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Andrew Lockwood picks his favourite albums of 2015.
10. Belle & Sebastian - 'Girls In Peacetime'.
A glorious return to top form for Belle & Sebastian. 'Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance' contains all the bands trade mark signatures as well as introducing a few new ones. The generally up beat, playful tone of the album is full of pathos, dark humour and heartfelt musings. This is Belle & Sebastian back to their creative best. With an arty intellect and a wry take on life they have combined some of their most varied musical scores to date with more of their joyous lyrics.
9. Girl Band - 'Holding Hands With Jamie'.
A wake up call that needs to be heard. 'Holding Hands With Jamie' is a shot in the arm; a torrent of musical mayhem and magnificent noise. Distorted and unrelenting, 'Holding Hands..' is an unapologetic onslaught to the senses and a nerve tingling jolt of excitement. A quite brilliant debut.
Continue reading: Andrew Lockwood's Top 10 Albums Of 2015
Find out which artists have been nominated for a Brit Award (or three) this year.
The nominees have been announced for this year's Brit Awards, which will be presented live in a ceremony on ITV on the 19th February. The annual awards celebrate the year's biggest British music stars, in a competition that is as hotly contested as ever after a thrilling year in music.
Disclosure Could Be About To Get A Lot More Famous With Four Potential Brit Awards Headed Their Way.
Bastille and Disclosure have emerged as the early front-runners after netting four nominations apiece and will go head-to-head in the Mastercard British Album of the Year, British Breakthrough Act, British Single and British Group categories. Though both groups have enjoyed rocketing to success this year, Disclosure and their album Settle may have the edge due to having been also nominated for last year's Mercury Music Prize.
The self described voice of "urgent" and "reflective" music in the UK and Ireland has once again picked a predictable shortlist of albums for the once prestigious award
The Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize this week announce the shortlist for it's 12 favourite albums of the last 12 months, albums that it claims are "urgent" and are "reflective" of the evolving sound of contemporary music. Once a haven for alternative acts like Portishead and Gomez, this years awards once again have gone for the most obvious choices and rather than celebrate any "urgent" talent, artists that routinely play on the radio or television have been picked ahead of the Hookworms and Darkstars of the British and Irish music scene.
The Arctic Monkeys are hardly an "urgent" band
The Arctic Monkeys are now a bonafied rock staple, whilst Foals and Laura Marling have each been nominated in the past and are regularly given air time on 6 Music or Jools Holland, etc., not to mention the fact that Marling has been handed a BRIT Award too. As for newcomers Disclosure, Rudimental and Jake Bugg, neither are exactly challenging their respective fields of house, drum and bass and rockabilly, but simply making it more radio-friendly and pop accessible. This isn't a dig either, this is something that all three artists should openly agree with. As for David Bowie; he's David Bowie. Need we say more?
Continue reading: Mercury Prize Shortlist Announced, But Does It Even Matter Anymore?
This year’s contenders have just been announced, who will succeed from Alt-J?
The Barclaycard Mercury Prize nominations have come round again, designed to celebrate this year's best British musical offerings. Last year we saw Alt-J with An Awesome Wave take home the coveted music industry prize and have since seen them go on from strength to strength with full UK touring and an extensive festival diary as the indie quartet revelled in the exposure the annual awards had brought them and their infectious, enthralling debut.
Last Year's Winners, Alt-J, Benefitted From The Prize.
This year's nominees, as announced this very evening predictably include Arctic Monkey's AM, Disclosure's Settle, David Bowie's The Next Day, and Foals' Holy Fire. However the other choices include Laura Marling's Once I Was An Eagle, Jake Bugg's self-titled debut, and Laura Mvula's Sing To The Moon - all pleasing choices which will make for an interesting and unpredictable race to the 30th October awards show.
Leatherette and Walk Off The Earth release impressive albums while Lil Wayne endures another turbulent few days in our week in music
A Week In Videos... She might have just wrapped up her Set The World On Fire tour, but the promotional drive for Alicia Keys fifth album Girl On Fire rolls on, with the multi-million selling songstress putting out a video for the third single from the 2012 Billboard number one LP. The video for 'New Day' sees clips of studio-shot footage of Keys dancing down back alleys, interspersed with footage of the star performing live in various instances. Given that her last single Brand New Me reached a meagre 103 at the tale of end of 2012 in America, it's going to be hard for 'New Day' to make much of an impact.
Kurt Vile's Wakin On A Pretty Daze was his most commercially successful album yet, going close to the top 40 in the UK and making 47 on the US Billboards. Yet the American psych-wizard is about more than sales figures, and pleasingly his fifth album also perhaps marks his most accomplished to-date, a record of dreamy soundscapes and hazy Americana tale-telling. Given the woozy nature of 'Never Run Away,' we wonder just exactly what that smoke coming out of the bus at the beginning of the video is...
21 years old. 3rd solo album. 2 Mercury nominations. Winner of a Best Female Brit and numerous other awards. Former member of Noah & The Whale and with a rich stream of interesting collaborative ventures, including those with The Rakes and Mystery Jets, already behind her. Still just 21 years old. (You need to adopt a Greg Wallace accent for the next sentence) Singer song writers don't come better than this.
Continue reading: Laura Marling, A Creature I Don't Know Album Review
Laura Marling's recent history is a public one, so requires a brief recap only for those who inhabit planet chart. Discovered at the tender age of sixteen through MySpace, she initially worked with Noah & The Whale, whose Charlie Fink produced her first album, 2008's Mercury Nominated Alas, I Cannot Swim. Fink duly became her ex significant other (Replaced by Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons) and proceeded to base his band's second album The First Days of Spring on the couple's break up, sieving every last dolorous pebble of heartbreak through angst ridden filters. The results paradoxically transformed their standing overnight from twonky nitwits into serious artists to be reckoned with. Hey ho.
In interviews Ms.Marling has made it very clear that she wishes the salacious gossips would disappear up their own bouzoukis, but in the mundanity of the folk world you suspect her pair bonding with the mandolin-toting Mumford has created a relationship perceived somewhat like that of the young Kennedy's; bright, beautiful and full of eternal promise. Certainly his own band are guilty of producing one of last year's best and most original British albums in Sigh No More, and although Alas, I Cannot Swim eventually succumbed in the Mercury stakes to Elbow, it contained more than enough promise to enable critics to file her newest release under 'Highly anticipated'.
Whether her audience believe it disappoints will be largely down to how they handle her obvious songwriting progression; the gap between sixteen and twenty as the singer has said is like a chasm in anyone's life. I Speak Because I Can accordingly finds her moving deftly from the politics of the self to that of gender, pondering femininity but not from a strictly feminist point of view. Given that either of these words would appear to be strictly career limiting for all but a few female artists, it's a logical but inestimably brave step for the fledgling career of a woman so young.
Inevitably where the instrumental backdrop is frequently little more than a gently sublime acoustic guitar the listener's attention spends more time focussing on the voice and the words; of the former I'd defy anyone to blindfold-guess that a tone with such richness, character and idiosyncrasy could belong to a woman who in the real world would barely have started university. Of the latter there is noticeably more by way of depth this time round. Slow burning opener 'Devil's Spoke', with banjo whirling furiously in the background even finds Marling indulging in the sins of the flesh, her alter-ego lustfully mouthing 'Eye to eye/Nose to nose/Ripping off each other's clothes'.
Elsewhere there is affection bordering on sentimentality on 'Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)', the singer proclaiming a love for our sceptred isle in 'I will come back here/Bring me back when I'm old/I want to lay here/forever in the cold'. Marling proceeds to turn the song into an eskimo kiss for her homeland, and with a sense of irony creates I Speak Because I Can's warmest moment. If the heart of that woman is overflowing with affection, that of the title's tracks narrator is smothered in bitterness; the opening line is the starkly matter-of-fact 'My husband left me last night' before spitting out a bitter verdict on the ethos of an abruptly terminated marriage: 'I cooked the meals while he got the life'.
If all of this is conveying the impression that 'I Speak Because I Can' is like a musical version of The Female Eunuch being played by a Sandy Denny tribute act, then please forgive me. In fact it's a record full of an energy and insight that's practically unique in modern entertainment circles. Whether this will convince any of the X-Factor crowd to turn away from the dark side is highly debatable, but the rewards for them are there, along with the listening challenge.
Date of birth
1st February, 1990
Performing "live" for @TimeOutMexico tonight at 8pm CST. Tune in: https://t.co/s25DXbJ7tQ https://t.co/Ho3qjoRgQx
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Isolation Guitar Tutorial no.14: Song For Our Daughter/Strange Girl. Tuning:DADGBD. Tonight at 7pm bst, 2pm est, Live on Instagram x
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'Fortune' - live on Later... with #JoolsHolland (from isolation) on @BBCTwo. Watch the full performance back on… https://t.co/PSHpaN79Qq
Song For Our Daughter. Track Eight - The End Of The Affair. https://t.co/tu8jnaJTWJ https://t.co/kW3NnYll5w
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Isolation Guitar Tutorial no.13 live at 7pm BST, 2pm EST: Fortune - Standard Tuning (no doubt as hard to teach as i… https://t.co/BlIXMnpi0k
Song For Our Daughter. Track Seven - Fortune. https://t.co/jjMYGTBDMW https://t.co/jQvxZV1JGX
Tonight would have been the last night of the 🇺🇸 🇨🇦 tour. Gonna play the set I had planned for this 🇺🇸 🇨🇦 run, June… https://t.co/rwkuvJHkNN
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Song For Our Daughter. Track Five - Blow By Blow. https://t.co/i15jkL4AiU https://t.co/H5hdShc6Gu
Follow up for Isolation Guitar Tutorial no.11: Once DGDGBD up now on IGTV https://t.co/yA3TFSVedT
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Live mini concert on @blogotheque Instagram in 15 - followed by guitar tutorial for ‘Once’ back home at 7pm x