REVIEW: Kodaline at O2 Apollo, Manchester

SOFT alternative rock quartet Kodaline performed at the O2 Apollo Manchester last night for thethird night in their ‘Coming Up For Air’ tour, was there to review the evening as a Quays News reporter.

Read what I had to say here: http://quaysnews.net/index.php/2015/12/06/review-kodaline-at-o2-apollo-manchester/

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Darren Ellis (Self-Titled)

Taking influences from Paolo Nutini and Damien Rice, Darren Ellis strips back the songs on his self titled debut album making the focus good riffs, clear vocals and relatable lyrics. With catchy potential singles such as Make Your Own Luck, Twenty Something, and Let Your Hair Down, it’s no surprise that Alan Raw, of BBC Introducing West Yorkshire, snatched up his tracks to be played live on their radio station after listening to them, before booking him for the radio show. He played two tracks live, and another from the album.  Ever humble, Ellis publicly thanked him, demonstrating that he has manners of gold as well as talent.

Based in West Yorkshire, the musician performs to his audiences content all over the place, with upcoming gigs located in Batley, Bingley and even Halifax’s very own Fake Festival.

Vocalist, guitarist, producer, song writer, it really seems like indie folk musician Darren Ellis can do it all. With dedication and a humble personality paired with all the latter attributes, he’s one to watch.

Ahead of its release, here’s my review of his self titled album:

aalbumcoverOne of the tracks played on the radio, and my personal favourite Let Your Hair Down, has a catchy riff that acts a motif throughout the track and consequently throughout the day of anyone who listens to the song. Believe me, I can’t get it out of my head. But that’s bonus, it’s a feel good song about an individual who forgets all their cares and lives in the moment, and for the four minutes it plays, the listener gets a chance to escape into a world where they can do the same. I especially like the part in the track where most of the instruments fade out, faintly leaving the guitar motif and the light ping of the ride cymbal, so that the verse lyrics really stand out. Afterwards, both instruments continue to get louder raising to a crescendo before a drum beat announces the penultimate chorus.

Close second, Limelight will undoubtedly make any listener bop their head along with the tune. The bass line is genius, the lyrics catchy, and the whole track has a jazzy feel to it. It carries an important message about doing something for yourself rather than the attention it will gain you, and makes listeners think about their own experiences and what the case is for them. Positioned seventh on the album listing, I feel it is underrated by the artist, and that’s what makes it an original hidden gem.

Make Your Own Luck, is another feel good track with a summery vibe to it. The lyrics are relaxed, with the occasional rocky twist thanks to on/off rough vocals that really stress the opening line and chorus.  Like the latter, it features catchy riffs, however the rhythm differs from verse to verse, making the track more complex to tap your foot to. It’s a track that should be taken as it comes and just enjoyed without thinking too much into. Perfect for listening to in the car with the roof down on the way to the beach or a campout.

Twenty Something will be a hit, as Darren Ellis’ song writing picks up on the relatable scenario of getting older and having to worry about having to “get a house, get a job, get a car, [and] get a wife”, and in doing so sacrificing opportunities and having dreams stunted. The lyrics suggest that the latter may not be the end game and that there’s always time to change your life. It’s something listeners, especially of that age range, want to hear, and that’s why I believe it will be extremely successful as a single in its own right as well as on the album.

Fully Grown then slows down the tempo of the album, demonstrating Ellis’ versatility as a musician, and changes the tone to one of reflection rather than careless fun. It is heartfelt and personal, and I’m sure many listeners will be able to relate to it. It’s one of those songs that people should listen to on the way home from a fun outing just to make the come down more reflective than sad, and maybe send the passengers into a gentle sleep, remembering their day but dreaming of the future.

Folk song Jack is disjointed and seems to me that it features too many clashing instruments. However, the song reminds me of confessional poetry so I imagine that’s what the artist was going for. Jack’s life being homeless is described as disjointed in the lyrics so it would not have made sense to tackle the tracks subject matter any other way. The song is not necessarily my cup of tea, but I applaud Daniel Ellis for the cleverness in what he was attempting and hope that other people appreciate it.

War Song too has a unique sound with its arrangement of clashing instruments and warped guitar riffs. Again, it’s clever, as the song is anti-war, and the clashing seems to represent the conflict of interests that causes war in the first place, hence in a way mocking it. It’s a song that tells listeners to look within themselves and test their morals about whether they see war and whether they view it as a positive or negative.

Potential fast paced free track Strobelight sees Darren Ellis collaborating with rapper Jay Parch. The contrast in their voices did the song justice, with the harmonies and rounds sounding on point. It’s different to the usual rap songs due to the unusual pairing of rapper and vocalist, and that gives it a leg up in the competition. The song in my opinion should definitely be used as a bonus track, as not only does it sound good, but it will also bring a new audience to the album.

The album is set to become available to the public via iTunes in June, with additional yet-to-be-finished track See You On The Other Side so keep your eyes peeled.

You can hear his tracks on his Soundcloud, but the full album is available to buy on iTunes and Google play for a small yet reasonable price. Like Darren Ellis Music on Facebook for his latest updates.

Rae Coppola

BAND REVIEW: The Rook

Four piece Bradford band The Rook always impress with their original take on then classic rock and blues music genre. Their composing combines tight rhythms with unique vocals and strong lyrics, all of which work together to create a foot tapping, head bopping, tune that captures the attention of the audience. The consistently good performance by singer Dane Vear, guitarist Jacob Briggs, bassist Andrew Collinson and drummer Sam Shepherd, means this is a space to be watched. Until then however, The Rook continue to play local gigs and get good feedback from venues, audiences, and even the newspapers.

 “This 4 piece band are one of the favourites around this bar” – Delius Lived Next Door, Bradford.

“Indie rockers who sounded like they have been a band for years despite their young age” – Telegraph and Argus.

1397223_810514572344108_762170961625646092_oEveryone and anyone that has the pleasure of seeing them will instantly get the impression that all members of the group are down to earth, simply from the inevitable banter between songs. The occasional broken string, dropping of an instrument, or funny concentration face can be forgiven, as they are simply four normal young men still learning and hoping for a break in the music industry, and having the time of their life in the process. As of this, regardless of the positive feedback and comments, the four piece remain modest and humble, always thanking the audience for their participation and the venues for allowing them to play.

After seeing the four piece perform numerous times and hearing them played on BCB Radio, I’ve found ‘Apollo’ to be my personal favourite, with ‘Own Blues’ acting as a close second. Punk rock tune ‘Apollo’ can get anyone dancing with it’s catchy yet slick rhythm thanks to a tight guitar motif that adds a groovy swing to it, whilst ‘Own Blues’ features catchy riffs that build up to a crescendo before pausing and letting the chorus lyric really stand out. The latter takes confidence as both the band and singer, Dane, have to trust each other to stop and start in time, or risk messing up.

The quartet continue to work on creating individual music to fit in with their sound, and have a recording session booked with hopes to release a new EP soon. While you’re waiting, recently released song ‘Whistle in the Wind’ is available on iTunes for download, thanks to the band winning the Amp Awards 2014 competition after impressing professional judges in variety of ‘battle of the bands’ heats. “It’s been a real buzz winning the award,” says guitarist Jacob Briggs, 20. That and the rest of their tracks are available to listen to for free on their SoundCloud page (see below).

The Rook have truly made a name for themselves on the Yorkshire gig circuit and have showcased their talent in top venues including: Sheffield O2, The Cockpit, St. George’s Hall and Brudenell Social Club. Their all time favourite performance, according to bassist Andrew Collinson, was their first time playing at the now close down, Leeds Cockpit supporting The Vendettas, due to the scale and atmosphere amongst the crowd.  Catch them next, again, playing alongside The Vendettas, at Double Denim Live, Verve Bar Leeds on the 24th April (https://www.facebook.com/events/766807730070200/). It’s no lie when I say you’ll be in for a treat.

To keep up with the latest band news and gig announcements you can follow them on Facebook – www.facebook.com/therooksound and Twitter – https://twitter.com/therooksound.

Rae Coppola

Workout Motivational Playlist

As I’ve finally worked up the nerve to become a routine member at a gym, I thought I’d share my motivation playlist. Similarly to how darts players enter the arena with a walk on song, I feel the same treatment is needed for a trip to the sports centre, and through the duration of a workout. Especially since what better tool for motivation is there than music? I’ve found songs with fast choruses to be the most useful, as those are the moments fitness enthusiasts, such as myself, up both their game and their speed. They are perfect for when you find yourself at a crossroads and really need that extra push.

As you can see, I’ve only added 15 songs. This is because at over three minutes each, the songs average out to more than 50 minutes in total and therefore the playlist itself acts as a rough time guide as well as motivation to stay at the gym for a specific length. I’m sure once my body gets used to going to the gym I’ll add more songs and stay there for longer, but for now, I’m more than happy with this list.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here it is:

  • Survivor – Eye of the Tiger

An absolute must have when it comes to getting all pumped up for a workout. The catchy rhythm allows the listener to maintain a constant speed, and the punchy riffs could make anyone want to move, all before the fitness blasting chorus kicks in. If it’s good enough for Rocky Balboa during his boxing training, it’s good enough for me.

  • Reel 2 Real – I Like To Move It

A song repeatedly telling you to move it, it’d be near impossible not to listen.

  • Blur – Song 2

The upbeat singalong tune acts as the perfect motivator. It has fast paced rhythms whereby individuals can really pick up the pace, and then the song even rewards you with “woohoo’s”.

  • Anastasia – To Be Left Outside Alone
  • Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor

I bet you definitely will post workout.

  • Bon Jovi – It’s My Life

  • Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out
  • Montell Jordan – This Is How We Do It
  • Eminem – Lose yourself

Lose yourself in the moment, lose weight at the same time. What could go wrong?

  • Katrina and the Waves – Walking On Sunshine
  • Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name

Anger is a great motivator, and RATM use thrash metal to portray their distaste for political authority and fitness enthusiasts can transfer that energy into something positive and make the most of their workout.

  • The Prodigy – Omen
  • Foo Fighters – The Pretender
  • Kaiser Chiefs – I Predict a Riot
  • James Brown – I Feel Good

The ultimate feel good song that’s the perfect way to end a gym session. It highlights how good you feel within yourself after completing a workout and getting a step closer to your fitness goal.

Rae Coppola

DOUBLE DENIM LIVE: Verve Bar Leeds

Verve Bar, Leeds, never disappoints when it comes to their free entry Double Denim Live music fuelled evenings. The Mexican themed bar offers free tequila for the first 30 entrants and showcases a variety of tried and tested local bands. As a night of good music and better company is inevitable, it’s no surprise Double Denim Live has been dubbed Leeds best indie/rock and roll live music club night.

The gigging room itse11139524_10206518164975178_1494453962_nlf is of a small size, yet this does not in anyway limit the atmosphere within the crowd. If anything, the close knit proximity of the audience creates a united front of support for the band playing, and can even help create friendship bonds with music as common ground. However, if you happen to go to the upstairs bar for a drink, or to the bathrooms, you may have a fight on your hands trying to get back into the basement area, especially on a busy night. Andrew Collinson, bassist of The Rook, even struggled re-entering the busy room, regardless of how his fellow band members were already setting up for their performance.

Organisers Mick and Chantel go the extra mile with the weekly events, by plugging the gigs all over social media, as well as advertising the bands themselves regarding any of their other approaching gigs.

Up and coming band City of Ashes have even labelled them “the most supportive promoters in the county”.

The latter makes it is clear that the organisers care for them and want to see the local bands go far. Four piece indie rock outfit Catfish and the Bottlemen, whom were signed soon after playing at the venue are a prime example, as the pair continue to support their music by playing their album and announcing the tours to show how proud they are of their success.

Recently, the team hosted two all-day events, that showcased exceptional talent from a range of original bands who travelled from all over the UK to be exposed to jam packed audiences. They are likely to already be discovering or holding on to and nurturing the next big thing, and I’m sure they will be repaid by the bands they have helped in due course.

If I were you, I’d attend an event and sign the strong petition to have a Double Denim Live stage designated to the amazing duo at Leeds and Reading Festival. Watch this space.

Rae Coppola

Foo Fighters Tour – Stadium vs. Arena

Being a fan of the Foo Fighters and a happy customer who bought and loved their new album, I was stoked to find out they were touring in the UK – around the time of my birthday too, what more could a girl want? The concert was set to be top notch, with sound support lined up from Royal Blood so I was beyond excited. I’d even researched and found out that Dave Grohl, when asked why he had his mindset on asking the (at the time) up and coming band to perform with them, had this to say:

However, my bubble was shortly burst when it became evident that the venues were few and far between, and all of them were stadiums. In the United States, the Foo Fighters are touring in arena venues, so the question of why British fans are missing out is a complete mystery.

The price for stadium concerts is significantly more expensive than those performed in arenas, meaning it wasn’t viable to put on my birthday list, and even if I was fortunate enough to be subject to one for a present, I’d have a task finding someone willing to cough up and come with me. I say present, because on a student budget of course I couldn’t justify buying one myself. Also, if you’re unlucky enough to commit to the concert after the tickets have sold out, you’ll be looking at tickets costing in their hundreds from people on sales websites, purely because it’s a stadium tour, and sellers know they can charge what they want for decent seats.

The Old Trafford concert itself, the one closest to my university lodgings, seemed ideal. However, the doors open at 4pm. Regardless of whether this is just for people to get inside and settled, or the time the support band were to play, it was still far too early for a concert. Especially one on a weekday. In my experience, before a concert individuals like to have time to get ready, and maybe get in a sociable drink or two, not rush around, and have to set off without having time to eat a hearty meal for tea. Those who are working average 9-5’s or in education until half 3, have no chance of arriving for the unreasonable time posted. An average arena concert usually has doors open at around half 7pm, 4pm is ridiculous.

Taken from briansimpsons.wordpress.com
Taken from briansimpsons.wordpress.com

Also, being a stadium, the pitch and seating areas are prone to whatever weather issues that may suffice. Imagine getting dressed up to watch your favourite band in hopes they notice you in the crowd, and coming home with a cold, or worse, pneumonia, from the rain, as well as a see through white top.

From my knowledge of music and acoustics the fact that the sound quality in a stadium isn’t great was another thing that put me off. Music reverberating off 20,000 or so plastic seats is bound to have warped sound, especially in comparison to a smaller inside venue. Those situated further away from the stage will not only not get the full experience of the show, but also not even be able to see it very well unless the concert is being viewed overhead with a camera phone, or by looking at the screens. With that in mind, what even is the point in paying for an overpriced ticket.

As you can guess, I’ve not bought a ticket, and as much as I enjoy the Foo Fighters, I’d rather listen to them from the comfort of my own home, than spend a fortune to be late to looking at them on a different screen with worst acoustics, outside, in the rain.

Rae Coppola

EP REVIEW: James Robinson – Start a Fire

In his new EP, Brighton born singer songwriter James Robinson demonstrates his raw talent through acoustic renditions of original songs, based on his own personal experiences.

James said: “It’s real, and I hope people will grasp that.”

With his enticing vocals it’s no surprise that he has been played on BBC Introducing, and favorably compared to vocalists such as Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Ed Sheeran and Jake Bugg.

The title track ‘Start a Fire’, my personal favourite, puts listeners through their paces with clever songwriting that gives a deep and reflective message of how trial and error shapes identity.  Robinson’s strong lyrical imagery also thrusts them back to childhood memories; a time where all that mattered was living in the moment. Albeit simple and stripped back, the scene is brought to life by a melodic tune, catchy percussion rhythm and an ‘ooh-ooh-ooh’ based chorus that makes singing along inevitable.

The next song, ‘Demons‘, acts as a turning point in the EP. It has a much slower placed arrangement that changes the mood from upbeat to chilled in an instant. Robinson maintains the gentle tone to his voice, but this time uses it to encourage listeners that their hardships will, as the lyrics say ‘wither away’.

‘Some and Ashes‘ follows suit, again with the singer songwriter drawing on his own experience to offer encouragement, all the while suggesting that struggles are only temporary and how important it is to power on through them. I can only imagine that the song would be all the more powerful live, as even the studio versions appear to be directed at you and you alone.

The ‘Start a Fire’ EP is available for partial free download, or in full for a small price at: http://jamesrobinsonmusic.bandcamp.com/album/start-a-fire

Rae Coppola