May they ALL be remembered

So, this post is going to be pretty deep. More discussion, emotions and unfortunately not a funny one. However, it’s an important one. I’ve given it some time to write this, due to recent events within the music industry.

A week ago, Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington took his own life following a long battle with depression. Two months earlier, Chris Cornell, of Soundgarden, also took his own life.

These deaths shook the music industry and fans of the bands to the core. They are both highly influential people and have given fans of their music so much hope and strength. They have made incredible albums, songs and have been loved by so many people. They left an impact on people’s lives.

So, why does the media forget about them within a few months?

*Disclaimer- I am not talking about all media, as music journalists will not forget about these, ever. I am talking about main media, major news programmes etc.*

I find it very frustrating when channels or news outlets such as the BBC, Channel 4 etc, give certain artists more recognition and remembrance when the pass away, and give other artists barely any airtime at all. Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead, Hawkwind) passed away on the 28th December 2015. David Bowie passed away on the 10th January 2016. Both incredible, influential musicians- the difference between them though? Lemmy received a 30-second segment announcing his death for a couple of days, yet David Bowie received tribute upon tribute, programme after programme, for months.

Don’t read this as though I dislike David Bowie. I was just as upset when he died as I was with Lemmy. My anger is at the media.

The same happened with Prince, Pete Burns and George Michael. All passing away in 2016, all receiving different amounts of remembrance from the main media. For example, there are still news stories from papers being written about George Michael and his death. However, with Pete Burns, the articles stopped within a few days.

Is this because artists such as Pete Burns and Lemmy were *shock, horror* a little controversial? Not particularly media/radio friendly?

To lay it out:
– Lemmy was notorious for drinking, swearing, saying controversial things, and making heavy metal music, the least played genre of music on mainstream radio.
– David Bowie constantly changed his image along with how the music industry changed, put out radio-friendly music and did charity work. The most controversial thing Bowie said was that he was bi/gay in an interview with Melody Maker back in the 70’s.

The music Lemmy and Pete Burns put out was not of a genre that would frequently get airtime on mainstream radio stations, because it didn’t appeal to as many people as the music of George Michael and David Bowie did. Michael and Bowie’s music appeals to all ages, reaching a wider demographic than heavy metal or new-wave. Which is why, news programmes focused on, put out tribute shows on and kept news stories going for months on David Bowie and George Michael, because they would bring in the ratings. Which is so disappointing.

Every musician that dies should be remembered equally.

Every musician that dies rips a hole in the music industry and affects so many people’s lives, that the media should not pick and choose who to give more airtime to.

Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie, George Michael, Prince and Pete Burns are all equal in the eyes of the music industry and their fans.
The music industry will not be the same as it was without these musicians putting out their incredible music. Their songs had so much meaning and meant so much to a hell of a lot of people. So much that fans say, ‘Chester/Lemmy/David etc saved my life’. Surely that statement alone warrants endless recognition.

I could go on a rant for ages about this subject, going on different tangents, but those are for other blog posts. I am going to leave it here for now.

I will always remember musicians such as Chester, Lemmy and Chris, as equally as Bowie, George and Prince, and you should to. They all saved lives.

Review: ‘Champion’ by Fall Out Boy

You never really expect to fall in love with a song at first listen. Usually you’ll need to allow a couple, maybe three run through’s before it all finally comes together and your brain will work out whether to love it or hate it.
With a band like Fall Out Boy, who have been around since 2001 and blew up in the peak of the emo era of the early 2000’s, to maintain relevance and put out massive songs in today’s music industry is an incredible achievement. They still fill out arena’s and headline festivals, which could make them feel like a…champion?

Smooth little transition into the main topic, which is that Fall Out Boy have just released a new single from upcoming, highly anticipated album, ‘Mania’.

Titled, ‘Champion’, this song IS that song which you fall in love with when first listening to it. It sounds like classic FOB mixed with their newer, refined sound, and was apparently co-written with pop-music mega-star, Sia.
The love I have for this song, it is just perfect. The lyrics are the main focus of this song, especially in the chorus. For me, this song came out at a perfect time and hearing these lyrics-ones that I can lose myself in- fill me with such determination and courage to live, despite how hard that particular day might be:

‘If I can live through this,
If I can live through this,
If I can live through this,
I can do anything!’

There’s no dip in this song, by that I mean at no point does the song lose tempo or vigour to make it seem like a deflated balloon, making you feel unsatisfied after listening. POWER is something that runs through this song, transferred from Fall Out Boy themselves, into the hearts of their fans. Not many bands can do that. Not many bands can produce a song which will directly touch the emotions of listeners.

This song is really making me excited for ‘Mania’, with their previous single from the album ‘Young and Menace’ showing Fall Out Boy exploring their EDM side a bit more (something they teased in Save Rock and Roll and American Beauty/American Psycho), this album could see FOB expanding their sound even further, something they will no doubt be able to effortlessly pull off.
I’m now just waiting (not so) patiently for them to announce some UK tour dates…

Check out ‘Champion’ 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.

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.

The Return of Blink 182

Today, the music world became electric with excitement, barely keeping a lid on itself. After nearly 5 years since their last full length album, Neighborhoods, Blink 182 have finally announced that their new album’California’ will be released on July 1st of this year. To get fans even more pumped up, they released a new single titled, ‘Bored to Death’, via their Facebook page. I listened to this right before writing this post, and I absolutely love it. ‘Bored to Death’ is very reminiscent of ‘Neighborhoods’, in the sense that it has a more mature vibe to it. They’re not singing about girls or sex or anything crazy like that, it’s them bearing their souls after such a long time and after a rollercoaster 5 years.

Of course, everyone by now knows that the Blink 182 who have come back, are not the Blink 182 from 5 years ago. There has always been a love/hate relationship between the Travis, Mark and Tom, something which has time and time again put a strain on the band. It seemed that, after Neighborhoods was released that everything was okay between the three of them again, yet it didn’t last this way for long. I began to wonder if Tom particularly wanted to stay a part of Blink 182 after seeing their Reading performance on TV in 2014. The vocals from Tom were…like he wasn’t trying that much to give a good performance. It sounded as though he was just speaking the words instead of singing them like Mark was, and there was no attempt to harmonise between them. It just felt flat. There was all this buzz about them headlining, and at first when I watched it I thought something was wrong with the sound quality, but as the performance went on, it was clear that Tom just wasn’t making the effort.

The reason why I was so disappointed was because I went to go see them in 2012 for their 20th Anniversary Tour, and all three members were incredible, pouring their everything into the show. So, only 2 years on to see that the spark had already fizzled out, I honestly thought that we were never going to hear new Blink music again.

However, 2015 comes around and this is the year where Blink 182 hot up again. Tom DeLonge leaves Blink after quite public disagreements with the rest of the band, and Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio guitarist and singer) is brought in as his replacement. Initially, long term fans were sceptical about having such a prominent member replaced as they saw Blink 182 as always being Mark, Tom and Travis. Although in a very short time, fans quickly warmed to Matt becoming part of Blink, and after listening to ‘Bored To Death’, it’s clear that his vocals suit the style that Blink are going for with ‘California’.

I am incredibly excited about hearing more news to do with this album, and hearing it in full when it comes out on 1st July. Hopefully the spark won’t fizzle out this time.

Fearless Vampire Killers: ‘Bruises’ Review

Formed in Beccles in 2008, Fearless Vampire Killers are a band who have come a long way and grown so much in terms of their musical ability and sound since their first EP ‘In Grandomina’. Made up of 5 members; drummer Luke Illingworth, bassist Drew Woolnough, guitarist Cyrus Barrone (aka Shane Sumner) and joint front-men Kier Kemp and Laurence Beveridge who both take it in turns to do vocals and guitar, they create songs rich in individuality and all joined together through a story that weaves through their albums. Both their debut album ‘Militia of the Lost’ and ‘Unbreakable Hearts’ are based on novels created by Laurence Beveridge, set in the fictional city of Grandomina, with themes of love, loss, war and -of course- vampires and the ‘Fearless Vampire Killers’.

However, ‘Bruises’ does not seem to follow that same pattern. This mini album has taken a more personal route, with the band members expressing emotions that they feel, not that their characters feel. The songs are more like anthems, filled with truth, and you can hear how passionate both Kier and Laurence are when they sing their respective songs. At moments the music and lyrics are so overwhelming it’s hard not to get emotional. These are different stories they are telling this time, ones from the heart, not the pages of a book.

It starts off with ‘Feel Alive’, a song which encaptures FVK’s sound and throws it at you with a jumpy verses and melodic chorus, showing Kier Kemps voice change from clean cut singing to a harsher shout/scream in the second verse. ‘Feel Alive’ has so much variety in it, from the simple muffled drum beat and guitar riff for the intro, to the slower bridge where the whole band joins in to sing the lyrics, it shows that FVK are able to pack different sections into a song without it sounding patched together and sloppy. It is certainly a powerful opening song, one that captures the listener and shows great promise for the rest of the album.

Promise that is lived up to. The next track ‘Stepping Stones’ is sung by Laurence, who has a more deeper, rawer voice to compliment Kier’s higher range. It’s one of many clearly emotional songs, with a stand-out chorus that gets the listener singing along to it. Again, the whole band joins in to provide backing vocals and harmonies, something that they pull off so well, and is evidence of how tight they are as a group. My favourite part of the song is when they chant the chorus, accompanied by a marching drum roll, as though to show that the ‘we’ in ‘We walk these stepping stones’, includes you as well as them.

‘Keep Smiling’ is in total contrast to its predecessor, with the intro sounding much more like the style of Green Day. It’s exciting, fast and catchy, and keeps the energy level of the album up high. It’s put together in the same way as ‘Feel Alive’, but this time in the chorus you have Kier singing the lead lines over the rest of the band who are singing a repeated section underneath. This does make it hard to hear what the lyrics actually are, therefore losing some of the songs meaning, but this is regained when it comes to Laurence’s spoken word speech. Putting something like this in a song can prove risky, yet Fearless Vampire Killers hit the mark.

‘Ok so this is the way I see it:
All you do is commentate
On what’s hot and what’s not.
What’s hip and what’s shit.
What means something,
And what ain’t nothing.
You’re a leaking spout of shallow observations
Based on half-arsed assumptions.
You’re spineless.
You don’t add anything to this world.
You don’t create anything.
It costs you nothing!
This cost us everything!’

The speech actually relates to the rest of the song, it’s not just in there for the sake of it. Laurence has something he wants to say and has been wanting to for a while, it seems. You can speculate who he may be talking to, politicians, record companies, celebrities, bullies… The main thing is, people can relate to it. It’s powerful. And these days you need power in order to stand out in the music scene.

‘Regret’ is a beautiful song. It’s one that really touches me personally, and is one of those songs that gets you thinking, contemplating. ‘I’m holding on to something, I’m holding on to this regret’. Everyone has a regret, it’s not something you can let go of easily, and Fearless Vampire Killers capture that feeling and put it into this song. It’s a song that is very stripped back considering how huge some songs were in ‘Unbreakable Hearts’, yet stripping it back lets FVK reveal themselves more and shows how much they’re still growing- how much they still have to offer.

Now onto the stand out track, ‘Like Bruises’. The first single off the album and the one which has it all. Lead in by a blinding riff that comes at you like a whirlwind, mixing together the deepest notes of a guitar with the highest, it spins around you with such aggression that you wouldn’t normally associate with Fearless Vampire Killers. You can tell this song is fueled by anger. Even the video which accompanies it tells the story of a relationship ending, and shows how your life can change from good to bad in a split second, with just one sentence, shown with the lyrics ‘Like Bruises on skin, words unspoken sink in’ and ‘All that I am is no more’. It’s actually quite hard to watch that video, and makes you want to reach out and make everything better again. Laurence almost spits out the lyrics when he sings the verses, before composing himself to sing the chorus, yet no emotion is spared as it reaches the ending of the song, as that monster of a riff comes back around to finish the song with a bang.

An audio clip of someone getting out of a car and walking to a house, knocking on a door plays before the finale of the album starts, ‘Aging Love’. It’s the song which hits home the most. There’s no glorified story surrounding it, and it’s clear what it’s about, ‘I loved you, but this can’t go on’…’Why is an aging love so wrong? You promised me we’d be forever’… It’s dark, haunting and full of pain. However the bridge goes off on a tangent, as Laurence tells us more of the story, and you have to listen hard to keep up with it all to get the full meaning. Yet this is overshadowed by the wonderfully melodic instrumental finish that wraps up the album in a huge FVK shaped bow.

This album is all about them, no dramatics, no characters, just them as they truly are. Each track is so carefully thought out and professionally produced, Fearless Vampire Killers are a band that mean business, they want to get their voices heard- now more so than ever. They put songs out that they truly believe in and I couldn’t see how anyone could doubt their creativity. The instrumentation is so technical; each riff is different, each track contains multiple drum sequences and all the harmonies are done with such precision. This band will achieve big things, I have no doubt about that. They will do it their way, and they will let nothing stop them.

Vicki Hicks

 

Genre Claustrophobia

Okay so this is something that I have felt before, come across in other people and generally been thinking about it a lot lately. Genre Claustrophobia.

‘The feeling that you are stuck listening to one genre because you feel as though you have to due to family upbringing or social surroundings’. 

Yes I made that definition up in my head HOWEVER- it fits doesn’t it? It makes sense to me and probably does for you reading this. This idea came about to me last night, as I was listening to ‘Bang Bang’ by Jessie J. I’m not gonna lie, I LOVE that song, and it lead me to listen to a bit of Beyonce and then onto Lady Gaga. I now have a playlist on Spotify of my favourite songs from them. Now I used to really like Lady Gaga about 5/6 years ago, but felt like I shouldn’t listen to her because my Dad was (and still is) into heavy metal, death metal, hard rock etc and my friends were discovering bands such as My Chemical Romance, Green Day and Fall Out Boy. I still adore all three of those bands and got into them very quickly, which I am glad I did even though I initially listened to them to try and fit in to the big social group in my high school (even though that didn’t go well but made me a better person which I am today).

When I was first getting into them I threw out my Lady Gaga CD’s (regret that now -sad face-) and stopped listening to chart/pop music and fully immersed myself in rock/metal, going through that awkward little emo phase and wearing a whole stick of eyeliner round my eyes each day. After a while I started to feel suffocated by how I felt like I had to listen to certain bands and certain genres within rock and I fell out of love with music for a little bit. I didn’t want to keep listening to heavy metal, I got tired of hearing the same song topics and competitions of who could scream the loudest and scariest. I didn’t get a kick out of it anymore. So I delved back into punk (see post ‘Tori is a Headbanger’) and through that discovered pop punk and the band Patent Pending (here’s a little YouTube video of theirs- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6D6j_e3FmE). I view this as the moment when my tastes expanded again, as their sound was much happier, fun and easy to listen to. Plus they are AMAZING live and genuinely lovely people. I felt the genre claustrophobia start to lift a little…

My next breakout was when I watched the film Rock of Ages. Oh that film…I have a very deep love for it and have seen it many, many times and I am proud of it. It is what got me into classic rock bands such as Poison, Def Leppard, Journey and loads of other odd songs here and there. Classic rock is comforting to me, and it gets me motivated, excited about things and wakes me up in the morning. It sounds different enough than normal rock or hard rock so it doesn’t feel like I am still stuck listening to the same thing. I also have a Spotify playlist especially for classic rock and I am not ashamed in the least.

So now we come full circle back to last night. I was not in the mood for any of my usual listens, and just really wanted to hear something that sounded fresh. Dancey. Upbeat. So cue Beyonce and Lady Gaga. I felt completely free from being stuck in one place, I realised that I can listen to anything I want if it makes me happy. I have that option to switch between FrnkIero andthe Cellabration to Beyonce’s ‘Crazy In Love’ and it has made me feel invigorated and enthused about music again. We are in a society where there are still those who will judge you for not listening to what they think is the ‘right’ sort of music (i.e any band they listen to), but if you look at the bigger picture, IT DOESN’T MATTER WHO YOU LIKE IT SHOULD NOT DEFINE YOU. It should merely be one of the many interesting parts of you.

I hope this post makes sense to you and if you can relate to anything then that’s amazing. Don’t feel suffocated in one genre, its your life and you choose the things that make you happy.

Vicki x