong. When, exactly, does a admiring a celebrity turn into something more sinister? It’s an idea that’s been tossed around for years, decades, since the very early days of Beatlemania.

Celebrity Worship Syndrome was first properly identified in 2003, with an accompanying scale to identify the severity of the issue:

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These are only the first twenty questions, but they’re pretty harmless. Most people have probably felt like this about a celebrity at some point in their lives, whether it is through admiration or adoration – it’s just that Celebrity Worship Syndrome explains that feeling to the extreme.

 

There are three individual dimensions of Celebrity Worship Syndrome:

 

  1. The entertainment-social dimension. This describes a person who is attracted to a celebrity on the factors of their perceived entertainment skills and to become a social topic among like-minded people.
  1. The intense-personal dimension. This describes a person who has intensive and compulsive feelings about a celebrity.
  1. The borderline-pathological dimension. This describes a person who displays uncontrollable feelings or fantasies about a celebrity.

It is believed that one in three Britons’ celebrity obsession amounts to Celebrity Worship Syndrome – with one in four’s obsession affecting their daily lives. And this figure has more than likely been on the rise. These figures were released fourteen years ago, and the invention of social media platforms has made it easier than ever to cyber stalk celebrities. The likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook has made your average musician’s thoughts accessible to everyone.

A 19-year-old has told the Sydney Morning Herald that it’s easy to find celebrities through their social media posts. “All you have to know is the celebrity and how they use their social media,” Karla Del Rosario said. “You can find hotels and such by looking at the details in the background.”

I, personally, would call this stalking. There is a difference between being a fan of a celebrity, keeping up to date with the latest gossip, going to see their shows, loving their art. There’s a difference between that and waiting for a celebrity at an airport or their home or their hotel.

But where do you draw the line? At what point does being interested in a musician or an actor turn into a mental illness? There’s another mental illness that covers these symptoms: erotomania. And both syndromes are almost constantly prevalent in cases of stalking, but what about the blurred lines? When does keeping up with celebrity news turn into obsessively following every minute of celebrity news?

It doesn’t seem there are any specific case studies on Celebrity Worship Syndrome, but maybe there should be. It’s claimed that there are links between the syndrome and poor mental health, as well as cosmetic surgery and compulsive spending. These all point towards the most common perpetrators being teenage girls – young and impressionable – and it would be, well, not great, but better if those worshipped were role models.

As it goes, the most noticeable and recent figure is Justin Bieber. He’s hardly someone to look up to, especially in the earlier years of his career. Anyone else remember him spitting on fans, pissing in buckets and crashing cars? Just because he made one good album doesn’t immediately erase everything he did. But it’s not just his actions – it’s the actions of his fans. There was a fan-made Twitter campaign: #cut4bieber. The whole trend was based around trying to stop the Canadian singer from doing drugs and was apparently started by well-known troll website 4Chan, but it’s inevitable that some young girls genuinely believed the hashtag and actually self-harmed.

How obsessed do you have to be to hurt yourself for the sake of a celebrity? That has to be beyond the boundaries of mental illness, surely. It’s not healthy – frankly, it’s a little terrifying, considering that these fans don’t even know the person they’re obsessed with. They could be anyone. Take Ian Watkins of Lostprophets, for example.

But can you help the sufferers of Celebrity Worship Syndrome? Is there any way to stop it? There must be a rational part of them that figures it’s not right, that celebrities are human too, that they need boundaries. Individuals like this need to be stopped because not only is it dangerous for the worshipped, it’s also dangerous for the individuals themselves.

The rise of technology and social media is only going to make it easier for people to get obsessed, so is there any ways of curbing it? Or will it just keep growing until it’s too late, until someone takes it too far?

Words by Lucy Wenham

FUTURE MAKES HIS MARK ON 2017 ALREADY WITH TWO ALBUMS

News

We are only three months into 2017 and there have already been some incredible artists making their marks – one of those being 33-year-old hip-hop artist FUTURE.

Future’s self-titled and fifth studio album dropped on February 17th with amazing reviews and charting highly on the Billboard 200. Exactly a week later, he then dropped a second album named ‘HNDRXX’ which includes collaborations with Rihanna and The Weeknd, also charted highly.

The release of two albums in one week is a rarity in itself, especially with little to no campaigning. Future took complete control and posted on social media, after a month long silence, that ‘Future’ was on it’s way and that the ‘Nobody Safe’ tour was also on its way with the likes of Migos, Kodak Black, Tory Lanez, Young Thug and ASAP Ferg. Then with the promotion of his sixth album ‘HNDRXX’, he went on to hastag the album along with it’s producer DJ Esco.

This week there have been rumours that Future was to release two more follow up albums, but this was later denied by manager Anthony Salah. It has now been confirmed during an interview with Karizza Sanchez at the Reebok ZOK! Runner event that there will be no third album and that Future is revelling in the success of his two albums.

Future and HNDRXX are available on music purchasing platforms.

Words by Jasmine Greggory

[ALBUM REVIEW] VANT – DUMB BLOOD

Music Reviews

Opening tracks from debut albums are usually where bands go big, from I Wanna Be Adored to Smells Like Teen Spirit, it’s an opportunity to really lay the gauntlet. Vant’s debut opens with The Answer and tackles the topic of the Afghanistan war with the grace of Vinnie Jones.

Now if I didn’t have to review this album for my uni mark, I’d have backed out at the point vocalist Matty Vant so poetically articulates the relationship between the US and UK by singing “You’re from England well, “Hello there my brother” Keep sucking my dick, while my friend fucks your mother”. Dumb Blood has a forty-minute cringe-inducing shot a jumping on the #woke bandwagon.

On Put Down Your Guns, Vant sings, “Middle-class fools, self centred rich. Brainwashed villains that poison the sick” it’s about as punk as that mate you have that adorns their uni walls with a Communist flag. Are We Free? bloats the entire album at a staggering seven minutes that never really builds to anything.

When Vant ditch the pseudo-punk flag it drawers some pretty decent results, highlight of the album ,Parking Lot, is a has-blinder of a bridge and sees them really showing their teeth with regards to guitar work. Do You Know Me? isn’t musically worlds apart from Parking Lot, but does just enough thanks to a nice solo to stand in it’s own right has a standout track.

On the whole, Dumb Blood excels musically and can at times be pretty engaging, however lyrically it’s like a car crash. Vant quite admirably seem more than happy to stand proud about what the believe in but it does feel like these sentiments could be left at the beer garden they belong in.

Words by Jack Winstanley

[FEATURE] MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT A MEME

Features

Mental illness is not exactly uncommon. According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in four people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime and mental illness makes up 28% of all diseases in the world – the biggest by far. Going by this, several people you know will have suffered with a mental illness. It could be your mother, your brother, your cousin or your best friend. It could even be you. So why are we so insensitive when it comes to celebrities and mental health?

Recently, Kanye West announced he had cancelled an upcoming tour for undisclosed reasons – undisclosed until it was reported he’d been rushed into hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. Since then, more details have emerged: a combination of sleep deprivation and a robbery involving his wife Kim Kardashian in Paris a month previous has left him ‘shaken and paranoid’.

It’s a serious matter, but some reactions to the entire situation are disgusting. First, we need to look at the Paris robbery: why do people think this is funny? The Kardashians are not the public’s favourite family, granted, but this doesn’t change the fact that Kim Kardashian is a mother, a daughter, a sister and a wife. Nobody deserves to be held at gunpoint. ‘But she flaunts her wealth!’ you cry. Yes, her life revolves around social media and marketing herself, but I’ve seen sixteen year olds from small towns flaunting their new Pandora ring or brag about their iPhone upgrade on Snapchat too many times to count. Pot, kettle, anyone?

A gunpoint robbery is a traumatic experience for anyone. It’s not about the jewellery that was stolen, or the amount of money received from insurance. A robbery takes material items, but it gives you something too: pure fear and a need to look over your shoulder constantly. Imagine if that happened to someone you loved, if it was your wife that was threatened. Would you laugh it off, say she deserved it? Or would you say that it’s okay, because she can afford it anyway? No, you’d be angry, you’d be terrified and you’d feel guilty and that’s probably how West is feeling right now.

So why should we act like his mental problems are a joke? A meme is currently doing the rounds on Facebook, comparing West to the late Lemmy:

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You’ve probably seen it. You probably read it, agreed and laughed it off, because this doesn’t tell you the true extent of West’s problems. And anyway, since when is it acceptable to one up each other using health issues? I personally don’t think these two situations are even comparable – mental health and physical health are two vastly different worlds with their own consequences, and everyone uses a different coping mechanism with their own issues so why do we feel the need to judge others?

But it’s not just Kanye West that has publicly faced mental health problems. At the start of the year, Justin Bieber controversially cancelled all booked meet and greets, with a statement on Instagram claiming that he feels “mentally and emotionally exhausted to the point of depression” after meeting fans. In this statement, he also addresses the exhaustion of having to meet people’s expectations. It’s all very valid, and fans seemed to agree with most comments showing nothing but support for the singer. But most negative comments seemed to come from those who aren’t even a fan – people claiming that he owes it to his followers, and once again comparing him to other celebrities.

Justin Bieber is well known, that much is obvious. He has a massive following, which is made up mostly of young girls who look up to him. He’s something of a role model, and to have to play that act on the days you’re feeling a bit off must be tiring to say the least. There’s also the reports that fans have previously pulled his hair, torn his clothes and purposely made him ill, so it’s clear that it’s not worth risking his safety, let alone his health.

And then there’s Zayn Malik, one time member of boyband One Direction. In September, he announced that he would be pulling out of a concert in Dubai due to “extreme anxiety around major live solo performances”. Once again, this is very valid but fans were left fuming. It’s a totally different process, playing a show by yourself vs. with a group, and more so because Malik is used to performing with four other men. In an interview with ES magazine, he said “I speak about [my anxiety] so that people don’t understand it doesn’t matter what level of success you have, where you’re from, what sex you are, what you do”.

It’s important that celebrities address these issues. Not only does it bring a better sense of understanding to mental illness, but it also removes the stigma surrounding it one person at a time. Mental health is not a joke, it’s not something to be mocked or laughed at. You wouldn’t make cancer the punch line, so why make it depression?

This is the way I see it: fans are not entitled to anything. They’re not entitled to a tour or a meet and greet because they bought an album. And when they say, ‘well, this artist shared their music with the world, they know what was going to happen’, I say you didn’t have to buy the album, you don’t have to listen to that music. The public does not dictate a celebrities’ life, and we seem to forget that those in the limelight are human too. They all have feelings and friends and family, and they deserve their rights to good health and wellbeing as much as the rest of us do.

Artists should not be stripped of their human rights because they shared their art. They didn’t have to, but they did, and because of that we get to enjoy it so we should all, at the very least, be thankful for that.

 

Words by Lucy Wenham

[TRACK REVIEW] ALL TIME LOW – DIRTY LAUNDRY

Music Reviews

After a brief hiatus, All Time Low have returned. Following a week-long media campaign where they teased fresh tunes on their social media, they’re bigger and better than ever: announcing that they’ve signed to the pop punk giant label Fueled By Ramen and releasing new track, Dirty Laundry.

Far from the sugary sweet style of their back catalogue, the Baltimore quartet’s new single opens with an ethereal synth beat. It sounds dark, like ribbons curling through your chest and mind until you can’t forget, squeezing tight. Frontman Alex Gaskarth’s voice layers the track perfectly with dulcet, astral tones. At some points, it sounds like his velvety crooning is melding with the song.

From a first listen, you’d think that Dirty Laundry is you’re average dull heartbreak song. But lyrics such as “I don’t care what you did/I only care what we do” and “Nobody’s perfect I confess/But she’s perfect enough”, it’s clear to see that this is a love song – and it’s a love song like no other. All Time Low are acknowledging that actually, nobody is perfect – and no relationship will ever be perfect – and that’s what makes this song stand out against the rest.

It looks like Fueled By Ramen suits the band perfectly.

Words by Lucy Wenham

[ALBUM REVIEW] SLEAFORD MODS – ENGLISH TAPAS

Music Reviews, Uncategorized

Regardless of your political stance it’s indisputable that we are living in dark and dangerous times. With rise of the alt-right, England leaving the EU and of course the election of Donald Trump you could be forgiven for wanting a good cry. With the seismic shift of the political tectonic plates however there comes emergences in the form of musical brilliance and Sleaford Mods are the mother of all volcanoes. Since 2013 vocalist Jason Williamson and producer/pint holder Andrew Fearn have produced molten hot electro-punk hits.

2017 sees the release of their fourth album English Tapas and if you thought there was a chance they might have mellowed you’d be very, very wrong. Opener Army Nights it’s very much Mods by numbers but it has it’s gems “They call me Dyson I fucking clean up”. Over a drum machine and a thudding bass line, it’s not a particularly dangerous start but it’s an assured one.

The bitter wit follows on Just Like We Do, it opens with Williams mocking pretentious music fans and mumbling about music recorded in the “black forests of Germany”. As Sleaford Mods first post-Brexit record it’d be rude for them to not acknowledge it and they do “Scratching my head as the people burn for what they wanted” sings Williams on Snout.

Nobody is safe from Williams laser sharp deconstruction of them, on Dull he takes aim at NME “Try scrolling down a website, the NME, without laughing, I’ll give you ten quid if you can keep a straight face, Honestly, just fucking try it, mate”. On BHS Williams kicks it up a gear and this time his eyes are fixed on the company’s owner Philip Green. “We’re goin down like BHS while the able bodied vultures monitor and pick at us” sings Williams.

Musically English Tapas can be a bit of a labour of love, Sleaford Mods are sadly victims of their own success and the simplicity that makes them so brilliant also leaves them a bit stuck. It does feel like the Mods are running out of ideas on this album but if you can see past that and appreciate the lyrics that are as brutal as ever then you can take something from this record. There’s no shortage of twats in the world and whilst they exist the Mods will call them out on it like nobody else can.

(Written by Jack Winstanley)