This Weeks Music Video with Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, The Weeknd, Laura Marling, Little Dragon, Spoon, ZHU and NAO

Musicandotherthingz Best Act of 2016

This year we’ve added a popular vote to determine your best act of the year. The list of nominees was compiled from the popular reaction each act received from articles they’ve been featured on. We had a great response from you all so thank you for getting involved! 

David Bowie’s legendary impact both in his death, but also with a wonderfully evocative album in Blackstar. Beyoncé would have featured more widely across the other categories had she made her music more widely available. She had a landmark year with a bold album in Lemonade and bold performances. Christine and the Queens swept on to the scene on the back of huge commercial and critical success in France with thought provoking lyrics and functional music. With well performing singles and a large fan base, The Weeknd fared well in the vote, seeking greater depth in his sound. 

Owen Riddle 

This Weeks Music Video with Beyoncé, The XX, Anhoni, Laura Marling, Tove Lo, OK GO and White Lies

This Weeks Music Video with Beyoncé, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Bat For Lashes, SOHN and Pixies

This Weeks Music Video with Beyoncé, Portishead, Sigur Rós, Aphex Twin, Deerhoof, Wolf Alice and Porches

Beyoncé – Lemonade Review 

 Beyoncé is back with her sixth studio album and for it she has took a rather different approach. The title “Lemonade” comes from her grandmother-in-law Hattie White, who stated on her 90th birthday that “I had my ups and downs, but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up. I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.” This theme of struggle is one that resonates strongly in the album, whether it be a story of a man who cheated on his loving partner or the story of a young black woman growing up in the United States. The album deserves props for this and it brings forward a lot of real world issues into the mainstream.  

​Musically, it gets even more interesting. The album itself didn’t really release any main singles as it was all made available on Tidal at the same time. However, the “main” song on the album is arguably ‘Hold Up’, a different sort of song than you’d usually hear from a Beyonce album. The song has a nice, soft reggae backing beat that leaves the focus on the lyrics and what they stand for. The song is about the betrayal a woman feels after a man cheats on her, which if the allegations are true, comes from a very personal experience by Knowles. The experience transcribes into some well written, somewhat disjointed lyrics that fit seamlessly with the simple beat. When you look at the writers of ‘Hold Up’ , there is an impressive line up of various styles. From Father John Misty to Soulja Boy to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and even Mort Shuman, who co-wrote Elvis’ ‘Viva Las Vegas’. This collection of impressive writers carries on throughout the album and makes for some impressive music.

​’Freedom’ is an impressive song and arguably the best on the album. The song features a sound that Beyonce fans will be more familiar with, but it’s done so efficiently even non-fans can’t help but like it. It features Kendrick Lamar, a man who can’t seem to do any wrong at the moment, and his impressive form carries over into a song that will undoubtedly leave the listener more pumped up after listening. The song is backed by some impressive production before bursting into a choir-like chorus symbolising the desperation of Black America the song is ultimately about. ‘6-inch’ featuring the Weeknd (and co-written by Panda Bear no less) is an electronic song that is again, efficiently produced and feels more like a dance song than anything on the album. However the lyrically its fairly ironic, telling a tale of a stripper and what she goes through in this line of work, whilst also sounding like something that arguably could be played in a club environment. ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ featuring Jack White is also really good, with White providing the album with yet more brilliant diversity.

​This is not to say that every song is perfect. The music of ‘Love Drought’ and ‘Sorry’ isn’t really up to the standard of the rest of the album and ‘Forward’ sounds good, but James Blake feels too much like a cameo appearance and it leaves for more to be desired. Nevertheless, whether is the soft acoustic sound of ‘Sandcastles’ or the rock-song sounding ‘All Night’ there is something for everyone on this album. The range of music on the album is very impressive and Knowles has surrounded herself with some of the best writers around today and even co-wrote with some accredited Rock-and-Roll and Blues writers to create some truly fantastic sounds. The themes are appropriate and relevant and adds an important layer of depth. ‘Lemonade’ is definitely not perfect but it’s a very strong outing by Knowles. When you look at the creative team that went into making the album, it hardly comes as a surprise.

Beyoncé – Lemonade = 9/10

Matthew T. Johnston 

This Weeks Music Video with Beyonce, The Dead Weather, Parquet Courts, BAIO and Junior Boys

 

 

 

 

Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams Review

Coldplay have long been a staple of the British pop/rock scene, having formed in 1996 by lead vocalist Chris Martin. After undergoing various name changes in their early years, from Pectoralz to Starfish, the band finally settled on Coldplay in 1998, before recording and releasing three EP’s before recording and releasing three EPs: ‘Safety’ in 1998, ‘Brothers & Sisters’ as a single in 1999 and ‘The Blue Room’ in the same year. ‘The Blue Room’ was their first release on a major label, after signing to Parlophone. The band have since gone on to become world superstars, touring the globe, winning numerous awards and releasing several chart topping albums to critical acclaim. Now on their seventh album ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ the band are back with a bang, amid reports that this could be their final album.

The whole album is in stark contrast to the bands previous album ‘Ghost Stories’ released in 2014, which was a sombre affair dealing without the fallout from Chris Martins conscious uncoupling. The songs that feature throughout have a more upbeat feel, take for example the first single if the album, ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’ an upbeat pop number, taking in elements of dance music alongside the well known sounds that the band have become synonymous with. The album plays host to diverse range of featured artists such as Beyoncé, Noel Gallagher and Norwegian pop producers Stargate showing that Coldplay are one of a few bands that could put these artists together on an album, let alone do it with positive outcomes. The whole feel of the album is a more upbeat Coldplay to the one we heard on 2104’s ‘Ghost Stories’ the cumulative effect of the upbeat, positivity heard throughout the album is not dissimilar to that of a sugar coated pill to wash away the bitter taste of the bands last album. The album represents some of the most satisfying songs the band have wrote for years, showing a different side, albeit with the signature Coldplay sound, the band has to offer.

For all the differences the album has to the bands previous offering you could say that the reinvention doesn’t quite go far enough, songs such as ‘Everglow’ never quite materialize on the promised pop takeover of Stargate. It only takes two minutes and 20 seconds into the opening track, ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ before you find the first anthemic “oh-woah”, something of a Coldplay trademark. Overall the album offers a different sound to that of the bands last album, and does go someway to show a different side to the pop outfit, it doesn’t however push the boundaries far enough for the album to be seen as a total reinvention, at times still drawing upon the classic Coldplay sound, which arguably means another good album but not one that pushes the bands sound entirely in a new direction.

Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams = 6/10

 

 

Matthew Kay

MUSIC NEWS – Grammys, Kanye West embarrasing himself, Noel Gallagher ranting and Paul McCartney collaborating

Album of the Year

The 2015 Grammy’s saw Sam Smith clean up as expected with four awards including Record and Song of the year, Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album for an artist with undoubted vocal talent and ability with the final two categories being very much deserved. Album of the year for which Sam Smith and Beyoncé were nominated, was won by Beck for his excellent Morning Phase (Not only did we give the album full marks but we put the album 2nd on a list of the year’s best albums) who also picked up Best Rock Album. The album also received Best Engineered, Non Classical Album and is a credit to Beck who played a monumental amount of the instruments on the album. Pharrell Williams picked up three Grammys for Best Video, Urban album and Pop performance whilst Aphex Twin won Best Electronic/Dance album which no one can complain about along with Jack White’s award for Best Rock Performance for Lazaretto. Best Altervative album went to St. Vincent’s self-titled masterpiece (we gave it full marks and put it top of out best albums of 2014 list) which was probably the most deserving of the lot.

Another cringe worthy moment occurred for Kanye West as the already bemused Beck picked up the Album of the Year award. West leapt on to the stage, went to say something and then sat back down for what he later explained was annoyance of Beyoncé not receiving the award and attacking Beck for diminishing artistry. Apparently writing, recording and composing all you own music and playing a vast amount of the instruments on your own including conducting orchestral pieces diminishes artistry as opposed to not writing, composing, recording or playing any instrument independently like Beyoncé for the wonderful vocalist that she is. Indeed her self titled album has undoubtedly her best work yet and Beck himself thought she was going to win, but perhaps for once they went for substance over status. Something clearly hard to swallow for Kanye who can only dream of the capability Beck used to bring Morning Phase into fruition again for as talented as Kanye himself is. But if you read Kanye West quotes then he gives you the exact reason why Beck won.

Meanwhile Noel Gallagher has been speaking out (like he has been for the last twenty one years) about his view of the music industry. Alex Turner has been back in his sights and anything making those in the NME office squirm is always welcome. He said he’d rather drink petrol than listen to him talk in what was a wider rant about record labels removing artists independence which was a point reiterated by his negative comments about Ed Sheeran. His isolated points are pretty much a reflection of what we were all thinking anyway.

Paul McCartney has been busy in the studio with another project. This time it’s with Lady Gaga and follows up from what seems to be a sizeable influence on Kayne West’s new material and collaborations with video game Destiny.  He’s not known for standing still but he’s making himself known to yet another generation.

It’s a cover up! Beyonce/The Horrors – Best Thing I Never Had

Back in 2011 Beyoncé had released her fourth studio album which was shockingly called Four. From a large allocation of seven singles released throughout the latter half of 2011 and into 2012 of twelve that made up the album; ‘Best Thing I Never Had’ was one the album’s more successful tracks. It achieved a number three slot in the U.K singles chart and the song even got herself to number one in South Korea. It’s your typical  21st century piano ballad which Beyoncé is probably Queen of. The cascading piano is joined by the muted thump of the percussion and the chorus is ushered in by a razor-like power guitar riff and led out by the urgency of a string section. Like a lot of her songs, it is designed to showcase her powerful vocal ability and she duly delivers in hitting every rise, fall and peak.

Later on in the year, Southend-on-Sea’s The Horrors had turned up at Maida Vale studios for their turn on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge with the band still promoting their third studio album with Skying. In 2014, bassist Rhys Webb had talked of his admiration for artists such as Beyoncé and perhaps he picked out this track to cover back in 2011. Their version opens with a subtle angle of Joshua Hayward’s trademark guitar shred which is then collected by the more rapid and purposeful percussion and bass line as they speed up the tempo of the song compared to the original. On top of this is the muted oscillations of Tom Cowan’s synths and all of which is anchored down by Faris with his quaking, deep lying vocal. As the song progresses the guitar screeches and the synths grate of them. Independent of the driving bass and percussion. This version is a little more aggressive and expansive. What this version lacks in melody it makes up for with inventiveness as you would expect from The Horrors.