amiusefulTITLE: Am I Useful?
BAND: We Came From Wolves
LABEL: Saraseto Records
RELEASED: March 30th 2015

Up-and-coming alternative band We Came From Wolves will release their catchy new single next week. The Scottish foursome are currently touring their homeland in support of it but the song has already received critical acclaim from Rocksound, who summed it up with “Feels, hooks and more feels”.

The band’s debut EP Cope was released in 2012 and earned them airplay on Radio 1’s Introducing. Last year’s EP, Paradise Place received rave reviews from Rocksound and at Radio 1. Since then, they have supported Frightened Rabbit and Irish rockers And So I Watch You From Afar, as well as putting in appearances at T In The Park and Wickerman Festival last summer. However, their new single Am I Useful? casts a light on their self-doubt. Frontman Kyle James Burgess said:

WCFW600x250“Am I Useful? is about the doubts that creep into my head in direct conflict with my aspirations. Anyone trying to pursue a life doing what they love faces these fears, that the goal might never be achieved, and a more “ordinary” life may await…it’s facing up to those fears and earnestly asking myself the question of “what use would I have if not creating?”

A strong growling intro gives way to Kyle’s soft melody and melancholy lyrics while strong drums and singing riffs frame the powerful message. The hook gets you right away and is reminiscent of later Kids In Glass Houses. The whining guitar solo before the final chorus adds to the emotional atmosphere and the words speak to anyone who is trying their hardest to live their dream. The stuttered ending gives it more of an edge too. We Came From Wolves have that accessible sound that is perfect for lighting up festivals.

Catchy, energetic and a lot of big-hit potential, We Came From Wolves are a band who have a lot to give to those who have a KIGH hole in their lives. There is a touch of heavier bands to their sound too but they’ve definitely come along at just the right time!

 

 

untitledTITLE: Only Ever Yours
AUTHOR: Louise O’Neill
EDITION: Quercus
PUBLISHED: July 3rd 2014

Dystopian, young-adult and feminist literature are three of the biggest current trends in books, so a novel that sits in all three genres is bound to be a big seller. Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours is exactly that. Last week, it won the first ever YA Book Prize and here’s why.

Frieda lives in a world where baby girls are not born but bred in schools. They spend their first 16 years training to be companions to men. Frieda and her classmates are about to take their final test to prove that they have achieved the ideal level of beauty required to be chosen by the sons of influential men. For the girls who don’t make the cut, life as a concubine or chastity awaits. Frieda and her best friend Isabel are among the highest ranking girls in their year and destined for companionship with the highest ranking boys of their age. However, the pressures of final year kick in and Isabel begins to gain weight, letting her rankings slip. Frieda leaves Isabel behind and joins forces with the other high-ranking girls and catches the eye of beautiful Darwin but at graduation, some dark realities materialise. Talking about her inspiration behind it, Louise said:

“When I re-read Only Ever Yours, I could see how a myriad of my life experiences had influenced the book. I was educated in a single sex convent from the age from 4 to 18 so I was very familiar with that dynamic. It was when I spent time in India in 2006 that I became aware of a gender imbalance favouring men due to a high rate of death in female infants. I read a book called May You Be the Mother of A Hundred Sons and I think that was a huge influence on me. I didn’t have the idea for the book until January 2011. I was in a Starbucks in New York reading a trashy gossip magazine that had red circles of shame drawn around cellulite or muffin tops on female celebrities. A vision flared in my mind – it was of a young girl in a bikini standing in front of a classroom of about 30 girls. An older woman was drawing around her ‘defective’ body parts with a red marker. And it came to me – a world in which women are bred for their beauty. A world in which women are unable to bear daughters naturally.”

It has been described as a cross between the Lindsay Lohan film Mean Girls and Margaret Atwood’s dystopia The Handmaid’s Tale and anyone who knows of these creations will notice the similiarities. Anyone vaguely well-versed in today’s pop culture will also notice numerous references to recognisable figures. Several characters in the novel are clearly based on supermodels and actresses of today. Cara has distinguishing eyebrows much like supermodel Cara Delevingne, Angelina has an enviable pout reminiscent of Angelina Jolie and queen bee Megan bears a striking resemblance to actress Megan Fox. Even Frieda herself has brown skin and long dark hair like Slumdog Millionaire actress Frieda Pinto. The boys are named after philosophers and great thinkers such as Darwin (Charles), Abraham (Lincoln) and Isaac (Newton) which illustrates how society
perceives men (strong minds) and women (beautiful faces).

Many issues are brought up in the novel, namely feminism and offers a dark but sadly realistic look at how women are typically seen. To some, it may seem an old-fashioned view to have in 2015 but we still live in a world where women are judged chiefly on their looks. Celebrity magazines and
tabloid newspapers are still ‘rating and slating’ outfits and their weight is still scrutinised. Women may be writing revolutionary books and speaking out against issues that affect them but Only Ever Yours reminds us that fundamentally, all some readers care about is what diet these women are on.

The link between social media and having unattainable goals is also addressed in Only Ever Yours. The girls are obsessed with a social network called ‘MyFace’ and use it to post mundane updates about every detail of their lives. They constantly compare each other’s photos and seethe with jealousy if one of them is looking better than they are. Sadly, this is straight from reality. These girls exist and it’s only when you realise this that the true tragedy of Only Ever Yours resonates. It is a work of fiction firmly embedded in reality.

On what’s to come from this exciting new YA author, Louise said: “My next novel is called Asking For It. It will be published by Quercus on September 3rd. It’s set in a small town in Ireland and deals with rape culture, victim blaming, and the fixation our society has on female sexuality, particularly in young girls.”

different

 

Hello to anyone who may be reading this.

Those of you who used to read this blog regularly may have wondered where I’ve been for the last five months. The answer is nowhere apart from a small pit of stress and despair.

Showmesomethingdifferent used to be a daily review site for music, films and books. The posts then began to fizzle out until it got to the point where I had posted nothing for a very very long time. For those of you who enjoyed these posts, I apologise wholeheartedly but my reasons for doing so were pretty serious, I can assure you.

As well as being incredibly busy over the Christmas period working long hours in retail, I then spent the entirety of January until the beginning of March on a magazine journalism course. It was a very intensive nine weeks (six days a week) and I really did not have any time at all to do anything that I wanted to do, let alone blog.

Which brings me to my next point: It’s true that I began the blog as something that would allow me to showcase my work to potential employers. However, as I was running it for free, it had to be a bit more than that -it had to be fun. For a long while it was and I really didn’t mind taking an hour or so out of every day (every day) to write a review. However, as I began getting more and more PRs and artists/bands interested in being featured, it got a bit much for the one-woman-show that Showmesomethingdifferent has always been. It started not being fun because I felt under pressure to listen and review music that I would never normally listen to and actually had no desire to review.

I have never been a fan of websites who seem to be able to “review” whole albums in 150 words. Big famous names do it and I hate them for it because I believe that reviews should be detailed, informative articles. In my opinion, simply saying “This was awesome” or “This was crap” is not enough for either the readers or the artists who have taken the time to make that album. You have to say why it was good or bad and give enough information about what the music is about, where it sits in the artist’s career and what tastes it suits. This means that my reviews are always quite long and are packed with information about what the music is actually made up of as opposed to just my opinion on it.

Reviews also have to be balanced which is why I am sad to say that I can no longer accept requests to review from certain artists. As I run this blog for free (now without a job alongside it), I won’t take the time out to review genres of music that I just wouldn’t normally listen to. I just don’t enjoy some genres and therefore it’s very difficult for me to force myself to listen to them in their entirety (which is what I believe all good reviewers should do) and I can no longer write about them.

Unsigned artists or bands who wish to be featured on Showmesomethingdifferent will now be very carefully selected but in order to be considered, they must fall within the following genres: pop, alternative rock, pop-punk, indie, acoustic. I understand that some acts will not fall definitely into any particular genre but they must have an element of one of these five genres in order to be considered.

I will still occasionally write about big releases from the genres I am not accepting as I still want to give my analysis on them and stay relevant. Book and film reviews will all be big releases, so please do not send any requests for me to review or feature any independent films or books.

I hope you can all understand. I have missed blogging terribly but writing about things I wasn’t enjoying got me down. It would be a different story if I was being paid to run the blog but I can’t do things that I don’t want to do for free anymore.

Thanks and love to you all,

Alex x

Taylor_Swift_-_1989TITLE: 1989
ARTIST: Taylor Swift
LABEL: Big Machine
RELEASED: October 27th 2014

After a two year wait, the fifth Taylor Swift album is finally here. Her last album Red was the record that really made me take notice of Taylor and since its October 2012 release, it has become one of my favourite albums ever. So you’d think that Ms Swift had a lot to live up to in my eyes and indeed she did. However, I have developed a deep love for both her music and her personality over the last couple of years and I had little reason to believe that 1989 was going to be anything other than another amazing record.

The album’s lead single Shake It Off was released last month and it was the most solid evidence yet of Taylor’s departure from the country girl who began her career in 2006 at the tender age of 17. Of course, Red showcased the undeniable pop sound of We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together and 22 and indeed, Taylor’s albums have always shown a growing process that means she evolves with everything she puts out. 1989 is no different. This time, we see a more mysterious, quirky and synth-led pop sound. While writing the album, Taylor said last year: “There are probably seven or eight songs that I know I want on the record. It has already evolved into a new sound, and that’s all I wanted.” Confessing that she was inspired by late 80s pop such as Madonna and Annie Lennox while writing 1989, Taylor picked her birth year as the title saying: “There were a few artists in the late 80s who I think made the most incredible, bold, risky decisions as far as pop music goes. They were really ahead of their time.”

taylorswiftOpening with a vibrant exciting track called Welcome To New York, 1989 gets off to a youthful start which incorporates intricate synth patterns and a thumping electro beat. These are common motifs on the album and characterise Taylor’s new sound. Her vocals have an echo to them which is another continuing theme as is the ridiculously catchy melody. It moves on to Blank Space, which is one of my favourite tracks on the album. The lyrics really show how far Taylor has come in the maturity process. Rather than gushing about how perfect a relationship will be, Blank Space suggests uncertainty about how things will pan out. This is obviously influenced by her romantic past and it has a much more realistic attitude to love than her earlier music. It has a simple beat and is very focused on the lyrics, which show a confident girl who has insecurities -something every fan listening will relate to.

Style has a funky riff and a disco-esque beat running through it with a chorus that no one will refuse a dance to. It’s about being part of a perfect power couple and has an infectious kooky slant that has a certain amount of darkness underneath it. Towards the end, Taylor’s vocals soar and it ends on an explosive rendition of the incredibly catchy chorus once again. Out Of The Woods is the perfect track for a live show as the chorus is a chant that simply has to be shouted en masse. The electro chimes, synths and breathy vocals suggested a little influence from Taylor’s friend Ellie Goulding and it could indeed sit on a Goulding album comfortably. There are lines which could only refer to One Direction’s ladies’ man Harry Styles who Taylor had a brief relationship with at the end of last year -“Your necklace round my neck… Two paper aeroplanes flying”, which is a nod to the matching necklaces that Taylor and Harry were seen wearing during their romance.

Another song about a broken relationship is All You Had To Do Was Stay, in which the lover wants her back. A rising electric shimmer kicks it off and a sweet girly melody carries it along. There is a catchy chanting hook that will no doubt make it a crowd pleaser and simple backing that again pushes the focus on to the lyrics and story. I Wish You Would is a song full of regret but set to a cheerful bubbly rhythm and beat. It’s fast-paced and kooky both in vocal delivery and backing with slower, dramatic choruses and catchy runs that reminded me of the uniqueness of Haim. It runs into Bad Blood, which is full of angst and darkness. The acapella opening is followed by a strong drum and low creeping vocals. It’s very simplistic but the venom in the lyrics is what shines through, giving it a strong dramatic place on the album.

Taylor also demonstrates her ethereal mystical side on Wildest Dreams which has echoes of another 80s pop legend Kate Bush. The eerie haunting synths and ghostly vocals with deep, feminine sighs put me in mind of Wuthering Heights. The atmosphere is so strong and mysterious and the images it paints are so pretty. This Love is a similar situation, where we see Taylor take us into a world of dreams and wonder on a cloud of peaceful riffs and strong dark drums. Her vocals are stripped right down to the simplest whispers but at times take off into the soundscape. This is before the darkness of I Know Places, which is all about the struggle to find privacy as a celebrity particularly when it comes to dating. A dark piano and stuttering vocals on the verse give way to the open ethereal chorus which is the gateway to the chilled atmospheric sound that the song adopts. It’s almost like it has found its own private place where no one can hunt it down and now it’s free to relax.

Yet more electronic synth work is displayed on How You Get The Girl, which is a must-listen guide for men everywhere. It has a laid-back summer vibe and is the closest that 1989 gets to the old Taylor Swift. However, the synths are still there and it’s an upbeat youthful track that would do well as a single. The closing track Clean is another favourite of mine. The synths take on a quirky clockwork vibe that exudes a certain magic. It’s about the end of a relationship that meant a great deal and the process of forgetting that person. The lyrics are wonderfully poetic and the weary sighs make it a relaxing track that is perfect for winding down to.

All in all, there are a few songs on 1989 that I really love and will definitely become regular plays for me. I do prefer Red as an album in its entirety as I love songs such as All Too Well and I Almost Do that have notes which are real belters. However, Taylor really can do little wrong in my opinion. Her new sound certainly suits her very well and is much more grown-up than the fairytale country-pop that she is best known for but who knows what the next Swift album will have in store?

140904_AlbumCover_Outlines_ER_v6TITLE: Outlines
BAND: Hearts Under Fire
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: October 13th 2014

Without a doubt, this is the most anticipated release of the year for me. It is the first full-length Hearts Under Fire album and is the follow-up to 2012’s EP We’ve Come Too Far To Live In The Past. The wait has been too long and I am so excited to say that it is finally arriving on Monday. I posted an acoustic video of the band performing their latest single Knots and the track was a teaser for the album which really is worth the two year wait.

After first seeing this all-girl rock outfit live at the beginning of 2012 when they supported Illinois pop-punks Mest in East London, Hearts Under Fire sucked me into their crazy rock-on world and I’ve been a big fan of theirs ever since. Their previous EPs Letters and We’ve Come Too Far To Live In The Past were full of melodic choruses and crashing instrumentals that would hook onto your ears and never let go. Each of their previous releases have shown that Hearts Under Fire are great at the big loud alternative anthems as well as the soulful downbeat ballads and Outlines is a continuation of that.

Beginning with lead single Knots, it gets off to a kick-ass feminine start. Mary’s melodic vocals soar above the fuzzy guitars and tapping drums. So much soul and passion is thrown into the atmospheric single which features an explosive instrumental around the perfectly crafted lyrics. “My tongue is tied too tight, there are knots in my stomach. I just can’t cough it up or cut it out” is a feeling that so many people recognise and can relate to. It leads into the attitude-filled Colours with its soaring riffs and pop-punk rhythm. Slamming guitars and crashing drums match the haunting beautiful vocal which is echoed with Kitty’s backing. It’s a song that is full of emotion and spunk, which is ideal for singing along to when you’re feeling a bit angsty.

derekbremner.com 0889_Yet more passion is injected into the vocals on The Things You Do To Keep Yourself Amused, a fast and furious track full of girl power. Packed full of energy in the growling riffs and catchy rhythm, it’s another big punchy hit for the band. Sharks continues in the same vein with its mechanical guitar and steady drum. The vocals take on a darker, lower tone but fly again in the chorus. It’s a big pop-rock anthem with an instrumental including thumping drums and suspense-building guitars.

Another earworm on Outlines is Cry Baby. A fuzzy retro riff kicks it off and the vocal takes on a sultry slant over the top of the classic alternative rock guitar slides. The rhythm is full of old soul and on the chorus, the vocal has a great vintage soul tone to it. With the catchy hook, you’ll be singing along to it in no time. Ever the experts on writing songs that bury their way into your brain, False Hope is yet another one. Fierce drumming from Lexi and crashing metallic guitars from Nicky and Kitty back the gentle melody while giving way to the subtle harmonies.

Perhaps my favourite track on the album is This Can’t Be Love. The lyrics are so well written and illustrate exactly how it feels to be confused about your feelings for someone. “But you get me worked up, so intense. This can’t be love, it makes no sense. I can taste you on the tip of my tongue. Is this how we felt when we were young?” is possibly my favourite chorus on the album, purely because it’s so easy beautifully put. Added to that, the incredibly catchy dark riff that recurs throughout the track and it’s a very pretty, emotional track that has so much heart. It’s followed by the philosophical Serotonin Blues, which is begun with a frantic instrumental and taken on by another gravity defying vocal decorated with spiralling riffs.

The album comes to an explosive end with Lines and Slow It Down. Lines begins with a simple tap of the drumsticks and some loud and proud guitars. The vocals are offset with the instruments giving it a chaotic feel and there is a link back to the beginning of Knots with the reference to lines on the skin. The harmonies accompany the catchy hook and make it an atmospheric track that is perfect for crowd-pleasing. Closing with Slow It Down hints at a calm ending but it is in fact a solid rock anthem. Finishing as they started with ferocious instruments and impressive vocal licks, Hearts Under Fire have treated us to an album full of their signature angsty rock with the right amount of emotion and rawness.

So there are no swaying romantic ballads a la 1968 from their last EP on Outlines but it’s far from simply an angry series of digs at those that have wronged them. It’s an album full of songs that deal with a variety of issues that many people can relate to and it visits many different emotions from anger to fear to confusion and even heartbreak. Hearts Under Fire are a band who will always produce songs that resonate with me. I just hope it’s not too long to wait for another release!

Since forming possibly the most hyped pop-rock supergroup ever last year, McBusted are yet to release any new material under their new guise. After playing both Busted and McFly’s best-loved hits on their sell-out tour this spring, Air Guitar is the first official McBusted song to see the light of day. It will be released on November 23rd with a self-titled debut album to follow in December. A booming electronic fuzz and quirky squeaks back this gem of a pop song which follows the same vein as classic Busted tracks -nerd championing and having fun no matter how much of a loser you might be. Dig out your air guitar and rock along to it!

doctorwillseeyounowTITLE: The Doctor Will See You Now
BAND: A Higher Demise
LABEL: Ambicon Records
RELEASED: September 15th 2014

I’m surprised I haven’t come across A Higher Demise before, as this five-piece are from Dartford which is actually pretty close to where I live. They probably are slightly heavier than the bands I love the most but having been around since 2012, I’m surprised that their latest EP is the first I’ve heard from them. They’ve already drawn comparisons to Bring Me The Horizon and been played on various independent radio stations with several rave reviews from blogs and music magazines.

I’m not a fan of Bring Me The Horizon and regular readers will know how much I love a good alternative rock band who happen to have an insanely talented vocalist. Screamo has definitely never been something I’ve enjoyed listening to and I normally skip songs by bands I love that use it. However, A Higher Demise incorporate it in a way that gives me a lot to consider and for that, I thank them for not subjecting me to an EP full of someone repeatedly screaming angst into my ear.

ahigherdemiseThe Doctor Will See You Now is their first official EP and features five songs which are incredibly unique in that I’ve yet to hear a band who so clearly appear to have a multi-personality sound. It begins with My Therapist Knows You By Name which opens with fast tapping melodic guitars and is then injected with a demonic vocal. At this point, my stomach did sink a bit but as I began to think about what sort of slant I could put on the review, a beautiful alternative rock vocal appeared, which battled it out with the screams as they traded lines throughout the frantic angry monster of a song. Before I knew it, we were onto the next track and I was incredibly intrigued about what the band were going to do next.

All These Reasons opened with some pretty harmonies and a simple guitar full of suspense, which was then pierced with the growl of the scream. The metallic riffs contrasted the sound of the vocals and gave it a really interesting clashing effect. The melodic vocals returned with the darkness of the screams running underneath and I began to wonder exactly what A Higher Demise were illustrating here. The thundering drums and dainty synth-esque guitars also suggested at a clear depiction of both the light and dark within people and indeed music.

Perhaps a more relaxed song is Here We Go Again, although it is still in keeping with the angst that we’ve already heard. The swaying motion of the track is married with the growling guitars and angry screams and it’s almost like two songs are playing at the same time. Being able to pull this off is something that I’ve never heard another band do and I have nothing but praise for them for doing it. The screamo is there as a constant shadow on the otherwise traditional alternative rock sound and its presence is something that makes me think that it’s there for a reason other than just clashing together the two different vocals simply because they can.

It’s A Trap is my favourite track instrumentally as the haunting chimes which ripple underneath throughout it are the perfect delicate background. The scream seems to leap on us suddenly and takes us off into a loud energetic moshpit anthem. There are classic metal guitar bursts and swaying melodic vocals which seem to get caught up in the storm but the consistent haunted feel runs through the track and it’s a further clue that A Higher Demise’s sound is perhaps possessed by the demon that keeps fighting with the vocal to be heard.

Ending on Over And Over, which sees the appearance of a female vocal which I’m assuming is provided by bassist Rachael. The growing guitar fuzz at the beginning is followed by fast tapping drums and the explosions of the riff are followed by pretty pop-punk-esque vocals merged with the screams. The female vocal adds another dimension to the band’s style and makes Over And Over a unique track on an already unique EP. It’s undeniably catchy and the ringing riffs and gorgeous harmonies dominating suggest that perhaps good always wins over evil.

I’m unsure whether A Higher Demise purposefully created a concept EP that combines both good and evil but it’s what I took from The Doctor Will See You Now. The title of the EP suggests to me that it is possessed and the songs within it certainly seem to be haunted by an evil presence, which is clear in the demonic screams that constantly make themselves known. It’s definitely something that everyone should listen to as I think it might be a record that gives something different to each individual it reaches and it was this that made my listening experience thoroughly enjoyable!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 104 other followers