This Weeks Music Video with The Voidz, Tyler The Creator, The Vaccines, Leon Bridges, Bon Jovi and The Middle Kids

The Vaccines – Combat Sports Review

Three years ago, The Vaccines jumped on the synth-pop bandwagon with their release of English Graffiti, channelling the idea that the pining for eighties euphoria in indie groups was a winning formula. Not true; their third LP was a bit of a flop. Now, three years and two new bandmates later, the West London five-piece release an album reminiscent of their garage-guitar days, and is perhaps better than the initial sound that bought them their ticket to the bigtime. Welcome to Combat Sports.

Songs like Nightclub, Surfing in the Sky and Out On The Streets exemplify why Combat Sports is Come of Age sat on a red-hot flame. Sharp, clean guitar reigns, with thrashing chords topped with lyrics ready to be roared at festivals. The energy that bubbles in these tracks incite much more thrill than English Graffiti ever did. It reaches further into the Britpop era than anything else, with the stock British vocals bellowing brazen lyrics, but moulds the genre, adding fire to the tracks to make them all the more arena-worthy.

Despite the frequent growl of guitar, there are some softer numbers. Opener Put It On A T-Shirt recalls the no-nonsense indie of their earlier material most, with the more aggressive tones coming towards the end. Maybe (Luck of The Draw) precedes Young American. The former of the two reflects the Melody Calling EP’s twinkle, with piercing riffs and an ethereal sound. The lyrics are simpler – much like the overall track – but more heartfelt, and by no means boring. The latter is a seductive acoustic track that could easily have been a song Morrissey side-lined for his most recent release. The most stripped back on the album, it provides a nice break from the layers of heavy instrumentalism before jumping straight to Nightclub.

The shining star of the album, however, is I Can’t Quit; a stellar example of indie pop that glows without the over-use of synth. A track mostly whittled down to basics is the most fun, with lyrics that are completely infectious and hooks that are nowhere near genius but buoys a song that is effortlessly entertaining.

Combat Sports is exuberant, it’s clever, but also one of the most straightforward rock records I’ve heard in a while. Probably the best thing The Vaccines have ever done.

The Vaccines – Combat Sports: 9/10

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – The Vaccines – I Can’t Quit

Since The Vaccines’ last album English Graffiti, drummer Pete Robertson walked out, and Tim Lanham and Ioann Intonti walked in. And despite the switch up, the change in the band’s sound is only that of the clocks being turned back to 2011, as new single I Can’t Quit roars with the same powerful enthusiasm as their earliest anthems. Opening with a head-bopping intro to bass drum and guitar riff, it’s not long before the lyrics of the infectious hook come into play, prepared to take up permanent residence in your head, and even more prepared to sell out massive arena gigs. The lyrics aren’t necessarily sophisticated – this arena filling chorus is a repeated 6-word hook – but you can always rely on the now-5-piece for some straightforward alt-rock to put a smile on your face.

Eleanor Chivers

This Weeks Music Video with Mark Ronson, Mumford & Sons, The Libertines, Kendrick Lamar, The Vaccines, Lianne La Havas, Group Love and Cosmo Sheldrake

The Vaccines – English Graffiti Review

The Vaccines burst onto the scene in 2011 with their debut LP “What Did You Expect from the Vaccines” which was chock full of their trade mark up-beat, fun and catchy riffs typified by songs like” Noorgard” and “Wolf Pack”. Add to this the underrated lyrical talent of the bands song writer and front man Justin Young who was able to show off his ability to match catchy riffs with equally catchy lyrical hooks like on the chorus of “Noorgard”. The album’s title probably summed it up conclusively – this was to be what we would expect from the Vaccines (who didn’t exactly experiment a great deal with this effort) and indeed has proven to be their core sound.

They followed this up with what we can presume was supposed to be a redefinition of their sound with “Come of Age” (2012). The obvious implication being that the Vaccines had redefined themselves and their music would undergo some changes. Whilst there were small changes to their earlier effort, most notably a much more cleaned up production style but it was hardly the redefinition we were expecting. The LP was distinctly more moody and dark as well. The darker sound of songs like “Weirdo” and “Bad Mood” was offset with a much more sugary, bubble-gum pop tone in songs like “Aftershave Ocean”. Of course, that core Vaccine sound was still blatantly displayed on songs like “Teenage Icon” and “I Always Knew”. The album didn’t seem to quite know where it stood, the tonal inconsistencies and the reappearance of that typical sound made for what was overall, an OK album. That said, it was perhaps asking too much for them to have undergone a major change in direction only a year after their debut effort. This time there is no such excuse, three years after “Come of Age” we have “English Graffiti” will it be bubble-gum? Or will it be the redefining moment we have expected?

The singles they chose for releasing were very poor choices. Although it confirmed that the Vaccines can make some damn catchy indie tunes (which is something that they have excelled at throughout their career) it doesn’t show us their new and expanded musical pallet. The first single “Handsome” showed rather unsurprisingly that they can make these songs but hardly addressed the question above. Their second was somewhat more interesting, but hardly original. “Dream Lover” is straight out of Arctic Monkeys 2013 album “AM”. The highly distorted and simple riff is matched by the hip-hop-esque drumming. It seems like their definitely jumping on the “desert rock” bandwagon here but the verses have a touch of Arcade Fire in there. It’s anything but original, but it’s still pleasing on the ears.

More interesting is the 3rd track, “Minimal Affection”. A song laden with indie-electro pop with a Broken Bells edge to it and the guitar riff for the chorus is straight out of AM or even Casablancas’ solo album. “(All Afternoon) In Love” is a floaty laid back piano ballad, like a more up-beat Beck whilst “Denial” sees a far more blatant influence taken from Broken Bells. “Give Me A Sign” is straightforward pop song, but not in the way you’d think the Vaccines would go. This time they are incorporating some musical elements from the 80s (most notably with the lightly distorted guitar) and contemporary pop like One Direction. Yes, as bizarrely as this sounds it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary see one of Simon Cowell’s writers/producers come up with this song. “Undercover” feels like their token “arty” effort leaving a sophisticated 25 seconds of silence at the beginning before fading into what seems to be some guy just playing with the sliders on a big desk of buttons.

Core fans of that Vaccines sound have plenty to be satisfied about, “Handsome”, “Radio Bikini” and “20/20” (even if the last one sounds a wee bit more like Vampire Weekend) are typical of a sound that has long since bored me and suffers on anything more than a second listen. Fan service is important though. In short, the album is a great tribute act to any bands in the genre that are worth listening to in the last five or so years. The album is a great historiography for what contemporary “indie” music sounds like and is a great introduction for new listeners to “indie” music but is in no means a new start for music. Obviously, this is hugely frustrating for those of us who listen and love “indie” music anyway – it’s made me want to go listen to Broken Bells and Arcade Fire. You (like me) may will be racking your brain trying to think what their tracks sound (sometimes blatantly) and who (in most cases) does it better. If in twenty/thirty years your children ask you “Dad/Mum what did the 2010s sound like”, you can point them to this with ease. I’ll give the last words to the NME on this occasion (something I won’t be making a habit of), who aptly described it as “genre encompassing” rather than “genre defining” as Justin Young proclaimed it to be.

The Vaccines – English Graffiti = 7.5/10

Callum Christie   @ChristieCallum

Single Review – The Vaccines – Handsome

Nearly two months after sharing ‘Handsome’, you can now get your hands on the lead single from their upcoming third studio album English Graffiti. They’ll be hoping for a marked improvement on their first two offerings that were labelled by a variety of reviewers as ‘incoherent’ or ‘trudging’ and for me they were another addition to the factory line of Indie fodder without much originality from the music to the lyrics and everything in-between with the odd glint of something more promising. Surely it’s time to break the mould? ‘Handsome’ certainly has a similar energy that was the highlight of the previous tracks and the song’s progressions are rapid whilst helped through by the hand-claps and the fuzzy lead sections. Other than that though, it’s just a catchy bit of Indie ordinance and it seems that so far, this album will be similar to the first two.

This Week’s Music Video with Noel Gallagher, Sia, The Vaccines and ShirleySaid

Friday at Glastonbury

Friday was a crazy day at Glastonbury with a truly awesome line-up at every stage. The headline act on the Pyramid stage was of course Arctic Monkeys. They may have question marks about their musical and technical originality and innovation  which have not gone away with their new single, but they are a class act live and the band played a seamless set of old and new in which their sound was immaculate and Alex Turner had the crowd in the palm of his hands, especially with the string version of Mardy Bum. The whole showman gag was a bit daft but if you were an Arctic Monkeys fan then this set will have had your eyes glazed over and had you foaming at the mouth. For everyone else, you could appreciate a well oiled machine efficiently churning out hit after hit. Miles Kanes appearance was a bonus for the closing tune: 505. Anyone else was enjoying the Disco legend that was Nile Rodgers who was headlining the West Holts stage who has certainly attracted a fresh generation to his music thanks to his work with Daft Punk. ‘Get Lucky’ was just another song to add to his long list of hits which he played out with Chic. Also on the West Holts stage was Seasick Steve who also put on an excellent performance with his make shift instruments and with contributions from John Paul Jones on the bass. Foals played a decent set before Portishead came and captivated their audience in a very different way to the Arctic Monkeys.Headlining the Park Stage were The Horrors who as always played a dual set filled with moments of energy and consideration. Many flocked there to catch the odd new track off their always massively anticipated new album later this year. One or two were played but they are unamed as of now. They closed as usual with the drawn out frenzy that is ‘Moving Further Away’ and were a success like their fellow headliners.

However Crystal Castles on the John Peel stage were not. Their set was just 40 minutes and started 20 minutes late. Everyone usually revels in Alice Glass’ insane actions but the crowd were left a little cold after she mimiced strangling herself with the mic wire, apparently fainted and didn’t come back for an encore. Bastille gathered a large crowd that went beyond the tent for their set on that very stage ealier on in the day. However the crowds were even bigger for the 21st century mod that is Miles Kane. Wearing a Union Jack harrington jacket, Miles is perhaps one of the only people at Glastonbury who can pull off wearing a flag or wallpaper. Everyone else can forget it. He played a set full of urgency and raw energy as he switched from old to new in effortless fashion. He was joined by Alex Turner for a Last Shadow Puppets number for which Miles returned the favour later on. Alt J attracted a much bigger audience then perhaps everyone was expecting, including themselves as they played out much of their debut album.

Jake Bugg was at ease on the Pyramid stage in the afternoon with two new tunes and a cover of Neil Young’s ‘Hey Hey My My’ Even earlier than that were Haim in theif first appearance at the fesitval while Beady Eye were a little low key in opening the days proceedings. The Vaccines too, gathered a large crowd to showcase their two albums and their new track ‘Melody Calling’. Savages produced a faultless and high octane performance at the William’s Green stage and they smashed through a set that featured hits from their excellent album: Silence Yourself. That experience will be bigger and better today when they take on the John Peel stage. Tame Impala put on a great glam-psychedelic masterclass of which ‘Elephant’ was the centrepiece. Their deep sound would have better showcased in the John Peel tent but it was great nonetheless. Ghosts certainly turned a few heads with their mixture of sounds and face masks. After all that no one seemed to remember acts like Rita Ora who was certainly put in her place in being one of the only plastic pop acts presnet against a fantasic backdrop of a variety of skilled musicians from various genres. Expect the same today!

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