Emma O’Reilly: Irish Rising Star (E.P. Review and Upcoming Tour)

A musician from the west of Ireland specialising in alternative rock and pop but played through the piano, Emma O’ Reilly is certainly something unique in today’s music industry. Citing influences such as Kate Bush and Tori Amos, she has been making music and performing since her early teenage years, going on to study music further, obtaining a BA from Trinity College. Her first E.P ‘Tour’ was released in 2007 and was a huge success as it completely sold out.

Emma is beginning a run of summer shows, performing this weekend in Norwich on Saturday 17th June at Eaton Park Cafe and Peterborough on Sunday 18th June at Puzzels?, then touring further with 5 more shows at the end of July/beginning of August.
Tickets are available through her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/emmaormusic/app/123966167614127/.

Her fourth EP ‘Fractures’ was released on May 19th and has so far received critical acclaim from a variety of people such as Remy Connolly (Remy’s Film and Music Blog) and Julie Bell (Pure M Magazine).
It was named ‘Album of the Week’ by BBC Radio Suffolk on The Great Big Sunday Show and has had airplay on radio stations across Great Britain and Ireland.

‘Fractures’ Review
With the basis of her music being the piano, Emma proves that simplicity is the key to making a captivating E.P.
‘Shake’ is the lead single from ‘Fractures’ and starts the E.P off on a fierce note. The attitude and meaning of her words punch through the music, creating a huge contrast to the delicate, traditional piano. A lot of thought has gone into how the story is told, which is a refreshing change to the mundane pop that is pumped into the music charts these days.
In comparison, ‘Count’ is much gentler, with the chords of the ukulele blending beautifully with her vocal melody. It is a song which soothes you, and one of those rare songs which you instantly like upon first listen.
There is so much emotion that is put into Emma’s songs; something you can hear in her voice and which is then felt in your body. In ‘Cervantes’, Emma’s voice is almost haunting, and genuinely gave me the chills whilst listening to it. I had to pause for a moment because I was just in awe of how pure her voice was.
It is so clear through this E.P that Emma is very gifted and has perfected, very quickly, which instruments compliment her voice and help tell the songs’ story. The notes she is able to reach, especially on the last track, ‘Geneva’, are incredible and I wish I was able to do that without my voice breaking.
With Emma’s music, nothing gets lost in over-production. No value is lost in how many instruments/backing vocals are added.
 Emma O’ Reilly is a promising and dedicated musician who is serious about the music she produces and the messages she puts across in her songs. She has overcome so much and worked so hard to produces ‘Fractures’ and it is receiving the positive reviews and promotion that it deserves.

To listen to ‘Fractures’ just click these links below:

Manchester Music vs Norwich Music

Coming to the end of my first year at music uni has made me look back over the year and think about all the differences between my home city of Norwich and now my second home of Manchester. Of course there are cultural, historical and dialect differences but seeing as this is a music blog, I am going to focus and compare the Manchester music scene to the Norwich music scene.

As I said previously in my blog ‘Music in Manchester’, there are very obvious differences you notice when coming to Manchester, such as the whole cities obsession with Oasis, The Smiths and The Stone Roses. Nearly everyone here loves either one or all of these bands and honestly it’s pretty weird to experience!
Norwich doesn’t have a defining band like Oasis, it’s mainly filled with people who like all different kinds of music. That’s one thing I love about music in Norwich; you don’t feel pressured to like one particular genre/artist/band. All different kinds of bands come to Norwich, but the city isn’t really defined by one particular band or genre.

For example, from going to a music college and being friends with mainly metal-heads, I experienced that Norwich had a thriving underground heavy metal scene. Pubs like the B2 and Brickmakers and the Owl Sanctuary regularly put on gigs for local metal bands, in order to give aspiring musicians of metal- a genre which has lost some of its’ popularity in recent years- the promotion and foot on the ladder that they need.
Of course, Norwich doesn’t have nearly as many venues as Manchester and lacks a big venue like MEN Arena, the Etihad Stadium or Victoria Warehouse. The biggest venue Norwich has is the UEA, with a capacity of only 1500. So, this means that more well known bands and artists are less likely to tour to little ol’ Naar’ich. When I was younger I had to travel to Nottingham to see bands, such as My Chemical Romance, Thirty Seconds To Mars and Blink 182. Now, living in Manchester, I only need to walk to the other side of the city or down the road to see bands like these. In December, I’m lucky enough to be seeing Marilyn Manson. An artist whose music I don’t primarily listen to as much as I used to, but one who I would never pass up the opportunity to see.

Norwich also has other genres intertwined within it, such as drum and bass, folk/acoustic acts and mainstream rock. The UEA and Waterfront are venues which both regularly hold club nights that play everything from R ‘n’ B to pop punk, from underground dance to nostalgic ’emo’. However, whilst Norwich has all this going on, it unfortunately fails to stand out as a musical city. The UEA doesn’t even run a music degree.

Now, compare this to Manchester, and whilst it has the huge stereotype of being an indie music central, it is looked upon as a musically rich city. Bands actually come here, their tour manager is able to look at the city and conclude that people will attend the concert, and ALL KINDS of musicians come here because of the range of venues. Manchester Academy- just down Oxford Road- has 3 venues within it. There are 2 O2 sites (Apollo and Ritz), smaller venues for lesser known artists or uni bands such as Gorilla, Band On The Wall and Sound Control as well as the larger venues I mentioned earlier. Musicians from all over the world come and play in Manchester.

However, I do feel that some aspiring musicians/bands who come out of the uni’s and colleges here, do fall into the stereotypical indie-wannabe Arctic Monkey’s/Oasis/The Smiths, which isn’t a good sign for the cities new music scene. Manchester is a vibrant, varied city and shouldn’t be stuck on repeat, churning out indie band after indie band. What I’ve noticed whilst living here, and of course experiencing Manchester’s music scene, is that there needs to be different genres that are prevalent in Manchester. I feel that the city could really experience its dance/EDM scene more, rather than just confining it to Victoria Warehouse. It would be nice to regularly attend raves that you don’t have to fork out £40/£50 for!
Event organisers would be surprised by how many people would attend dance nights, and how many DJ’s and Producers they would be able to hire. The uni I attend has a Music Production course but currently, it’s difficult for them to spread their name further than Soundcloud, due to the lack of dance venues Manchester has. I can say definitely that having EDM venues would make this city even more attractive than it already is and would help shift the indie stereotype it’s becoming stuck with.

So that’s my comparison between Norwich and Manchester’s music scenes. Both have their faults, but I love them equally. I think if they merged together though then they would have the right balance. It’s strange to experience a city which has a strong music scene, it’s just getting used to a genre which I don’t listen to, but coming to Manchester meant I met my boyfriend, who introduced me to the amazing world of dance music and expanded my music tastes even further, which I am very grateful for.

The legacy and change in rap music

Coming from a punk-rock background the last genre of music I would expect to get into is rap. If you had told me when I was 13- rocking a mess of black hair, sloppily put on eyeliner and an MCR t-shirt- that I would, in 6 years time, have a Kanye playlist on Spotify and know who Ice-Cube, Dr-Dre and Eazy-E are…I would have probably said ‘No way I’m always going to listen to MCR and Fall Out Boy, nothing else!’

However, here I am indeed, 6 years later with not just a Kanye playlist, but two ‘I Feel Like Pablo’ t-shirts as well. Oh how times have changed.

I’ve gotten into rap music within the last year and a half, but I’m not gonna lie, I prefer the older style of rap rather than the newer style. By that I mean, not when ALL the rapper has to say is how many girls he’s screwed or the things he’d like to do to them (sometimes wayyy too much information is shared). I watched the film Straight Outta Compton recently and loved it. It was so cool seeing how the group formed, what inspired the lyrics Ice-Cube wrote, how they rose to fame so quickly and of course, the death of Eazy-E.

The lyrics that Ice-Cube wrote were so raw and so personal. The extreme police brutality that was happening against black people in the late 80/90’s in America was genuinely shocking and I feel that N.W.A had every right to make the song, ‘Fuck The Police’. Of course now it has improved somewhat, but this is my point: the origins of rap came from those who had dealt with and seen some tough shit. They used their voices and words to connect with others who could empathise, and to ultimately spread messages in hope that they will create change. Rap was a release. It released their anger and disgust through them telling stories, recalling events, and was non-violent. The rap that N.W.A produced, and that Eminem sometimes wrote- mainly with Dr Dre- was powerful and caught peoples attention.

Fast forward to rap in todays music industry aaaand…things are a little different.

Rap music is just 90% about sex and excess and it’s very rare you’ll come across an artist whose lyrics are about topics that matter or are raw and from the heart. That now kind of comes from the genre grime.

Let me give you a few examples. Take the song ‘Talk Dirty To Me’ by Jason Derulo: when 2Chainz has his little rap solo, his powerful message is ‘Sold out arena’s, you can suck my penis’. I’m not gonna lie mate, I’d rather not. Also in Pitbull’s song ‘Hotel Room Service’, the entire song is a very detailed description of things he wants to do to this girl- ‘She like that freaky stuff, 2 in the O, 1 in the eye, that kinky stuff, you nasty’.
Even Kanye has some questionable lyrics, especially in his new stuff like ‘Highlights’ where he shades his wife Kim Kardashians infamous past boyfriend, Ray J.

It’s gotten to the point where rappers such as Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent are actually taking the piss out of new rappers, saying how it just sounds like they are making noises in the same tones and pitch- like a constant drone, with nothing real to actually say, and it is so true! Take a look at this video and you’ll know what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMRkxidQO-M 

I just think its a shame that groups like N.W.A had to fight so much for their music to be heard as it was so controversial at the time, yet a rapper today can come out and say how he wants to fuck every girl on the planet and people will shower them with money and turn a blind-eye to the lyrics.
Rap, just like pop music, has become too commercialised and is being controlled too much by the ‘sex sells’ policy that managers force onto their musicians.

Studying Music

Coming to the end of my first year studying Music Journalism, FINALLY submitting all my assignments, it’s made me think back to when I first started studying music and realising that I wanted to take it seriously. I’ve studied 3 different areas of music over the course of my education and its actually quite cool to see how I progressed and what made me decide on studying those areas.

I’m not gonna lie I used to hate music lessons when I first started high school. I can’t exactly remember why but I just remember trying to get through those lessons was SO painful. It wasn’t the teachers fault, just the parts of music we were being taught were dire to sit through when you were an 11 year old. It was very theory based and we were always forced to do group projects which, lets be honest, always turned out shit because none of us had any sense of rhythm, pitch and there was always one group of people who all hated each other, so did no work. However, fast forward to the end of year 8, I started guitar lessons, mainly because I was going through my little emo phase and wanted to play all these All Time Low, My Chemical Romance songs and be a rockstar. Something then changed and I began to absolutely love music lessons, so chose it as a GCSE.

I swear down, that music GCSE was harder than this BA Hons Degree I’m doing.

All through my music GCSE I was still playing guitar and I also was singing a lot more. I had an alright voice, but it was more like Joan Jett’s and more deep because I used to sing along to Green Day, MCR and Fall Out Boy albums. One thing I could not do was play guitar AND sing, when I tried it was a shambles. I really loved the idea of performing. Again, GCSE music was so theory based, had to learn all these fancy terms and analyse pieces of classical music and then write 2 of our own pieces of music (either in 12 bar blues or another genre, classical possibly) ON SIBELIUS 4. THE GUITARS SOUNDED LIKE THEY WERE BEING MASSACRED. Writing and doing those pieces of music nearly did my head in, especially as I couldn’t read music for shit, so how on earth I got a B overall is a miracle.

My next experience of studying music was when I was in college. This time it was more practical as I was studying Music Performance buuuut…here’s the thing about the college I went to; most of the people who play instruments, or sing, are very pretentious people. They think they’re the next Ed Sheeran, but the metal guitarists were the worst. All they would to was sweep-pick (think that’s the term?), see who could play scales the fastest and just construct very generic riffs just abusing the top two or three strings. Due to one particular guitarist and, frankly, arsehole of a person, I lost the confidence to play guitar. So I began to sing more, which I had thankfully gotten better at, but not being able to feel like I was good enough to play guitar really took the shine out of studying Music Performance.

There wasn’t too much theory this time around, and most of the subjects I quite enjoyed, because they were creative and included a lot of writing. You can see where this is heading, can’t you.

Early in the second year of college I realised I wanted to study Music Journalism. I loved writing, I loved music, and I couldn’t see myself being a performer any time soon, soo…off I send my application to UCAS and WHEY-HEY ya girl had landed a place studying Music Journalism, in Manchester. I’ve already spoken in a previous post about what its like experiencing music in Manchester, so feel free to read that after this post.

As I said at the beginning, I’m now coming to the end of my first year here at uni in Manchester. I have absolutely loved studying Music Journalism so far. My uni is similar to my college in the sense that lessons/lectures feel informal. You’re able to relax, able to have a laugh and have in-depth conversations with tutors. You’re given loads of opportunities to be creative and they do encourage you to write and essentially begin your career as a music journalist. There was one drawback to this first year, and that was also having to attend Music Business lessons. Now, no shade or whatever to people who take Music Business, it’s just these lessons were a down-right waste of time for journalists. They also took place at 9am on a Tuesday so probably less than half the class ever turned up. It was quite funny because the tutor even declared that the lessons weren’t relevant to music journalism, so the few journalists who had turned up- including myself- were just like…so why the hell have we had to attend all these 9am lectures for the entire year.

(I’ve only been to one though this entire last term shh…Not because I can’t be arsed, there’s other reasons such as shitty neighbours I have to put up with)

Despite that, I’ve loved this, and I can’t wait for next year, and the year after, and finally getting a degree. I forced myself to move over 200 miles to do this, because I wanted to, I had to. I’ve had to put up with some shit whilst living here, but I am so determined to do this and to pass my degree. To feel genuinely proud of myself. I’m not sure what I’ll do after graduating, I have a few ideas but for now I’m just focusing on doing as well in this degree as I can.

Live Review: All Time Low @ UEA LCR, Norwich (30/3/17)

Being 5ft 4 and quite tiny in general, having a 6ft steroid loaded body guard standing right in front of you isn’t ideal. I can see one member of the band so…this review is going to be interesting.

The UEA is packed out tonight. It’s been a number of years since Baltimore band, All Time Low graced this ‘fine city’ with their presence, and 14 year old me thought they never would. 19 year old me has mixed feelings about seeing them now, as I haven’t listened to their past two albums properly and- having hauled myself out of my emo phase a few years ago- I feel very out of place wearing a Kanye West shirt.
Thankfully I’m by the sound-desk and not in the mosh pit getting a cocktail of other people’s sweat on me.

Support band SWMRS are…interesting to say the least. They look like they should still be in high school, a band just jamming away in their parents’ basement. Probably mostly famous for having Billie Joe Armstrong’s son on drums, they have a very grungy, laid-back, don’t care, slurred vocals, desperately-trying-to-be-punk sound. It almost works but it feels quite pretentious. They come across very overly confident, already used to being on the stage and being center of attention, even having the balls to write a song about…Miley Cyrus? According to SWMRS she’s a ‘punk rock queen’. Who knew.

SWMRS finish and the anticipation builds. Cue blackout and enter All Time Low. OH WOW THAT’S A LOT OF STROBE LIGHTING.
It’s a little surreal seeing a band that, 5 years ago I accepted I may never see live. It’s almost a euphoric atmosphere when they play ‘Weightless’, one of their most well known and loved songs. Everyone is clapping and the room comes alive with an energy so electric. It’s with this song that everyone is brought together. We sound amazing according to front-man Alex Gaskarth.
‘Somewhere In Neverland’, from the album Don’t Panic, see’s heaps of passion come through, with the entirety of the pit jumping up and down in unison.
Their sound is as clean as on the records, none of this half-arsed singing you get with some bands live who think they’re ‘all that’. All Time Low are down to earth, nice guys- despite being how well known they are- and they take the time to thank the crowd, seeming genuinely in awe at the energy the crowd has and how many people are here.
Ah Jack Barakat already has 2 bras dangling off his mic stand, classy as ever Norwich.
Beach balls are suddenly flying everywhere and even the disco balls were brought out. Combined with the intense lighting set-up All Time Low have, it feels like one big fucking party.
‘Everywhere we look we see people, it’s kind of cool’, says Jack.
Their new song, ‘Dirty Laundry’, has very different sound to the usual pop-punk All Time Low are known for. It’s ambient and fresh and just when you think it’s going to stay relaxed, they hit you with all instruments and volume for the last chorus. Is this a new era of All Time Low we’re seeing?
As soon as Alex brings out his acoustic guitar up start the chants of ‘Wonderwall’. A song which- after hearing every time you go to the pub in Manchester- you’d rather pass on.
The banter that Alex and Jack have is very reminiscent of early Blink 182, minus the continuous dick jokes.
All Time Low blast out more flawless hits such as Love Like War and Backseat Serenade, and my throat is now very dry from singing. This is a brilliant gig, I may not be heavily into All Time Low anymore but honestly, I’m still having an awesome time. They know how to put on a good show and not let the quality of their sound slip up.
Encore: Lost In Stereo and Dear Maria, Count Me in
If you are standing still during this then you are a very boring person. You couldn’t have chosen better songs to end the show with. Everyone is going to leave in high spirits and on a serious serotonin kick. Well done All Time Low, that was fucking incredible.

Will there ever be another huge music movement?

The 50’s was Rock N Roll. The 60’s was Psychedelia. The 70’s was Punk and the 80’s was Glam Metal and New Romanticism.

All those decades are known for certain movements in music. Memorable genre’s which had their own culture, lifestyle and fashion, ones you had to commit to and which encompassed periods of your life. They spawned huge bands; with Rock N Roll you had Elvis and Buddy Holly, with Psychedelia you had Jimi Hendrix, with Punk you had the Ramones and Sex Pistols, and Glam Metal saw Bon Jovi whilst New Romanticism produced Duran Duran. History documentaries are made about these decades and these bands and their careers are immortalised in books.

However, when you get to the 90’s and to the present day…no band really sticks out. No genre was prominent and there was certainly no movement like Punk. I guess you could say the genre of the 90’s was cheese pop, the kind of genre you only ‘like’ when you’re about 5 pints and 3 tequila shots down in the club. The 90’s was the decade in which music got ‘samey’, and this funk has seemed to carry on throughout the 00’s. Pop started to be manufactured, mass produced and had to follow exact guidelines in order for people to buy the records.

Music has gotten safe, even rock bands that are emerging from underground claiming to be ‘punk’ or ‘hardcore’ etc just sound like watered-down re-hashes of their idols. Pop music and rap music is sounding too ‘sugary’, following the same patterns and all using the same tactics to draw people in- a female vocalist in their late teens or early 20’s, normally collaborating with a half well-known rapper, and dressed in revealing, tight high-on-trend clothes that, lets be honest, you would only really see the Kardashians actually wearing out.

All of this begs the question: is there ever going to be another movement in music, or is this how it will be from now on? Stale and samey?

Radio and TV stations like Kiss and 4music only play the same ‘trending’ songs on loop, day after day and now focus on what is being streamed instead of physically bought. So, this doesn’t help new bands who are potentially bringing something fresh and interesting to break out into the spotlight and get the media attention they need. Grime was a genre that reared its’ head a couple of years ago, but that was forgotten about, with only Stormzy still carrying the torch. Outside of the mainstream, there is a vast dance music scene, which has a huge following, it’s own festivals and accomplished DJ’s/Producers- this has the potential to be a movement, so what’s stopping it? Answer: the media.

There could be a new movement in music again, if the media would break out of the cycle of only playing the same artists, the same songs of the same genre. The media needs to recognise that if this is how it carries on, music will have no life. It will just sound too manufactured. There will be no passion, no real message or drive for the artist to make the music, other than expensive clothes and lots of money. However, this might just be how the industry is going to go for the foreseeable future, because record labels, managers, media outlets etc, have gotten too focused on just producing what will sell and what will make them the most money. Their heads are way too high up in the clouds for them to see that their method of doing things is what is slowly causing the music industry to flat-line.

A new band needs to come forward and be that revelation that the music industry needs.

Album Review: ‘California’ by Blink 182

As part of a new ‘series’ on my blog, where I review my favourite albums, new or old, here’s my review of Blink 182’s recent and Grammy nominated album, ‘California’.

It’s their first album in 5 years. It’s also their first album without co-founder Tom Delonge, with Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio) stepping in and taking his place. To say Blink 182 have made a few small changes as a band in those 5 years, since their last album ‘Neighborhoods’, would be putting it incredibly lightly.
They had been teasing a new album for ages, with constant rumours of being in the studio, yet no actual evidence of new music surfaced. It wasn’t until Matt joined (after all the drama with Tom and his subsequent departure back in 2015) that Instagram posts of studio rehearsals and snippets of album artwork appeared, fuelling the hype amongst fans.
Vocalist and bassist, Mark Hoppus, wanted the new album, ‘California’, to have influences of early Blink whilst maintaining a slight maturity that ‘Neighborhoods’ showed us- and that’s exactly what we got.
There are the anthems such as ‘Bored To Death’ and ‘Los Angeles’, then the 30 second songs- ‘Built This Pool’ and ‘Brohemian Rhapsody’- which are very much reminiscent of ‘Family Reunion’ and ‘Happy Holidays, You Bastard’. It makes you realise that Blink 182 haven’t completely grown up, and maybe the sincerity of ‘Neighborhoods’ was ‘just a phase’.
‘Bored To Death’ was the first and lead single off ‘California’, one which showcased their musical talent with sing-a-long chants, spiralling guitar hooks and a huge chorus which captivates you on the first listen.
The two stand out tracks on California are ‘She’s Out Of Her Mind’ and ‘Los Angeles’- the former reflecting their ‘Enema of the State’ era, with the video being a hilarious remake of the video to ‘What’s My Age Again?’.
‘Los Angeles’ is one of those songs which evokes so much emotion; it has so many contrasting elements, from the quick fire verse to the chorus where Matt Skiba sings, ‘Los Angeles, when will you save me?’ so powerfully, it makes you want to throw out your arms and belt it out with him.
Admittedly, not all fans will love this album, as die-hards are still mourning the (slightly expected) departure of Tom, and this album does need to be listened to more than once, in order to completely understand the concept.
‘California’ is a pop-punk masterpiece, one that encapsulates the meaning of Blink 182 and what the band stands for. It took a while to get here, but this album will not bore us to death anytime soon.

Eat, Sleep, Rave, Sleep again

I’m pretty new to the whole dance music scene. I used to- back in my unfortunate emo days- poetically describe it as ‘shit’, with probably only listening to one song. To be fair everything back then was basically, if it’s not My Chemical Romance, then it’s ‘shit’. However, fast forward 5/6 years later and with a much broader knowledge of the music industry and a more open mind, I find myself at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester, for my first rave.

The event is Life In Color, a show which tours the globe with some of the biggest DJ’s in dance, hardstyle and techno. There is also the addition of paint cannons, a prospect I was excited about, until you end up freezing your tits off because the paint is very watery and it is also February. I ended up clinging to my boyfriend for his body heat.

On the line-up were some very respectable DJ’s: Third Party, Jay Hardway, Juicy M, Dannic, W&W, Nicky Romero and Chuckie. Of course I didn’t know who any of them were until tonight, and I feel like I should have listened to them more beforehand because after a while I couldn’t really distinguish between them. I can’t say that these people aren’t talented, the way they layer the tracks, adding effects and sampling, creating melodies that are unique to them as an artist. It is incredibly hard to do and I have huge respect for them being able to create music like that.

You’d normally associate a rave environment with people taking drugs left right and centre, beer being poured over your head and bottles of piss being flung through the crowd. But this different…I mean there were people there who were still undeniably off their heads, but the majority- including myself and my boyfriend- were just there to have a good time and party to some amazing DJ’s. Before the coldness of the paint set it I did full on go for it, losing myself in this new genre of music that was just partypartyparty non stop. You had to have so much energy for a rave, not like a rock concert where you could take a breather whilst you whacked out a lighter for a slow song.

The highlight of the night was Dannic, I did really enjoy his set and will be sure to check out his music in my own time. This has all been such a new and eye-opening experience, and once I listen more to this style of music I will be able to review a rave or a DJ set properly. As I said, raves are fairly new to me, but I am definitely going to another one. The feeling you get, just dancing and not caring about anything apart from the music in something you are starting to lose at gigs and rock concerts nowadays. Everyone is too concerned to catch it all on Facebook Live or Snapchat, which I think is sad. Just enjoy the night and make memories! That’s what I did at my first rave and I can’t wait for my next one, hopefully without the paint though this time.

Music In Manchester

Nearly 5 months ago I moved over 200 miles, from a tiny little village in Norfolk to Manchester, to study music journalism at BIMM university. I’ve wanted to be a journalist for over a year now. I find writing interesting, captivating, stories and bands careers documented on pages to last as long as the paper will hold them. I want to immerse myself in this crazy world of music, through TV, radio, or print. Music is beautiful, and it is powerful. To be in a city surrounded by so many different genres, and being able to experience them first hand is an opportunity I am so glad I gave myself.

I’m writing this to Green Day’s new album ‘Revolution Radio’, as I’m seeing them at Manchester Arena this time next week (6th February). I would have never been able to see them if I had stayed in Norfolk.

Whilst Norwich did have a good, growing music scene, it just seemed to lack that enthusiasm that Manchester has. Norwich bands only seem to try so hard before settling for being pub bands, or going back to their day jobs, letting dreams of making it ‘big-time’ fizzle out into nothing. One thing I noticed as well whilst studying at college there was that underground bands were predominantly metal, or some form of that particular…and they always seemed to just be…samey. Good, but after about 10 minutes or so, just boring as hell. But that is my opinion.

However, Manchester -admittedly at first glance just seems to be obsessed with Oasis, Arctic Monkeys and The Stone Roses- is richer. There are more layers, more metaphorical corners to explore. In the space of a few days I will be going to Victoria Warehouse to see 7 different DJ’s play, then to see Green Day. How diverse can you get? It is refreshing and invigorating to be around so many music venues that hold gigs for known artists as well as upcoming artists. Everyone is given a chance. Just down the road from my accommodation there is the O2 Ritz, Gorilla and Sound Control, where gigs happen almost nightly. It gives me so much excitement to be in the midst of all of this talent, being able to write about new bands who could potentially one day be as big as their inspirations, whoever they may be. I could go see a psychedelic 6 piece one night, and then a Nirvana-style grunge 3 piece the next. You would not get that in Norwich.

I have ambition. I want to be successful, do well for myself, have a good life and career. Now I finally feel like that can happen. Music is healing, inspiring and being here has given me the chance to expand my knowledge further, to go to events I wouldn’t be able to back in Norfolk. If I’m honest I wouldn’t be in the same mindset either; you have to be very open minded when being a journalist, of course you can still have your favourite band or genre, but basing all your work on different oasis-inspired indie bands all the time isn’t nearly as fun. I’m looking forward to growing as a writer and journalist, especially in a place as vibrant as Manchester, my new home.

Live Review: La Mode (+Ballamona and Maddy Storm)

The Night and Day cafe in Manchester is one of those hidden gems nestled in Northern Quarter, and the last place you expect to be packed out on a Tuesday night for a gig.

GENERATION MCR– an event put on by BIMM students, for BIMM students and reviewed by BIMM students.

First up are Ballamona, who seem nervous- expected given the huge crowd- and arrive up onstage heads down, slouching behind their guitars. They are very much reminiscent of early Foo Fighters and soaked with Indie that if you cut them open The Strokes would play, with the bassist having a Kurt Cobain style presence. A moment during the intro to the second song, the drum beat was so similar to The Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson yet then twisted and went into a smooth, safe indie rock song. It captivated you as there were so many styles all blended into one. The vocals are almost slurred, definitely trying to recreate that laid back, nonchalant feel generic indie bands have. However, you cannot fault Ballamona on their talent. You can tell they have a direction and sound they are happy with and want to move forward in. They are a very melodic band, the music and vocals blend together like coffee and cream. It’s always good to interact with the crowd, however you need to judge the timing , as you will lose interest from the audience. Unfortunately this is the only time Ballamona slipped up during their entire performance, but no band is perfect when they first start out. Credit to them as they did pick it back up, captivating the crowd again and holding onto them until the very end of the set.

Little Maddy Storm with the big voice.
A huge contrast to Ballamona, with her music having a very ambient feel, unlike anything I’ve heard before. Maddy Storm and her band grab your attention in such a different way to Ballamona, the music tricks you into thinking it will constantly be a gentle listen and then the volume rises and Maddy releases a teaser of her powerful vocals. Whilst the music is good, it is so chilled out and relaxing, I could have easily curled up on one of the sofas and drifted off to sleep. Maybe Maddy wasn’t the right choice to have on after an indie-rock get up?
There were moments throughout her performance when the (intentional?) feedback detracted the attention from her voice, making it a struggle to make out the lyrics. Despite this, Maddy clearly has potential to become a strong character, there’s already a glimmer of front-woman in her. Her music is unique, it’s fresh sounding, you can’t pin point one particular artist she sounds like, and the performance tonight shows she means business and is not your typical singer/songwriter. There’s ambition, emotion and drive behind her voice. She just needs to act like she owns the stage, that it is her place…and she will go far.

For the entire performance that La Mode gave all I can think about is how the vocalist looks and acts so much like Joey Ramone that it scares me. With her voice also sounding like a mash up of Axl Rose and Joan Jett, it’s a very confusing gig to watch/listen…and I think I like it?
Songs such as ‘Electric’ inject the crowd with energy, with their sound being similar to Ballamona- very indie, punky, more aggressive vibes, dripping with attitude. Their cover of ‘Woman’is incredible, and I feel that most of the bands musical talent shines through this song. As someone listening to it you can tell that they love it and have worked hard on that, to do the song justice. La Mode are a band you can picture playing in bigger venues already. They have that edgy aesthetic that appeals to the younger generation.
Now, audience participation can be the make or break of your gig, asking the crowd to clap and getting blank looks back is always awkward, yet La Mode seem to have the audience wrapped round their little finger. The crowd claps and hollars along to pretty much every song. Impressive.
It’s time for the instruments to mellow out now, and let the vocals fill up the Night and Day venue like smoke. That girl has some lungs on her. She shouts, roars and yells her way through the whole of the set, never faltering, maintaining a consistent power few female vocalists actually master.
It must be a euphoric sensation being able to perform like that, and to end the set to a full crowd cheering, clapping and begging for more is such an achievement. La Mode should be incredibly proud of themselves.