Calum’s Top 10 of 2014


Hello blogosphere! I guess I’m the first to arrive at the party and introduce myself. Let’s start with the basics – I’m Calum and I love music. To be honest that is probably how I would introduce myself at a party and my hope with this blog is that you – the readers – learn a plethora of new things from our team of writers just like you would after attending an incredible party.

Before I start rhyming off my top ten tracks of the year so far for you all I just want to apologise in advance as I am currently, and have been for a while a now, stuck in a deep soul hole. I just can’t stop listening to the smooth offerings of Atlantic, Motown and Stax and I’m sure as you know, well-read fan of music, this music comes from the ’60s! This list might not be the most adventurous but it’s got something for everyone, enjoy!

Paolo Nutini – Scream (Funk My Life Up)

Continuing with the soul flavour, the first track that came to mind when compiling this list comes from the irrepressible Mr. Paolo Nutini. Nutini bounced back after a five year hiatus with number one album ‘Caustic Love’ and with it he started a new chapter as a soulman. ‘Scream (Funk My Life Up)’ is the album opener and lead single – upbeat, full of joy and Nutini’s iconic grainy, rasping vocals. He incorporates zany electronic sounds and reverberations of groovy bass throughout this undeniable funk hit. Nutini’s vocals are powerful and absolutely on point – a true modern masterpiece. Fans of Curtis Mayfield would like.

King Creosote – Bluebell, Cockleshell, 123

Scottish folk artist Kenny Anderson, going by his alias King Creosote, very recently released an album entitled ‘From Scotland With Love’ which was created as the soundtrack to go with a BBC film of the same name. Atmospheric and haunting, the whole album compliments the grainy black and white archive footage of Scotland used in the arty flick. Though one track in particular stood out to as a gem. ‘Bluebell, Cockleshell, 123’ is the ultimate contrast song – on the face of it it’s an innocent, uplifting song with handclaps and harmonies from skipping schoolkids –  but if you scrape a little beyond the surface you can here the pain in Anderson’s voice and lyrics and the angry drive behind his guitar work. Short and sweet and full of emotion: a treat for the ears.

Bombay Bicycle Club – Feel

After taking a few years out, London indie rockers Bombay Bicycle Club returned earlier this year with the stunning ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’. During this time out front man Jack Steadman went on his travels hitting The Netherlands, Turkey and India to name but a few: the influence of the latter certainly inspired one of my top tracks of this year – ‘Feel’. Think British Bollywood with some serious sampling and a catchy chorus. Bombay have absolutely nailed it with their latest reincarnation and that’s what I love about them, they are a band that’s not scared to reinvent themselves. The first album was very much a grungy, indie, riff driven rock piece, they returned quickly with the acoustic ‘Flaws’ and the more dancey ‘A Different Kind of Fix’ quickly followed, but after taking their time I think Bombay Bicycle Club have finally created their most well rounded, complete album to date. Feel is the highlight of that album as it captures that full journey from grungy bass beginnings to a more manicured Eastern sound with elements of dance still thrown in for good measure.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Call Me

‘Call Me’ by St. Paul & The Broken Bones is another which falls into a category which has gripped me of late – new soul. Hailing from the musical hub that is Birmingham, Alabama their roots are very much set in Southern soul and blues, particularly the Stax label which had so much success in the late ’60s with legends like Otis Redding and Booker T. & The MGs. Lead singer Paul Janeway directs the song with strong vocals as the large band around him play with a serious groove and funk in a way only a band with a large brass section could. We’ve recently seen a resurgence of Northern Soul themes in pop music through elements of John Newman’s and Pharrell Williams’ stuff but this new brand of Southern soul coming up in the US is going unnoticed and St.Paul and The Broken Bones are leading the way. It’s just a great heartfelt, toe-tapping  tune that makes you want to dance and wail with Paul.

Calvin Harris – Summer

I’m not going to lie to you I had really started to go off Calvin Harris and felt he was stagnating a bit with all the collaborations he was doing with other artists. So you can imagine my joy when I heard ‘Summer’! Calvin. Just Calvin on his own. It just feels right, now that he’s a big household name he can afford to go back to the good old days of ‘Feel So Close’ and ‘I’m Not Alone’ and produce, sing and perform a massive hit single which is all his own. Simple and elegant as always, Harris captures the party feel that surrounds a summer adventure and fleeting romance between two people. The superstar DJ invites you to join him in the first verse of the track before a big drop throws you straight into the action. Trust me having experienced this live at T in the Park not so long ago it’s an amazing spectacle to watch a crowd cascade at once while singing along with Calvin (and a special guest). An instant dance classic, it has definitely been the soundtrack to my summer!

Twin Atlantic – Heart And Soul

“They’ve changed, it’s too fucking poppy”, “I’ve liked them for ages, their first album was way better”. You’d be forgiven for having these opinions after your first listen of ‘Heart And Soul’ because as a big Twin Atlantic fan I hated this song at first and I said these things. Now, however I’ve embraced the song for all it’s good qualities and after a few listen I’m very much anticipating the release of their third studio album ‘The Great Divide’ later this month. ‘Heart And Soul’ kicks in with driving bass and guitar riffs as Sam McTrusty assertively comes in and cries in his distinctive style “I flicked the switch on the generator so I could turn you on” and barring the chorus the whole song repeats this exact format so actually the poppier more uplifting chorus is a bit of light relief from the deep, driving, gloomy verses. The song breaks down near the end and you can practically envisage McTrusty standing on top of an amp leading the crowd in song, crashing his hands together above his head, it has all the makings of a great festival anthem and a defining song for Twin Atlantic.

Haim – If I Could Change Your Mind

Haim were a band I was always conscious of but I’d never actually listened to but after seeing them live I’ve been hooked. They have plenty of  instantly recognisable ‘heard that before’ type tunes full of melodic riffs, poppy harmonies and R&B beats. The Californian sister trio  have a funky soft rock sound that makes them accessible to the more pop orientated mainstream market but also a favourite of indie music fans. The big single for them this year was the incredible ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’ – the jerky and jumpy guitars, bluesy bass and drums all intertwine at the most unexpected moments to create a unique Haim sound. Middle sister and lead singer Danielle stylishly and soulfully croons her way through the track backed up by oldest sister Este licking the whole song with infectious basslines all while youngest sister Alana twangs and bends notes on lead guitar.

Bombay Bicycle Club – Carry Me

I know, I know, I’m returning to Bombay Bicycle Club again but I actually had to limit the amount of songs from their new album I was going to include in this blog. Their lead single ‘Carry Me’ is a majestic dancey, futuristic stramash of samples and synth beats. ‘Carry Me’ incorporates everything that is great about Bombay’s new sound. The brass, the percussion, the synth and the echoing hushed female vocals all complimented perfectly by Steadman’s catchy line: ‘you carry me’. As soon as I heard this song I knew they were on to something special with their new album. I think they’d been listening to Chvrches when they wrote this one! If you’re a fan of Chvrches or like all the new synth pop stuff we’re hearing at the moment from former guitar heroes like Coldplay and Kasabian then you’ll love ‘Carry Me’.

Paolo Nutini – Recover (Chvrches Cover)

I’m gonna be wrapping things up now just as I started with a local boy from my home town of Paisley – Paolo Nutini. Not that I’m biased or anything but the guy can do no wrong at the moment. His comeback album was a roaring success, he’s lit up festivals all across the country so far this summer and he’s not bad at the old covers either. In a recent BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge performance Nutini covered Chvrches ‘Recover’ and completely transformed it, making it his own and even incorporating it into his sets. The original song is very sharp, electronic and atmospheric whereas Paolo’s version is elegant, brooding and full of emotion. He seems to change the tone of the song and give the lyrics new meaning. A superb cover!

Paolo Nutini – Iron Sky

Who needs an official video when your live session version is as good as this? I’m gonna leave you with what is undoubtedly my favourite song of 2014 so far. Just watch and enjoy the artistry and performance of Paolo Nutini as he belts out the intense, political and powerful ‘Iron Sky’. The sample of Charlie Chaplin from The Great Dictator, the lyrics “mass confusion spoon fed to the blind, serves now to define our cold society”. Simply stunning. Just wow. Enjoy…

Peace

C x

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Start Of It All! My Top 10 Tracks Of The Year So Far


Top 10 Songs of 2014 So Far…

So this will be the first of a series of posts introducing all the writers here to all of you guys! It will also give you a chance to understand all of our different tastes and preferred sounds! Just to quickly introduce myself I’m Will and as is the same most of us here, I am a student at Nottingham Trent. While being there my music taste has has been changed forever and influenced by everybody I have met. However, my main love is Hip-Hop from the Chief Keefs of this world to the MF DOOMs so with that being said lets start this off!

2013 was a big year in the world of music, and in particular it was a massive year for Hip-Hop. With hugely anticipated releases finally arriving from artists such as Kanye West, Jay-Z and Pusha T just to name a few, it’s safe to say 2013 would be a very hard year to top in the world of music. However 2014 has thus far given its best shot, with some unexpected releases, brilliant new artists and brewing rivalries beginning to boil through. With that in mind I thought now, the middle of the year, would be a great time to share my top 10 highlights of the year so far in the world of Hip-Hop.

ScHoolboy Q- Gangsta

So let’s jump right into the list with possibly my favourite song of 2014 so far, coming from the west coast TDE Black Hippy member ScHoolboy Q, Gangsta. Coming off the highly anticipated and critically acclaimed album Oxymoron, Gangsta is the opening track and immediately sets the tone for the whole album. A dark, hard-hitting track with some heavy head nodding bass, describing ScHoolboy’s surroundings and life while growing up. Ranging from his evolution from simply carrying a gun while broke, up to his full on gangster life of robberies and drug dealing, it’s an interesting listen that give us a small insight into the world of a Hoover Crip. From the opening lines “Fuck rap, my daddy a gangsta” spoken by his daughter right to the last YAWK! Gangsta is a thrilling song that captures the real gangsta rap we haven’t truly seen since the days of Ice Cube, well worth a listen for Hip-Hop fans everywhere!

Isaiah Rashad- RIP Kevin Miller

Moving on to another one of my top songs of the year so far we have RIP Kevin Miller by Isaiah Rashad. For those who haven’t heard of Isaiah Rashad before he is newest member of the TDE family, which as previously mentioned, houses the likes of ScHoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and SZA. A young rapper from Tennessee, Rashad has really begun to show his potential within the TDE label. The first of six releases promised by the TDE founder Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, Isaiah’s release the Cilvia Demo was somewhat of an unknown quantity as the focus for the album continued to change as time went by, but in January of this year the whole album was released and was a great success critically which will in due course hopefully lead to greater exposure for an artist perhaps stuck a little bit in the shadow of fellow TDE members. But I digress the song I’ve chosen from the album is RIP Kevin Miller, with an almost hazy and nostalgic feel to the beat it compliments Isaiah Rashad’s harder hitting flow, it fits perfectly together to create a quite brilliant song describing typical life in Tennessee, while at the same time outlining his plans for the future to be one the best. Not only is the beat impressive but the way in which Isaiah Rashad has altered his flow to be a little faster really fits the song very well, and finally my favourite part of the song, my favourite hook for the year “Y’all live for bitches and blunts. We live for weed and money” is guaranteed to catch your ear and have you singing it wherever you may be!

Bishop Nehru- Warm Up Sessions SBTV

This is a bit of cheat choice as this song is actually a freestyle done for YouTube channel SBTV by the Bishop Nehru. Bishop Nehru is a very MC hailing from New York and at only 17 years old he’s making some serious waves in Hip-Hop, with three mixtapes already under his belt and a collaborative effort with the ever elusive MFDOOM coming shortly, the future looks very bright indeed. So this brings me to the freestyle, one of the Warm Up Sessions on SBTV has Nehru going in over the classic J Dilla “Life” beat which suits him down to a tee. He flows effortlessly over the beat displaying a maturity well beyond his years. He is a part of an up and coming group of MCs all coming out of New York it really is an exciting time for east coast rap. Give Bishop Nehru a listen and I’m sure you’ll become an instant fan!

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib- Thuggin’

Upon hearing of the collaboration between Freddie Gibbs and Madlib I wasn’t sure what to expect, Gibbs a gangsta rapper formerly associated with Jeezy and his CTE label, more accustomed to trap beats than the slower more sample heavy beats masterfully crafted by Madlib. However it comes off brilliantly, Freddie Gibbs never misses a step he is constantly on point, while at the same time the beat crafted by Madlib is a thing of beauty, the Rubba sample is excellent and helps to emphasise Freddie Gibbs’ flow over the whole song. For me it has to be one of the best collaborations of the year and Thuggin’ perfectly summarises what makes them so good together.

Rejjie Snow- Black Pancakes

We keep on moving with the list with the Irish MC Rejjie Snow and his tune Black Pancakes. As people may be able to tell from my list so far and by the end of this list, I am a big fan of J Dilla and MF DOOM, and in this song both of their influences are clear. The beat has an eerie almost haunting sample combined with some booming drums coming in hard it’s great to listen to. That brings me to the next part Rejjie’s rhyming and lyrical wordplay are up there with the best around, in this song his voice almost sounds like he is narrating the beat for you in a dream like state. It is favourite of mine for this year and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more from this talented MC in the future.

Flatbush Zombies- My Team Supreme 2.0

Flatbush Zombies are a trio out of Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, who are killing the game right now. Even though they have only released two mixtapes thus far, both have been unbelievable. After their first release D.R.U.G.S brought forward huge singles such as “Thug Waffle” and “Face-Off” there second outing a mixtape called BetterOffDEAD was released and along with it “My Team Supreme 2.0” a certified banger featuring Bodega Bamz, it is a piano driven sound that fits perfectly with the current Beast Coast movement going on at the moment in the New York area. With all three members plus Bamz all contributing a verse each there is plenty to enjoy here. Beginning with my favourite part of the song the first verse from Eric Ark Elliott aka the Architect, who also produces the song, does himself justice with his bars delivering a memorable opening salvo and does no harm to his burgeoning production reputation with the whole song’s production. Meech comes in in classic fashion with his booming and distinct voice which is always a highlight, his lyrical ability is on point as per usual as well. One small downside in my opinion is Bamz’ verse, for me it simply detracts from the others who are far better in my opinion and far more memorable. Juice finishes the song with switched up flow so far different from his usual style it shows his willingness to experiment something becoming less and less frequent in the modern hip-hop world. Anyway give it a listen and let us know what you think!

Drake- Trophies

What can be said about Drake that hasn’t already been said, quite simply the hottest MC in the game at the moment and he shows no signs of slowing down every track he touches with his Midas touch turns tracks into instant hits, prime example is bringing Soulja Boy back into the public eye by jumping in on the track “We Made It”. But back to the track “Trophies” once again kills it, it begins with some triumphant celebratory trumpets accompanied by Drake describing his accomplishments and generally boasting about his life, which may sound too arrogant and perhaps too easy for such a talented rapper, but somehow he makes it work with complete ease and instils a feeling of confidence into you just from listening to it. He almost gives the feeling as if you are sharing his accomplishments with him during the track. The narrative does shift however all of sudden the trumpets fade out and a synth comes in, leading to Drake declaring that he’s not necessarily doing everything for the trophies, but actually to provide for himself, family and friends something that doesn’t come with an award. As we all know Drake is fire right now so give it a listen and see what you think.

NehruvianDOOM- Darkness (HBU)

Another entry here from Bishop Nehru but this time it’s a part of the collaboration with MF DOOM known as NehruvianDOOM. This is the first release from the duo’s upcoming effort, and if Darkness is anything to go by then WOW! It’s going to be amazing. The beat composed by DOOM and has Nehru spitting hard on it, a classic DOOM-style beat that to me feels like the end of a heist movie with the robbers escaping a true extravaganza that bodes well for their future. Their chemistry is clearly on point and hope to hear soon some DOOM and Nehru trading bars on a trademark villainous beat!

Drake- 0 to 100

Another Drizzy track makes my list for top 10 hip-hop of 2014 so far… and this time it’s the banger 0 to 100 produced by Boi-1da. Boi-1da, who has worked with artists such as Eminem, works his magic here again with a classic beat that just about everyone has remixed or covered. With some serious drums and a short guitar sample the beat suits Drake impeccably. He kills it and the streak continues and he is now arguably the hottest artist in all of music let alone just hip-hop.

ScHoolboy Q- Man of the Year

So here we are the final entry and as they start as you mean to finish, so as such I have to complete my list with a track from my artist and album of the year so far ScHoolboy Q and his album Oxymoron. The track “Man of the Year” was one of the flagship singles for the album and it doesn’t disappoint. A definite party tune, it has Q simply enjoying life on a crazy good beat that after watching the video makes me think of summer and good times, very good times (just watch the video!). Perhaps a bit of a step away from the gangsta side of things, it’s a funkier side to ScHoolboy Q not really seen before and it comes off very well. At the end of the day I could have put 10 songs from Oxymoron on the list I liked the album that much and would implore anyone who has read this to listen to the whole album in my opinion it’s a masterpiece. But give “Man of the Year” a listen and I’m sure it will convince you!

And So It Begins…


Just a brief introduction to the blog! This is going to be a music blog compiled by eight people with various different tastes in music. With most of us either being at uni or having just finished at uni, we are all exposed to a huge amount of music, most of which the majority of people have never heard of! We decided it’s time to make an amazingly varied source of music that will appeal to everybody’s differing tastes in music, and hopefully expose you to some tunes you wouldn’t have thought of listening to before!!! It will be updated daily by one of our authors so keep your eyes and ears open and we won’t disappoint, keep checking back with us we have got some really exciting things coming up! WS