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.