Saturday, 31 December 2011

Greater Manchester Music In 2012

Greater Manchester has always been associated with great music and 2012 seems set to continue the tradition of bands from the county dominating the charts and the UK music scene.

For a start, 2012 will mark the return of indie pop duo The Ting Tings. Despite having their début album 'We Started Nothing' chart at number one in the UK music charts after its release in 2008, the band evaded the public eye and their record label by disappearing across Europe following the culmination of their tour in 2009.
Now that the band have returned, they have announced that February 2012 will be the official release date of their long-awaited second album, 'Sounds From Nowheresville'. Only time will tell if the second album will propel the band skyward in the same way that their début album did. But judging by the reception to the release of single 'Hang It Up' in late 2011, 2012 could be the year that The Ting Tings return to the top of the charts.

Having spent 2011 at each other's throats in a very public way, the Gallagher brothers are most likely going to spend 2012 once again attempting to out-do one another.
In summer 2011 Noel Gallagher announced the formation of his new band, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, and the release of their eponymous début album later that same year. But he also mentioned that 2012 would be the year that a collaborative album between himself and electronic-psychedelic duo Amorphous Androgynous would see the light of day. After the massive mainstream success of the High Flying Birds' début album, there will be high expectations for the 2012 collaborative album.
The oft-outspoken, younger Gallagher brother has also hinted at plans for a 2012 album release with his post-Oasis band Beady Eye. In the summer of 2011, Liam Gallagher revealed that the band were working on new material that he believed would be ready for a mid-2012 release.
Is it mere coincidence that both Gallagher brothers are speaking of releasing albums around the same time? Probably not, but it will undoubtedly prove interesting for music fans.

The final reason why Greater Manchester will dominate the UK music scene in 2012 is due to the long-awaited, eagerly anticipated return of legendary Madchester group The Stone Roses in a series of colossal comeback shows at Manchester's Heaton Park.
After months of cryptic clues and rampant rumours, The Stone Roses announced in late 2011 that they would make their return to the stage in summer 2012.
The return of this legendary band has been something many music lovers have wanted to see since the band originally split in 1996 and their return cannot come at a better time. 2011 was the year that slower-tempo songs led to mainstream success with the rising of artists such as Adele and Ed Sheeran. With the return of The Stone Roses, 2012 could well be the year that energy and euphoria returns to the musical world.
In addition to this return, it was reported in December 2011 that the band had signed to UK and US record labels and were "recording songs during their rehearsals". The possibility of a third Stone Roses album is something that is guaranteed to interest music lovers and 2012 could be the year that Britain once again belongs to The Stone Roses.

One thing is for sure: Manchester looks set to be the heart of music in 2012.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Gig Review 16/12/11: Kerrang Xmas Party 2011

Birmingham has always been the home of metal, but last night it was the home to the Kerrang! christmas party.
The line up was a mix of rock genres that would attract a very mixed audience, with indie-punk headliners The Subways making strange bedfellows with fresh-faced pop-punk band Canterbury and post-hardcore outfit Funeral For A Friend.

Canterbury began the night with a commendable display of stage presence and musicianship, providing an energetic spectacle for the audience. While playing song after song of pop-punk energy, the band continually try to get the audience as involved as possible - all to little avail. The band started to capture the audience however by playing old favourite 'Gloria', which even singer/guitarist Mike Sparks commented would be the "poppiest song they'll play all night". However it was not until they performed latest single 'More Than Know' that the band managed to gain full control of the audience, with the whole venue bouncing along to every beat of the song.
Although this band is still a bit rough around the edges and possibly a bit out of their depth in a show like this, their potential and their enthusiasm are undeniable and worthy of note. Fans of pop-punk bands such as Youmeatsix will find this band a worthwhile listen. 

Funeral For A Friend are possibly the biggest name on the line-up, so it immediately raises questions as to why the band aren't the headline act. However, their set shows a clear indication as to why the band aren't the headliners tonight. Their energetic stage show and powerful vocals don't cover the fact that the audience just aren't responding well to their new songs. Despite the fact that the audience is jumping and even creating moshpits for the newer songs, it is on old songs 'Streetcar' and, in particular, the emotional rendition 'Roses For The Dead' that the audience truly comes alive and the air truly becomes electric.
They may be the biggest band on the line-up but their lacklustre performance shows why they are not the headliners.

The event really starts when The Subways take the stage. As soon as the first few notes of 'Oh Yeah' echo throughout the ballroom, the audience belongs to the band. Billy Lunn expertly keeps control of the audience through a set comprised of songs from all three of the band's albums, with only a handful of songs actually coming from the band's most recent album 'Money & Celebrity' - something perfectly suited to an event like this. Mid-set songs 'With You' and 'We Don't Need Money To Have A Good Time' show why the band are the headliners tonight: because they have energetic, crowd-pleasing songs reinforced by phenomenal stage presence that makes for an amazing spectacle.
The band end with an extended and very energetic rendition of 'It's A Party!', with Lunn crowdsurfing for several minutes before returning to the stage to bring the song, the performance and the night to a spectacular close.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Subways: 'Money & Celebrity' Album Review

The Subways haven't really achieved much since their first release ('Young For Eternity') in 2005. Despite their spectacular live shows (notably at Reading and Leeds festivals) and the fact their début album went gold, the band have been unable to get much more than a cult following. However, latest album 'Money & Celebrity' could be the album that changes all of that for the band.

Luckily for fans, this doesn't involve selling out in any way. The band doesn't stray too far from the formula that they have used on previous albums, with the album consisting of the usual mix of punk and indie songs that we've grown to expect from the band. There is in fact only one thing that make the third album different to any other album by the band, and that is the anthemic quality of the songs.

'It's A Party!' opens the album with its catchy lyrics and infectious beat, supported by one of the band's sleaziest riffs. This is followed by the album's lead single 'We Don't Need Money To Have A Good Time'; a song that sees the band at their most anthemic, with the chorus being a call to everybody to just enjoy life. Billy Lunn's snarled lyrics and punk guitar accentuate this chorus, making it all the more prevalent.

'Celebrity' is a straight-forward rock number, with a main guitar riff sounding not unlike a long-lost song by The Jam, and 'I Wanna Dance With You' is a subtly softer song that shows the band still have that softer side.

'Popdeath' is one of the more interesting songs on the album, combining both the band's softer and heavier sides together in a single track. It most certainly isn't the best song the band has ever produced, but it has a lot of room to grow live.

As we get half-way through the album, we find two songs that seem like they were written with the intention of being performed at arenas. 'Like I Love You' is an infectious song that contrasts downbeat lyrics with a very upbeat chorus melody, whereas 'Money' sounds like a song that was written during the 'Young For Eternity' sessions but has since developed into an anthemic punk-rock gem.

'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' and 'Down Our Street' are probably the worst songs on the album, with weak lyrics (with "Down our street/ Something's always happening/ [Doo doo doo]" from the latter being a fine example of why) and with instrumentation that lacks inspiration. However the band is forgiven for this after hearing 'Rumour', a song which has the potential to be great live and features some of the album's best lyrics, instrumentation and vocal harmonies. 'Friday' continues the level of quality by combining anthemic lyrics with a powerful guitar solo and instrumentation that will easily be the cause of quite a few moshpits.

The album concludes with the softer sounding 'Leave My Side', a song which is easily one of the band's finer soft moments. With a chorus constructed just for big venues and sing-a-longs, it is clear that this song is definitely going to be a stand-out track at shows.

Only time will tell whether this will be the moment the band get success and mainstream recognition at long last, but one thing is for sure: they most certainly deserve it. Fans of Green Day will not be disappointed by this album.