It’s been a pretty hectic year so far in the music world. Liam Gallagher has sold out arenas for the first time since Oasis split in 2009, Ryan Adams has cancelled the release of his three new albums following allegations of sexual misconduct being made against him, and Slipknot have released their heaviest track since Iowa whilst also losing another member of the band!
As we’re now over halfway through 2019 and I haven’t written about even a fraction of the new music I’ve been listening to, I thought I would do a review of the year so far, including my favourite releases, gigs I’ve been to and artists I’ve discovered.
1. Sons of the East – I’ve only properly listened to their EP Burn Right Through, which was released in May, but I’m really looking forward to diving further into this band’s catalogue! Keep Running is a particularly great track, but hats off to the Australian folk-indie band for producing such a great collection of songs!
2. Judah & The Lion – admittedly I’m still on the fence about this band, who categorise themselves as Folk, Hop n’ Roll…but their song ‘Why Did You Run?’ from the latest album Pep Talks is possibly my favourite new song of the year! The track has a deep and personal meaning behind it for the lead singer, which he talks about during their interview on the Bobby Bones Show, and is masked by upbeat, catchy instrumentals.
3. Dylan LeBlanc – I came across Dylan LeBlanc just by chance and added Renegade to the AS4S New Music playlist. It took me a few listens to get into the track, but his haunting vocals coupled with the atmospheric stadium rock sound now has me hooked. LeBlanc released his album of the same name in June and is definitely worth a listen!
4. Yungblud – Yorkshire lad Dom Harrison, better known as Yungblud, has been on my radar for a little while now, but it was only recently that I first listened to any of his music. What caught my eye (and ears) was his collaboration with Travis Barker and Machine Gun Kelly on I Think I’m Okay earlier in the year, which is brilliant! I also enjoyed his duet with partner Halsey on 11 Minutes and his solo track Loner.
5. Grayscale – for a short while it looked like the pop-punk scene was on its way to making a proper comeback, and Grayscale were a big part of this. I’m ashamed to say that I only started listening to them a couple of months ago though, following the release of their new singles Painkiller Weather and In Violet, which are undeniably catchy!
Other artists I’ve listened to for the first time this year and feel deserve a mention are:
- Little Chief (album – Lion’s Den)
- The Native Sibling (album – Letters Kept to Ourselves)
- FEVER 333
- Gerry Cinnamon (anyone who listens to Radio X will be well aware of this guy!)
- The Night Café
- Midnight Oil
- Gang of Youths (check out a live version of their song Blood with Mumford and Sons on YouTube!)
- The Trials of Cato (song – Gloria)
- Swim School
- BAILEN (song – Something Tells Me)
1. Let’s Rock – Black Keys (album) – after taking a break to work on other projects and spend time with family, the duo are back together despite their rumoured differences, which have since been squashed in an interview, and released an outstanding album. I listened to all the singles in the run up to the release of Let’s Rock and not one of them let me down. The album doesn’t just ride on the singles either…check out opening track Shine A Little Light to remind you that rock n roll is very much still alive!
Top tracks: Shine A Little Light, Go, Fire Walk With Me
2. We Are Not Your Kind (Slipknot) – having only been released on Friday the album is still fresh and I’m still shaping my opinion, but after the first few listens I am very, very impressed. Slipknot spent a long time perfecting this album and even tinkered with the idea of a double album at one stage, but the hard work has paid off and what’s left is a hard-hitting, brutal, personal album that will go down in history as one of their best, which at this stage in their career is fantastic. WANYK is a work of art and should be listened to from start to finish in order to be fully appreciated.
Top tracks: Solway Firth, Unsainted, Nero Forte
3. So What? (While She Sleeps) – the fourth full-length album by While She Sleeps sees the band go in a slightly different direction, and I like it! As a fairly new fan still I’m just taking the album for what it is and not comparing it to their previous work, but the combo of funky beats with Loz’ screaming hits the mark for me. There’s a tasty little feature from Shvpes’ vocalist Griffin (who recently stepped in for Loz on their Australian dates supporting Architects) on Back Of My Mind too!
Top tracks: So What?, Elephant, Back Of My Mind
4. You’re Stronger Than You Know – James Morrison – I spent many a long journey up to Scotland as a kid listening to James Morrison’s first two albums and actually quite enjoying them (any alternative to Westlife’s greatest hits is a relief though)! So whenever James Morrison releases new music I like to give it a listen for nostalgic reasons….however, You’re Stronger Than You Know really took me by surprise and sees Morrison at his best at times! If this had been released in 2004 it would have been a commercial success, but nonetheless it is a fantastic record and one I’ll happily put on if I ever see myself on a 10 hour drive to Scotland again.
Top tracks: So Beautiful, Power, Until The Stars Go Out
5. Order In Decline (Sum 41) – for those of you who have read any of my previous posts, you’ll know that I was looking forward to the release of Order In Decline so much that I spent the weeks leading up to it listening to all of Sum 41’s other albums and eventually ranking them. I now know where I would rank Order In Decline, but I’ll reveal all when I update the ‘Sum 41 Albums Ranked’ post. All I’ll say is…this is a really strong, gritty album with clear purpose and drive, and it’s refreshing to see a band stick to what they want to write and not cave in to commercial pressure!
Top Tracks: Out For Blood, Never There, Heads Will Roll
1. Shockwave, The River, Once (Liam Gallagher) this is slightly cheating as I’ve included all three of Liam’s singles from his upcoming second solo album Why Me, Why Not? but I’ve really enjoyed all of them for different reasons and couldn’t pick one! Shockwave is an instant classic, and it’s nice to see the producers not being afraid to add more electric guitar (which was obvious in As You Were); Once is a heartfelt ballad and clearly already a fan favourite; and The River’s thudding beat offers a different element to the table. Bring on the album!
2. She’s A God (Neck Deep) they’re back! The kings of modern pop-punk released their new single in June, and it sees Neck Deep doing what they do best – having fun! I must admit that I’m not sure I prefer it to the singles from The Peace and the Panic…but, it was certainly stuck in my head for a good few days and I’m really looking forward to what the next single!
3. Hollywood Whore (Machine Gun Kelly) – MGK’s release of ‘Rap Devil’ during his feud with Eminem this time last year (almost) was quite entertaining, but didn’t get me listening to any of his other tracks. I came across Hollywood Whore after listening to I Think I’m Okay and it genuinely surprised me. Nu Metal is one of my favourite genres, and while this song isn’t typical of the genre, it’s a reminder (and even has a small tribute to Chester Bennington in the video) that rap and rock works so well. Unfortunately the rest of the album didn’t follow suit, but hats off to MGK for putting himself out there and experimenting.
4. Balance, Not Symmetry (Biffy Clyro) – when I read that this song would be part of the soundtrack to a film of the same name, co-written by frontman Simon Neil, I was instantly intrigued. Biffy is a band I’ve never really been a huge fan of, but for some reason this song really clicked with me. It has so many layers, and I like that I don’t quite know where it’s going to go next, but it also has a big, classic Biffy-style chorus.
5. Save Me (Homesafe) – the boys from Homesafe released one of my favourite tracks of 2018 with Run, and they’ve done it again this year! Save Me has a chorus that’s so catchy you’ll find yourself singing it in your sleep! It also has strong vocals and poignant lyrics which are particular highlights for me. Once again, bring on the album!
Other songs that have really caught my attention this year:
- On The Luna – Foals
- Renegade – Dylan LeBlanc
- Out of the Blue – Mike and the Mechanics
- Laurel Wreath – Bear’s Den
- Rebel Girl – Angels and Airwaves
- I Guess I Just Feel Like – John Mayer
- Summer Days – Martin Garrix, Patrick Stump, Mackelmore
- Your Girlfriend – Blossoms
- Darkside, Happy Days – Blink-182
- Harmony Hall – Vampire Weekend
- I Don’t Care – Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber (guilty pleasure…)
- Tokyo – White Lies
- Hey, Ma – Bon Iver
- So Good Looking – The Kooks
- The Wolves – Mandolin Orange
- This Ol’ World – Chris Sheflett
- Money – Michael Kiwanuka (feat. Tom Misch)
- Robin Williams, Lover – Noah Gundersen
- The 1975 /Greta Thunberg collaboration: In July The 1975 released a song with teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has become a global icon over the past year, to raise awareness of the dangers of climate change. There’s no doubt that climate change is becoming a larger part of the political agenda, and quite rightly so, but there is a lot to be said for musicians who use their influence to relay positive and important messages. The 1975 have done that with this track, titled The 1975, and despite reports that big artists refused to work with Greta, let’s hope this track helps pave the way for more musicians to relay the importance of acting on climate change.
- Mumford and Sons, Barcelona: I’ve been to quite a few Mumford and Sons gigs over the past 12 months, but none of them beats their show at the Palau Saint Jordi in Barcelona in April. The walk from the hotel to the arena was fantastic; watching the sun set over the city on a warm spring evening, a feeling of excitement as we joined more and more fans the closer we got to the venue. We were greeted with a queue as far as the eye could see, but devastation shortly turned into relief and we were in before they started. The set was fantastic, the production was so well thought out, and their cover of Blood with support act Gang of Youths was a particular highlight of the evening!
- Blink-182 summer tour: I think most Blink fans were taken aback when they announced that they would be heading out over the summer on a co-headline tour with…Lil Wayne! There has been proof in the past that mixing genres in a tour lineup can work, but it really hasn’t been the case for this tour. Not only did ticket sales prove to be slow, which resulted in Blink later deciding to turn the tour into an Enema of the State 20th Anniversary tour to help boost sales, but only two weeks into the tour Lil Wayne stormed off stage threatening to quit the tour as the crowds were too small. Hopefully Blink will bring the Enema anniversary tour to the UK, but leaving Lil Wayne behind…
- Midnight Oil @ Brixton Academy: Admittedly I wouldn’t normally find myself rushing to buy tickets to see Australian classic rockers Midnight Oil, but seeing as my Dad’s 60th birthday was creeping up and they are one of his favourite bands from when he was living out in Perth in the 70s and 80s, it seemed fitting that I took him to see them at Brixton Academy. I was a bit cheeky and looked up their tour setlist beforehand to familiarise myself with their music, but this lead to a bit of amusement when my Dad thought I’d correctly predicted their opening song despite knowing none of their music! Seriously though, I had so much fun and thought the band sounded really tight and energetic. There were clearly some backing tracks going on, but you can’t have it all!
- BMTH @ All Points East: London’s All Points East festival is spread out over a couple of weeks and secures some pretty big names – this year I was fortunate enough to go to not one, not two, but three days! I was a bit sceptical beforehand as there had been numerous complaints about the sound from the week before (including the Strokes’ set), but the first day I attended was awesome! Nothing But Thieves, While She Sleeps and Architects did a sterling job warming up the crowd, and we were even treated to a guest appearance from Olly on While She Sleeps’ Silence Speaks, before Bring Me The Horizon took to the main stage for their first festival headline set. Olly’s voice has clearly become worn over the years and that’s no secret, and there was a lot of new material, but they put on such an entertaining show and still managed to throw in a few old tracks for the die hards too! Are they setting their eyes on Reading and Leeds now?
- Ryan Adams allegations: Back in February the New York Times published an article accusing the singer-songwriter of sexual misconduct and emotional abuse. Adams is my favourite artist and for a long time was my inspiration when writing music, so this is a difficult subject for me to approach and one I haven’t yet written about. The report resulted in a cancelled tour, cancelled releases for three upcoming album, and radio silence for almost six months until he resurfaced on social media last month promising an explanation soon. A low point of the year for me personally.
- Solo music: I’d like to end this mammoth mid-year review on a positive note and a little bit of self-promotion! One of my biggest passions in life is writing, recording and performing music. I don’t perform nearly as much as I’d like to, but in January I released original music for the first time in over two and a half years with a 4-track EP titled New Life. The EP can be found on Bandcamp and is my first attempt at writing rock songs solo – if you have time give it a listen! I clearly had momentum after sharing New Life because in April I went on to release an acoustic covers EP – James Taylor, The Beatles, A Star Is Born, and Slipknot – simple but fun. I’m now working on my first full-length album; it’s something I’m not going to rush, but I can’t wait to finish writing it and start recording!