Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Music: Top 10 Albums of the Year

25. Anavae Dimensions
24. Tom Odell Long Way Down
23. Into It Over It Intersections
22. Pentimento Pentimento
21. Mallory Knox Signals
20. Chvrches The Bones Of What You Believe
19. Ben Marwood Back Down
18. Cold Crows Dead I Fear A New World
17. Citizen Youth
16. Senses Fail Renacer
15. Keaton Henson Birthdays
14. Turnover Magnolia
13. Deafeater Letters Home
12. Real Friends Put Yourself Back Together
11. Touché Amoré Is Survived By

10. The 1975 The 1975
So I got into The 1975 at some point last year and since then they’ve just exploded. They’re playing something ridiculous like three nights at Brixton and three nights in Manchester Academy. Anyway, this is a great album. It’s not something I’d usually listen to, but I think that helps its charm. A quick listen to radio 1 and everything sounds like it was written by Matthew Healy and co.

9.  Balance And Composure The Things We Think We’re Missing
So I got into this album pretty late in the year and what a waste of time before I had. It’s typical B&C and just as good. Balance are one of those bands that I always forget how good they are until I listen to them, and you have those “Oh my God, we should totally do this more often!” moments you get with friends. I’ll never leave you again Balance, I promise.

8. Fall Out Boy Save Rock And Roll
Fall Out Boy started the year on hiatus and ended it in the hearts of pretty much everybody again. Armed with nothing but songs they wrote before 'From Under The Cork Tree' and internet photos this album may be tongue in cheek but it’s also damn good. How can any album featuring Elton John and Courtney Love on consecutive tracks not be?

7. Paramore Paramore
So what with all the line-up changes in Paramore, and Hayley’s songwriting coming to the fore, it was a bit unknown what this album would actually bring. Anyway, it was very un-Paramore but still exceptionally good. After the Singles Club I was expecting pretty massive things and 'Now', 'Part II', and 'Future' are all amazing, even if the latter has a strange fade-out-in. I know many a person who has this higher in their list and that says something about the quality of it. Well done, Paramore.

6. Biffy Clyro Opposites

Biffy Clyro headlined Reading Festival this year. How mental is that? They’ve already been announced for Isle of Wight next year and they played a sold-out arena tour including a date at The O2. Basically, Biffy Clyro are massive now, so there was always a chance this album would be terrible and 'Many Of Horror'-y and I know many people thought that this was a regression in Biffy’s discography, but I love it, and I think it’s worthy of their new King of Rock status.

5. Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP2
So I really shouldn’t like this album. Middle-class boys from Berkshire tend to be brought up on something slightly more refined than Marshall Bruce Mathers III. 'Recovery' was good, and a return to form but damn. This is incredible. I love the callbacks to the first LP that are concealed in the freshly penned lines. Some, admittedly, not concealed at all. I think it’d be criminal to mention the album without mentioning 'Rap God'. Far and away the best thing on the record, basically taking a swing at everyone and everything but also, strangely, sees a softer side come out ("At least once in a while so I wanna make sure // Somewhere in this chicken scratch I scribble and doodle // Enough rhymes to maybe try to help get some people through tough times"). Technically it may not be the best rap album - and I really wouldn’t know - but it’s my favourite by quite a long way.

4. Transit Young New England
This album got a huge amount of stick when it was released and I still don’t really understand why. Sure, it’s not Transit of a few years ago but bands evolve. It’s not exactly been a great year for Boston either and in many ways these songs are made more poignant by their timing and context. ("Boston never drinks alone") It’s one of the only albums I actually forked out to get on vinyl and that should tell you enough. I love it a great deal.

3.  Frightened Rabbit Pedestrian Verse
I shan’t recount old Frightened Rabbit stories again but needless to say this record was pretty damn good. The first released through Atlantic, and I personally think FRabbit’s sound probably suits a major label, and off the back of it a date at Brixton Academy. The boys did good, the boys did very good. ALSO, shout out to 'Architect' which was probably the best song of the year (which was on the split RSD release with Manchester Orchestra)

2. Los Campesinos! NO BLUES
Hello Sadness seemed like an album by a band in transition (even more now you look back at it) but NO BLUES seems like they've perfected their new sound. I'm not sure it helped that the lyrics to the band's fourth album had to be rewritten following Gareth's break-up and the albums on this seem much more comfortable and well thought out. I love all the football references but that may just be me. LC! have crafted a damn fine album, and their live show is pretty damn great too. Judging by sounds coming out of the band it wasn't their easiest year, but hopefully there's many more albums to come.

1. The Wonder Years The Greatest Generation
In number one position, The Wonder Years! Shocking absolutely nobody. Both 'The Upsides' and 'Suburbia...' had huge sing-a-longs, catchy melodies, and an overriding emotion pushing the albums through and TGG is no different except for the fact that the emotion seems to have changed. Where 'The Upsides' had hope, and 'Suburbia...' had something that I can't quite put in to words, TGG has a bundle of the last two, packaged with a semi-new angry outlook. It's an interesting transition but an incredible one. I don't know how it's possible but they've stepped up again. Wonder Years fanboy 4lyf.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Playlist: December 2013

The year is over, and seeing as I've only been doing this playlist thing since November I'm not going to even attempt to do my favourite songs of the year (albums of the year are coming up) but here's December's 'list! YEAHHH.


Friday, 27 December 2013

Life: Presents, Komputers, DON'T JUDGE

So my last Christmas as a teenager has been and gone. Filled with grandparents, excitement, and - most importantly - a whole load of presents. My wrapping, as normal, was pretty sub-standard and continuously mentioned but what I wanted to discuss mostly was the concept of digital presents.


I can't be the only one who's spent a bit of money unlocking the new episode of Candy Crush, or unlocking a box in Counter Strike. My brother's present to me didn't require much wrapping as it was a StatTrak AK Skin for Counter Strike: Global Offensive - which is basically a customisation to a gun which counts how many enemies you've dispatched with it. It's not exactly a cheap thing, going for around £20 online but it's also one of the presents from this year that I'll use most.

People may find that really strange - "why would you spend money on an online game?" - and the answer is because I enjoy it! A lot of my free time is spent playing video games, and whatever you think of that personally, I - obviously - like to do it. It's cathartic to me, especially after the stress of uni deadlines and the like. I wrote a few months back about eSports becoming more popular and there's new news that, allegedly, two-thirds of British adults claim to be gamers but I know for a fact the moment I go back to university and said that for Xmas I got something inside a video game as a present I'll be laughed at and they'll question why I would ever do that. Sure, that's partly down to the people in my house, but it's a common opinion that I've experienced.

This comes down to the fact, mostly, that I'm sort of tired of being found 'quirky' or 'weird' because I prefer to hang out with friends online - people that I deem to be really good friends - than be bored and sad hanging out with people in the real world. People suck, basically. In my ideal world people would be less judgemental of everybody - sure, that girl looks a bit odd, so? And that guy hangs out by himself a lot, which matters because?. A while back I watched a What Would You Do clip about a gay couple, and their children (all actors) being harassed by a waitress (another actor) who was asking them to leave due to their sexuality (which is legal in Texas) where a customer (not an actor) basically told the waitress, "Who are you to judge? You're but a human, you have no right to judge" (Starts about 4:29 in the video below) and that video - along with a few other things - have completely changed my outlook. Who am I to judge? Just live your life trying to be the best person you can be, don't deliberately harm others and at least try to treat others as you would like to be treated - that golden rule!


I've sort of strayed from my original point but basically, digital presents are going to be huge and please don't judge me because I got one. I also got a New York Rangers' Jersey as well, and I won't be taking it off for a while so mock me because we can't even beat Calgary without having to go to a shootout instead.

Anyway, I hope y'all had a wonderful Christmas and were excited as me - I watched The Santa Clause 3 on Christmas Eve solely to build the anticipation of the following morning. I act like such a child on Christmas, but I like to regress into childhood for it - makes things a bit more special.

Have a good New Year! Unfortunately it's probably time I started catching up with uni work... *sob*

Sunday, 22 December 2013

LIVE: Gigs of the Year

So the Los Campesinos! show was my last of the year (unless you count The Big Reunion tour tonight which... er... I don't, even if it was pretty damn great) so I thought now would be a good time to bring you my...

GIGS OF THE YEAR!

 5. Paramore LG Arena, Birmingham
PARAMORE! Off the back of a damn good album there was the mandatory tour of the world that comes with being able to sell out wherever you go. Anyway, Paramore are pretty much always wicked live (as long as you discount that main stage Reading appearance) and this time was no different. They can even make Still Into You sound good live, which is a real achievement.

4. Frightened Rabbit O2 Academy Brixton, ... Brixton
Okay so Frightened Rabbit are a big band now. They've got a major record label, a date at Brixton academy, y'know all the things you should have. What really topped this show off though was Scott's faux-acoustic (he was still using some mic at the front) Floating in the Forth. AMAZING. Felt pure privileged to be there and I will always love FRabbit and they will always be strangely angry at fans doing anything that they don't want them to do.


3. The Wonder Years Manchester Academy 2, Manchester
So I don't think it's any big secret that The Wonder Years are pretty much my favourite band ever. So being supported by Real Friends - one of my favourite new pop-punkers - it was gonna be a pretty great night. Turns out Manchester really know their new bands too, Even Handguns got a pretty decent reception, and 'I've Given Up On You' got one of the biggest sing-a-longs of the night. Plus, y'know, The Wonder Years never disappoint live. So much energy, and so much good-will.

I still hate the stereotypical pop-punk kid though.

2. Los Campesinos! Heaven, London
Half way through this gig I was thinking "yep, this is it, this is the gig of the year". Unfortunately it dropped off slightly in the middle but I have never seen a room of people so up for being there. It topped their 2000 Trees set from a couple of years back and that is tough.  It probably helps that I adore the use of football references in the new album, and hearing people chanting - note the deliberate use of a verb that isn't singing - at a gig is fantastic.

1. Burn The Fleet The Joiners Arms, Southampton
The 'last ever show' of BTF was something pretty damn special. Playing pretty much everything in their back-catalogue (even if that's not particularly full) but they just had an extra edge that a whole load of bands lack. The only, only, downside to this gig is the damn people 'moshing' who think that that means throwing themselves into the wall full pelt. There was a man, with a damn fine beard, getting particularly angry. 10/10 for The Fleet, RIP sweet princes. I'm sure a saw a tear under all that sweat.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Life: Bristol, Br& New (Cont.), Friends!

I'm home for Christmas! Finally. Only four doors left to open until the big day and presents. Obviously the main thing about Christmas is giving and family and friends. But I really like getting presents too.

Anyway, I started John Green's 'The Fault In Our Stars' on the way over to Lauren's on Saturday and - as ever with a good book - I pretty much couldn't put it down. Which is a nice change from 'The Lovely Bones' which took me forever to read. I've had quite a lot of time to read on trains recently so I happen to have already finished it. Not to spoil it but basically it's written from the point of a girl with terminal cancer, although her cancer is being managed by some drug so she's not in any immediate danger. Anyway, be warned it's pretty sad and you're 100% recommended to probably read it but not finish it on a train to Bristol, as I did. You get some odd looks as your eyes well with tears on the 1430 to Temple Meads.

I've been using the fact that you should live life to the full as an excuse to book more and more Brand New tickets. I happen to now have tickets for all 8 of their UK shows. I wasn't going to do the Hit The Deck dates but then I listened to BN in the car on the way home and I knew I had to. Thankfully I'm in the position where this kind of thing is possible, and that's not lost on me in any way. I did end up spending £16 more than I needed to - I was going to get HTD tickets before I left for home, when there were still earlybirds, but by the time I got back they'd all gone. *sob*

So yes, I was down in Bristol for Peter's birthday celebrations which were great fun. We went to Thekla, and that's the kind of place I love. 2 pints for £4.20 rather than one, great music, friends! Even if I did smack my head against somebody else's during a Limp Bizkit mosh (there's a bit of a bump) it was an excellent night, and it made me realise how much I undervalue my friends. Jonny, Josh, and Ed I will never not appreciate - spending a month travelling Europe with your best friends means that they're always gonna be at the top of my list, but the others in my group I'm not nearly grateful enough for. Staying up and joking around at 4 in the morning, especially when not completely sober, really puts that kind of stuff into perspective.

I've never really been the best with friends, partly because I internalise quite a bit and never really ask for others' help, partly because I quite often see myself as an outsider (rightly or not) and partly because a lot of the time I really would rather be alone, at least in the physical world. Maybe I should just go to the pub more with people I actually like. Then there's occasionally somebody who I consider a friend who has a weird obsession with my weight more than anything else. Seriously, if you greet me with quips about how heavy I am chances are I'm not going to want to talk to you. Anyway basically, I do like people and I will try to show this a bit more to people I like. I've never been a massive fan of pandering with people who I'm not overly interested in so expect that to continue.

And finally, I'm using my instagram a bit more now that I have a phone that actually supports it, same with snapchat (stats1994) - although I still don't really understand why the only thing people ever send is photos of themselves. Social networking!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Life: BRAND NEW. TOUR. APRIL.

The God I believe in is Jesse Lacey and the fact that he and Brand New have finally taken time out of their busy schedule to tour the UK is music to my ears but not my bank balance. In the presale today I picked up tickets for London, Newcastle, Manchester, and Southampton - I should probably point out that a couple paid for by my oh so kind father for Christmas (and the fact that he and my brother are also coming along to a couple) - whilst Friday's general sale will hopefully bring in tickets for Glasgow, and possibly a second London date.

Obviously then I can't justify doing Leeds as well, because that would be ridiculous.

Brand New have been a staple of my existence for a few years now, since listening to them in the build up to Reading 2009, and I'm deeply in love with pretty much everything they've ever done because pretty much everything they've ever done is wonderful.

Anyway in more general life, last Wednesday I went to see The Big Reunion Christmas tour which was amazing. Five, Liberty X, and Atomic Kitten killed it - and we won't mention the other few. Although admittedly Honeyz were pretty great singers they just didn't really have the connection with the crowd the rest did. It also featured all the bands singing Christmas songs (plus their Christmas single at the end) - B*Witched sang The Pogue's 'Fairytale of New York' along with a backing track done by Shane Lynch that was completely out of time to the music. Odd. My gran also gave me a pot of jam which is incredible. I just need to get some bread for it first...

I've spent the last few days with my girlfriend in Peterborough which were nice, although I forgot almost everything after rushing in the morning including the charger for my laptop - so when she took hers to uni I was a bit stuffed. Spent most of the rest of the time - with the laptop - watching Netflix. Who knew that a film/tv series about Halo 4 could be so good? Plus the whole Lego Ninja thing that I started watching because there was nothing else...

Finally, I decided to do another political compass just to see where I stood and turns out I'm pretty left-wing and libertarian.

That's what -6.38, -6.36 looks ladies and gentleman. I expected it to be a little less extreme than that..

Tonight it's time for Gnarwolves at The Flapper before heading down to Bristol to party with Peter and the gang for his birthday! THEN IT'S BASICALLY CHRISTMAS. Aw yus.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

LIVE: Los Campesinos!

I've seen LC! a handful of times, and I'm not gonna beat around the bush but this was hands down the best time I've seen them play. The crowd was absolutely buzzing and I don't think I've ever seen a room more psyched to be there, other than the Brand New Wembley show but that was pretty damn special.

The new album is pretty immense and among one of my albums of the year, so kicking things off with 'As Lucerne/The Low' was a nice way to start. With LC! the lyrics mean just as much, if not more than the music you're listening to - and it's pretty easy to tell that's the case seeing as almost everyone in Heaven knew the words to everything from 'You! Me! Dancing!' - y'know, the one in that Budweiser advert -  to 'Avocado, Baby'.

I'm not sure if it's just Heaven, the only other time I've been there was for Taking Back Sunday four and a bit years ago, but the sound was perfect, and I think Gareth has been working on his vocals for a while, because you can tell the improvement from Hello Sadness to NO BLUES, and it comes across in the live show as well.

Somebody before the show started invited a girl round for New Years Eve, but not for an "invite whoever you want kinda thing" more a "wine, cheese and board game" affair. I was surprised to see a Tory at a show. Especially when 'The Sea Is A Good Place..." pretty clearly shows the bands' stance on such humans.

Anyway, basically this show was immense, one of my favourite of the year, and I only managed to stand near the back because I had a huge coat, a rucksack, and not enough change to put it all in the cloakroom, imagine what it was like for the kids jumping about! As Gareth said, shows like this are only possible because of people going to them - and LC! actually have other jobs that they need to do to actually support themselves financially - and that's the exact reason why if the band you like aren't on a huge record deal with millions of fans you should try and give what you can to support them. Go to a show, buy an album, a t-shirt, introduce your friends - whatever!

Anyway, tl;dr: LC! slayed 2013.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Life: Posting Thursday's Blog Post On Saturday

So I begin writing this post at 5:09am and the final session on day 2 of the second test in The Ashes has just started. My main man Monty has the ball and Haddin is just kicking the ball away. I've decided to watch as much of this test as possible because The Ashes doesn't happen every day and I really do love the meandering nature of test cricket. I did the same thing back in March with the New Zealand series and saw Matt Prior clinch a thrilling series draw but I didn't have to balance that with university as I was off for Easter, and the room I was watching in wasn't sub-zero either.

HADDIN'S FINALLY OUT!

Thankfully Friday's are devoid of any kind of lectures... Okay, that's a lie but they're devoid of learning. Today's [Thursday's] lecture was at 9am, and it's always a struggle to get out of bed for that time - even if I have to be up for it for the majority of the week - so obviously the best plan of action was just not to sleep before it and then sleep between 10:30 & 16:00. Sleep pattern wrecked much? I mean this is my normal holiday sleep-pattern already. I think the most down-heartening thing about it is realising you already opened the door on your advent calendar at midnight, and not having it when you get up.

Despite that I think it was one of my most productive days in a while, I went into town - when the train eventually arrived - to try and get my replacement phone unlocked before being told I need a receipt which is still at home or I could always get in touch with the customer service team - although obviously not calling them because I don't have a phone... Plus I photographed Jamie Lenman which was fun. Was pretty damn tired though so didn't stay for long. Ran into a photographer friend though which is always nice!

Saturday's blog post bit: Hopefully photographing Hanson later at The Institute. Could be fun, seeing as the amount of Hanson references I receive is interesting. Then ice hockey and Cold Crows Dead tomorrow, whose album I still need to listen to. I will get on that! Hopefully the bets I have on today can pay for my travel tomorrow...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Life: December

So November is over, seeing itself out with white girls calling me racist for being white - I think she was on tumblr for a bit too long , some really strange Bracknell Bees' results, and a lovely Reading win away at Nottingham Forest. The end of November, obviously, means the start of December, bringing some really strange Bracknell Bees' results, my beautiful The Snowman advent calendar - filled with Thornton chocolate, and unfortunately a presentation on Free Speech and Social Networking sites. Plus all the end of year lists are coming out! Probably time to start thinking about mine..

Myself and Ed took the train over to Nottingham for the Reading game, although by the time we arrived - and decided to get some food from Tesco we'd also managed to lose our tickets. We reckon they were stolen, but that doesn't necessarily mean they were. Thankfully the police found them and handed them into a steward at the ground - who we managed to run into while he was holding them. Thank the lord. Going 2-0 up in 15 minutes made it all worth it, plus a late winner after two ex-Royals had brought it back to 2-2 was nice too.

Due to the fact there were 0 trains to Birmingham after about 9:30 we stayed with my grandparents - haven't seen them in ages! It's incredibly nice to go to people's house who aren't students who actually own the proper amount of food. luv me food.

My panic attacks have definitely got better, but talking in front of my fellow peers apparently is still one of the things that sets it off. Being in a group with another guy that has the same sort of thing was slightly reassuring and slightly worrying at the same time, but that said, once we were up there everything was fine! Even got a thumbs up from the award-winning Dr Lee, which is always a good sign - I think?

Everything at uni's coming toward the end which means lots of deadlines! Ah deadlines, the worst part of a student's life. I guess they're probably quite important, although this term I've actually managed to stay on top of all the deadlines - for once in my life. So that's good.

Time to watch The Expendables 2! (Well, actually - photograph the football that I had entirely forgotten about)

P.S. Just back from football. I've seen quite a bit of sport whilst here but this was my first football match. I might sound like an old man saying this but the language of footballers is atrocious. Seriously, no other team have mouths like that. Everything is so negative as well. Shouting at people for doing something wrong rather than trying to help them improve.

Damn footballers.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Playlist: November 2013

So there was a post on tumblr a while ago about how to enjoy University and one of the points on it was to make playlists so that all the memories associated with certain songs can come flooding back when you listen to them. So I thought I'd start doing this, seeing as Spotify allows me to access pretty much anything ever and share it efficiently so here it is! Thought I'd write a bit about each song below the break too!

Enjoy!


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Photography: 5ive!!!


Five's debut was the first album I ever bought. I ordered it off of some website, with some sort of jungle theme - although it might have been something other than Amazon. Who knows! When I got the opportunity to photograph them at Leicester's De Montfort hall it was something that I could only have dreamed of when I ordered that first album. Obviously nothing runs smoothly, and I had a couple of issues getting in but once in I had a lot of fun. Cannot wait to see them again on The Big Reunion tour with Liberty X(!!!) and the like. As always more photos on flickr including some proposal snaps! (aw!)


Monday, 25 November 2013

Photography: Stornoway, The Institute


So my four day whirlwind of going out to gigs finished with Stornoway (the band, not the Scottish town) at Birmingham Institute. I'd missed photographing them at 2000 Trees so was kind of intrigued to see what would happen in this even more intimate of settings. The support acts, Goodbye Lenin and Sivu were actually really good - the latter in particular. Highly recommended listening.

I didn't entirely mean to stay for all of Stornoway, having been pretty tired from the previous three days of travelling, gigging, and staying up to watch morning sessions of England being thrashed but they really enticed me with their songs and on stage presence that I actually ended up staying until the end, until I managed to grab a footlong Subway - which was one of the best meals I've ever had.

As always the rest of the photos are on flickr.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

LIVE: Burn The Fleet is dead.

Burn The Fleet were one of my favourite bands before they died this year at Takedown Festival in their native Southampton; so when they were resurrected from the dead for one last show I decided that I'd do anything to get down to it.

I saw Burn The Fleet before I knew they were Burn The Fleet when they supported Exit Ten at Reading Face Bar (I only went for Wolf I Am), and playing to almost nobody except me, my brother, and the other bands in the same venue, and supporting Don Broco in the same venue.

Basically, I've seen Burn The Fleet at the Face Bar a lot - coupled with a Takedown Festival appearance (not the last one) and a support slot with Night Verses when I had no idea they were playing. The only reason I even know who they are is because I was looking for Bless The Fall, had a free CD offer from Walnut Tree Records, and thought that I was actually looking for a band called Burn The Fleet instead.  Apparently lead-singer/bassist extravaganza, Andrew Convey, once roadied for them so I wasn't too far away - I may be making that up.

Anyway, that CD was their first EP, featured in this lovely Spotify playlist above - featuring the magnificent 'Handfuls of Sand', if they'd had a hit it would definitely be it. That said, it's not as if the rest of the EP is lacklustre. So to hear all of the tracks played for one last time was a pretty lovely experience.

Their first album, 2012's 'The Modern Shape', was given away free with Rock Sound. Or, as they said at the time, you could buy the album for £3 and get a free Rock Sound issue.  Songs like 'The Greatest Fire', 'Black Holes', and 'River Song' are huge, whether they're listened to on your stereo at home or having your ears blown by them at The Joiners.

Finishing the show with the aforementioned 'Handfuls of Sand', accompanied by a stage invasion was probably the best way to send Burn The Fleet back to their shallow grave.

"Burn The Fleet is dead" (again)

My ears are ruined.

RIP.

(NB: if you're moshing don't hurl yourself into the wall, because that isn't cool.)

LIVE: Ben Marwood

Free gigs are always nice, and free gigs that involve Ben Marwood are even better.  So when he announced he was playing London on his mini-'run' of tour dates this Winter I became interested. When it turned out that I was planning on going home this weekend I felt like going via The Monarch was a must; Dragging all my stuff to a London show for the second time in two weeks.

Getting to The Monarch and already seeing everybody there was a heart-warming experience, even if I had (and still have) almost zero idea who any of them are. Getting in the pork-chops because I hadn't eaten a proper meal in two days was pretty decent too. (AMY, I AM NOT A DRUNKARD. I had two pints.)

Anyway, Marwood was his beautiful self as always (even if being on 'til 10/10:30' turned into coming on stage at 10). If you've never listened to him I recommend doing it. Especially if you're into folk/Frank Turner/Jim Lockey/that scene yo. New album 'Back Down' is pretty damn good, and it has '... Yeehaw Junction' on it even if he refuses (sort of) to play it live. Karma's a cruel mistress though Marwood, and know that that Sturridge goal was all down to choosing to play 'Claire' instead. If you want to give him a listen (and you really do) click the links! CLICK 'EM.

I heard the reason that they've moved everybody from Reading Gaol is because Marwood tried to murder the other inmates.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Photography: Mallory Knox, Coventry Kasbah


So without doubt last night's Mallory Knox gig is one of the hardest things I've ever had to photograph.  The moment you walked into the room every piece of glass you owned had condensation dripping off, and this led to my 17-55mm lens being unusable because it had condensed on something inside the camera and it wasn't as easy as rubbing it off. Couple this with the fact there wasn't a barrier and there was pretty much no way to shove myself to the front of the crowd everything was looking pretty bleak, especially when I go zero usable photographs of Blitz Kids. Well, at least I got a couple of Mallory. They put on a pretty good show, and sound a little like Deaf Havana would if they'd kept going on the same path as 'Meet Me Halfway...' without Ryan.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Photography: German Markets and Charity Gigs



So this week the German Market on New Street opened for its traditional advent (plus a bit) run. A couple of house-mates and I decided to go down and check out the German food (and German beer) and it's pretty damn cool, despite the huge number of people that try to file down past waffles, schnitzel, sausages, beer - a lot of stereotypically German things plus the occasional market-stall. My visit was cut short though as I had agreed to photograph a charity show in Selly Oak, so ran home to sort out my camera and have a pizza and then made my way to The Lounge. Met some really cool people, and all the acts let me use flash! Hooray for pictures that should actually be quite good... Here's some (and more below the break as always). And below the break I tried experimenting a bit with flash, HOPE YOU LIKE IT! More on my flickr.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

LIVE: The Wonder Years

Whenever The Wonder Years announce a tour I'm always ready to jump on it; unfortunately due to the lack of a Birmingham date, and London being part of Warped Tour, it was a bit more difficult so instead I travelled to my favourite city of England, Manchester, instead.  Then, when the support was announced, I got excited all over again. Bringing over Handguns and - one of my favourite bands of the moment - Real Friends over from the States, plus the UK's own Neck Deep.

After travelling up and dumping all my stuff in the handy Salford Quay's Ibis Budget (which comes highly recommended for anybody looking for cheap hotels in Manchester)  it was a rush back into Manchester to meet Megan (who got in too early and caused me to rush my Burger King) before she forced me to rush to Academy 2, arriving half an hour early. I'm not the kind of person who enjoys queuing before gigs, if you do then that's absolutely fine and I respect your decision but I just don't understand why unless you're 4ft 0. (Which, to be fair, Megan is.)

Anyway, the inside of Manchester's University's Student Union - which houses Academy 2 - is pretty nice. The bar there even accepts University of Birmingham ID and I am eternally grateful for after I left my passport at home. Also, where else are you going to find pints for £2.40 'in' a gig venue?  We made it upstairs to catch the latter two-thirds of Handguns who are always pretty solid. The reaction for Neck Deep though is something else, pop-punk kids are really on their game when it comes to new music now-a-days. Not being a massive fan of the TSSF-tribute-band it was time for another trip to the bar before the latter two bands took to the stage.

I wasn't sure how active the crowd would be for Real Friends, they're still relatively new on the scene, only having been around for a year or so but any reservations I had were dispelled immediately, as they should've been after the reaction to Neck Deep. 'I've Given Up On You' was incredible, as was 'Floorboards' and despite their boney knees and sleepy eyes (there's a joke that's never been made) they put on one hell of a show. Vocalist Dan Lambton looked visibly moved by the reaction of the crowd. Here's to hoping they come back over here again soon. The Story So Far started with a support slot for Man Overboard and look where they are now...

Finally we get to The Wonder Years, kicking things off with 'Passing Through a Screen Door' it's obvious that tonight's going to be pretty excellent. The crowd are most definitely in the mood to party and they're rewarded with a bit of a treat, the sparsely played 'Coffee Eyes'.

There's nothing with more energy than a TWY live performance. It's a little bit ridiculous how they don't seem to stop for breath through the entire show. The sing-a-longs, especially for tracks off the new album like 'Dismantling Summer' and 'The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves' are huge. Finishing off the main set with 'All My Friends Are In Bar Bands' feels a little odd as it feels like a step backward but then again I don't think I've ever really felt that it translates as well to a live setting, and works much better as an album-closer.  The encore however is magical. The entire room helps out with 'Living Room Song' before 'Came Out Swinging' makes the place erupt.

The Wonder Years have always been a special band to me, helping me through my tough middle-class-white-boy problems, and their live show has always blown me away every single time. I'm so thankful that they exist and I really, really hope they continue to exist for a long time. 10/10, thanks Wonder Years.

Side-note: The entire crowd singing along to Total Eclipse of the Heart after the show was spectacular and should be recreated at every gig.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Music: Anavae - Dimensions


So I'm not entirely sure whether to call this an album, a mini-album, or an EP and neither do the guys at LAB because all they've been calling it is the new Anavae 'record'. Either way the new Anavae release is pretty damn special. Previous attempt, 'Into The aether' was solid if a little generic but straight from the moment the drums hit in 'Anti-Faith', the opener to 'Dimensions', you know you're in for a treat. This isn't a band afraid to play with their sound, check out those chopping vocals in the chorus.

'Storm Chaser'  was released a while ago in its own EP but makes an appearance here as well in a move that will disappoint nobody.  'Hang Man's introduction is a beautiful looped guitar lick and a frantic rush to get to the finish whereas the pulsating 'Aeon' is a careful, methodical track which takes its time to reach a climax.

'Dream Catcher's lyrics stand-out, what with metaphorical cake it's not hard to. If you can resist screaming "I can steal your dream" at people then you're by far a better person than I am. It's not hard to see why 'Bring Me Down' (sort-of) closes the album and Becca's vocals are absolutely stunning, somehow effortlessly communicating her emotions, "Bring me down to you, you'll die down there alone."

Personally I don't think it's a stretch to make the comparison to Perceptions-era VersaEmerge, with the somewhat dreamy lyrics, guitar licks, use of samples...You'd be hard pressed to like one but not the other but that's not to say that Anavae don't have their own charm, and it's a charm that could quite easily see them surpass VERSA (or whatever they're now called) if they haven't already, and a huge part of down to just down to how well this album is produced on top of how good the tracks are.

And that brings me on to a huge shout-out to whoever produced, mixed, and mastered this album (quick consultation with the album notes and we get: John Mitchell, James Billinge, and Ian Sadler) because everything is absolutely spot on. The guitars are punchy, the vocals sit beautifully in the mix and with the amount going on in some of these tracks that's no mean feat. Brilliant work, so many albums are let down by poor production.

Tl;dr This [insert format here] is stunning. This is the best £4.50 you'll ever spend, buy it.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

LIVE: Frightened Rabbit, O2 Academy BRIXTON.

I'm sure people are sick of this anecdote by now but in March 2010 I ventured to the West End Centre in Aldershot to see a relatively unknown Scottish band, who'd just released their third studio album. Obviously the title slightly gives away that this was - of course - Frightened Rabbit, who at the time could only dream of where they'd be at 21:20 on this cold Friday evening; Just stepping onto the stage to headline Brixton Academy. On Wednesday and Thursday the stage was graced by Oli Sykes and his Bring Me The Horizon gang, before Major Lazer takes over the venue on Saturday night. This isn't playing to 300 people in squaddie-town any more.

Tonight then, off the back off top-10 album 'Pedestrian Verse', is the Glaswegian quintet's cliched coming-of-age.  This has been such a long time in coming ever since 2008's 'The Midnight Organ Fight' was heralded by pretty much everybody. The most recent record saw them wade over to Atlantic Records, which proved the decisive spark that caused the bands' explosion into the UK mainstream.

'Holy' immediately has the crowd's attention, and 'FRabbit' crowds aren't renowned for being particularly raucous but tonight they're all singing along and there's exactly the right amount of movement, plus the occasional pogo at Scott's request. The token 'Sing The Greys' track 'Music Now', more than anything else, really shows how far their songwriting talents have come. The poignant duo of 'Nitrous Gas'  and 'Fuck This Place', complete with guest vocals from Laterns on the Lake's Hazel Wilde, could reduce the hardest man to tears, and that's without them being followed by an unplugged version of 'Floating in the Forth'.  I was always sceptical about using 'The Loneliness and The Scream' as a closer to the set but nothing will ever beat the entire crowd singing along to the gang vocals at the end, and it put one of the biggest smiles on my face so I really can't complain.

Frightened Rabbit's live show has been a little suspect in the past but in the last year they've really upped their game, and tonight is a culmination of so many things that it's completely appropriate that tonight is probably one of their best performances. Scottish music as a whole is at the top of it's game right now, and it really bodes the question how far can FRabbit go?

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Photography: Lacrosse

 
On a rather wet November afternoon I ventured down to the Munroe Track to watch my first ever game of Lacrosse. I honestly had absolutely no idea what was going on, does anybody? The game was between my two first-choice universities, Birmingham (obviously) and Newcastle. Interesting match-up (maybe?) but apparently my camera doesn't really like shooting in the rain, which causes there to be a lack of light (by definition) and leads to shooting at a high ISO, combined with rain and everything looks horrific. I really need a new body at some point! Anyway, here's a few of the shots below the break.


Monday, 4 November 2013

Life: 3 Things I'm Excited For This Week...

So it's a (very, very) cold Monday morning, and university has started again after a rather spiffing four day break. Time for Haskell to frustrate and depress me for another week. That said there's lots coming up this week, SO LET'S CELEBRATE THAT EH?

3. Reading Vs QPR... Wait...
Okay, so this one is probably not something I'm looking forward to very much off the back of a 5-2 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, a team who hadn't won up to this point, where former Royal Michail Antonio tore us apart. I SAID NOT TO SELL HIM. How we're still in the play-off positions is beyond me. Anyway next week is the big one. QPR vs Reading. Two of the relegated teams. Please let us win, we haven't actually lost at home yet so that's sort-of promising.

2. Anavae Release Dimensions
So one of my favourite bands ever Anavae are releasing their new record Dimensions and I can't wait because everything off it that we've heard so far is AMAZING. Anti-Faith is possibly the best song released in the last year, and hands down the best thing released out of the English underground in a long, long time. You know you've made it when people start ripping your videos to put on YouTube themselves (which I have never understood but...)



1. FRabbit Headline BRIXTON 

So in March 2010 I saw Frightened Rabbit headline the West End Centre in Aldershot, the same week I saw Twin Atlantic play the Borderline (what a week!), and on Friday they headline BRIXTON ACADEMY. Which is one of the most mental things I've ever heard. I'm so excited because Pedestrian Verse was incredible and they deserve all the success that comes their way off the back of it. FRABBIT. BRIXTON. Everything is right with the world when a band who've toiled finally get to reap the rewards. If you have nothing to do on Friday I suggest you come down, there's still some tickets left. Make me cry, Scott.


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

LIVE: Tom Odell

Star of the sky advert, and owner of a number 1 album and top 10 single Tom Odell sold out the Institute weeks in advance, which always makes the place hot enough to fry... people. Unfortunately the Institute told me to get there half an hour earlier than I had to so I had to stand through some horrifically cliched rock and roll, although I suppose I'm no worse off through the experience minus having half an hour of my life that have disappeared to me forever.

Obviously without much of a back-catalogue Odell played every single song off his album, Long Way Down. Throwing in a few covers, and I might be a bit of a scrooge when it comes to this, but I didn't pay money for him to sing The Beatles and Etta James and to be honest I could have lived without it if it meant getting home 20 minutes earlier. Overall though he sounded good, and at least tried to liven things up which is a little hard when a lot of your songs are quite so soft - although they do translate pretty well to a live setting.

The most disappointing thing was the crowd. I was stood next to a couple who would have been more at home in Eastenders. The male kept threatening to punch almost anybody who so much as looked at his other half, who didn't seem to stop crying for an hour and a half. Constant wailing, which meant that I had to sing louder which probably disrupted everybody else's enjoyment and for that I'm sorry. The rest of the crowd were there for one song and one song only, it was like a Journey concert, and I'll give you three guesses which it was.

Anyway, a pretty solid show, and I get to cross another name off my 'to see' list, there's not a whole lot of bands left to see. Which is slightly scary, I don't want to think about the money that's cost!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Photography: WRASSLIN.


So last night I headed to London for Revolution Pro Wrestling's Uprising 2013 featuring some fairly big names in Bret Hart, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Colt Cabana, Prince Devitt and a few more besides. I've been a fairly major wrestling fan for a while now and this was my first time at RevPro. I mostly went for Devitt vs. Ricochet which didn't disappoint. Two incredible wrestlers who put on a fantastic show. Getting to see Bret Hart was just a bonus. I took some photos but alas my camera is awful in low light - I really need a more up-to-date body than the entry-level 2009 model I have now. ANYWAY. To see all the photos visit my Facebook Page, but there's a choice few beneath the break!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Life: PLACEMENTS, JOBS, REAL LIFE

So, two years ago when I applied to my universities I selected the 'straight' Computer Science option so as to get my course over in the least possible time - and at that point I was pretty happy to do the general three years of university thing and then go into the real world to find a job. Pretty quickly it was apparent that the three years should probably turn to four years and you should find a job in the middle of it so as to have experience for when you go out to find a job.

The whole thing is that I'm not overly sold in the idea of sitting in an office for a year when I could be finishing my degree. Maybe I just have scenarios in my head where what ends up happening is nothing to do with Computer Science at all, and it's a year wasted on my part. After all I'm coming out of the best CS department in the country, what further reference could I possibly need?

The problem is that everybody I know is at least attempting to find a placement for next year, which would make Birmingham a very lonely place if they all succeeded. It's also causing me a great deal of stress over the thought that my third year may suffer due to my lack of work experience. Of course, I understand that they feel the need to push it, they get a nice little sum of money whilst keeping companies on their side. My problem is that I feel they've pushed too far towards a year out so that it leaves people like me, those who aren't sold on the idea and would be perfectly happy carrying on with education, feeling lost. I've updated my Linked In and in the process of getting my CV all ready, just in case.

Any help from the internet out there, what are your experiences of industrial placements and did they benefit you at all? Or did you stay at university and wish you'd gone for it?

Either way I should probably make my twitter private.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Photography: Rugby (and Respite)


On the first week that uni really kicks in I've already decided that I needed a break and have come down to my family's Devonian retreat to unwind after all the stress. Functional Programming really knows how to take it out of somebody. Couple that with the stress of living in a fractured household and staying for the weekend seems like too much effort.

This week did have some good to it, I completed my first Redbrick - the University Newspaper - assignment photographing Birmingham's Yellows take on... somebody. They started in sunshine, but by the time they finished the rain was beginning to pour. Which made for an interesting challenge. I used a Canon f/4-5.6 70-300mm lens, which got a good workout. The changing focal length does make for an interesting bit of work shooting with manual which took me a while to get right. There was a bit of post-processing to get them to a stage I was happy with, but they came out pretty well!

I was meant to have a photo-pass for Goldie Lookin' Chain at the Academy on Thursday, but the amount of my passes that vanish in this city is incredible. I've turned up to a variety of venues just to be turned away, probably more in just Birmingham than anywhere else in the country. I know I'm only one guy, but please don't be mean to me!

More photos below the jump!


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Life: Weekend In Review

So, my weekend started on Thursday evening owing to the fact that my university timetable allows me Fridays off, on the most part. That said, all that happened on Friday was I popped into UoB to talk to the Redbrick photographers hoping that I could get some stuff to shoot. Turns out I'm photographing one of the rugby teams on Wednesday, and I set up my own photopass for Goldie Lookin' Chain on Thursday so it's not a bad week!

In the evening I picked up my brother from the train station and we headed home for a nap before the LoL World Championship Final, although having to listen to my house mates playing blaring club tunes for two hours before they finally went out wasn't the ideal preparation for getting up at 2:30 in the morning.


After having to go back to the house for the tickets that Tim forgot we ended up in the oldest working cinema in the UK, The Electric in Birmingham. I don't really play League of Legends, and I've never seriously watched an eSport so this was a new experience but it was actually really good to watch. eSports may have a certain stigma attached but they're going to be huge, it's just a question of how long it takes. The production values on the final were so high, and the only problem was the ceremony to give the winners the cup. I mean, we did have to watch off Timmy's iPhone for a while but we got it sorted...


Seeing as one of the teams (we don't do spoilers here) demolished (okay slight spoilers) the other it meant that we were out of the cinema pretty early, and ended up getting Tim's second ever subway, even if it was a rather stodgy Sausage Breakfast Thing. For some reason he left pretty much straight away and spent a grand total of 15 hours in Birmingham, dedication to the sport that is. Was alright though, as NHL 13 came through the post and I spend the day playing that. World's most difficult game.

On Saturday evening I had a bar crawl, which isn't advisable after a two hour nap the night before. I crashed around 6pm and missed the first bar, but overall our first CSS Barcrawl was a nice success. Ended up in Fab 'n' Fresh, the Uni's club night which no longer plays Blurred Lines. Absolutely packed as freshers was still going on, but then again we got there in time for me to dance around an empty club dancefloor in my semi-drunken state.

Sunday was spent doing absolutely nothing. Nothing at all. Nowt. I don't think I got out of my dressing gown. Those are the best days though, eh?

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Sport: Let The eSports Commence!

So Friday night saw the final of the League of Legends World Championships at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. In an ever growing eSports market the winners took home a $1m purse, and the runners up a measly $250,000. There were viewing parties all over the world in something reminiscent of Wrestlemania, and millions more watched at home. I was dragged, at three in the morning, to the Electric Cinema in Birmingham, England to watch the action. A beautiful irony that the UK's oldest working cinema should be chosen to host such an event.

This is a turning point in Western culture that we're on the brink of. On any given weekend you can choose to rock up to your local football, rugby, [insert sport here] and watch a match. Endless hours of television are dedicated to traditional sports and there's almost no professional sport that won't have some sort of coverage. That's exactly where the world of eSports is heading. The event sold out the venue in an hour. By any stretch of the imagination that's incredible, and this is just the beginning. ESports in the west still hasn't become mainstream despite the inordinate amount of people who play video games.

ESports, obviously, have less physical constraints - you can play them no matter what state your body is in - and you can play with whoever you want, wherever they are in the world; which is obviously one of the unique advantages over a 'sport'. It's summed up pretty well in the video below.



Yes, there's still going to be some hostility toward eSports in the years to come because they're radically different to what's come before and, at the moment at least, Riot is using it as a marketing tool for LoL. They actually lose a lot of money on the big tournaments, so at some point they're going to have to make sure it's actually financially viable to run these big events.

Obviously it's not just LoL but pretty much any game you can play online. Counter Strike, Call of Duty, DOTA 2, FIFA, Starcraft. The people who tend to make decisions in the big companies tend to be people who haven't grown up with video games, and therefore I don't think a big shift is going to happen in the immediate future, but within my lifetime I expect eSports to become something on a par with their traditional counterpart.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Television: Castle


Earlier in the year I was browsing Lovefilm Instant and I came across the crime drama, Castle. I think I managed to watch the first four seasons in under a week, and gave myself pretty bad eye strain in the process. Richard Castle is a mystery writer who is called to help on a case where the perpetrator is copying scenarios from his books. He becomes infatuated with Kate Beckett, a detective, and after asking his friend The Mayor he's granted access to her cases for research purposes.

One of the main reasons I started watching Castle is due to the fact that I'd just finished Firefly, and Nathan Fillion, who plays the protagonist in the sci-fi show is cast as the aforementioned Castle; in a fairly familiar goofy-yet-loveable role. Cast opposite him is the absolutely stunning Stana Katic in her first major part - or at least as far as I can tell anyway. The most noticeable change in her since the first show is her hair, it changes more often than the wind.



The chemistry between the two is incredible, and really the focal point of the show. Away from the main characters there's two other families. Castle's own, which features his mother (Susan Sullivan), and his daughter (Molly Quinn). Inevitably many cases are broken by an off-handed remark or by something that happens in his personal life which tends to mirror that of his place of research; where his other family are based.  Javi Esposito (Jon Huertas), and Kevin Ryan (Seamus Dever) make up the rest of the three-man detective team. Obviously Castle uses the two guys to get information and tips on Beckett alongside Dr. Lanie Parish (Tamala Jones) who mainly plays Kate's confidant alongside her job as M.E.

What makes Castle something different than the general detective shows is its ability to not take itself too seriously. Yes there are tense moments, hard life lessons, and - at the heart - murder, but its considerably lighter than your Criminal Minds or CSI. Probably stemming from the fact that the majority of the story is actually based around Kate and Castle rather than the crimes that they're trying to solve. I even think my own mother would probably enjoy it.

The USA have just started the sixth season, with its second highest season premiere audience, which can only be a good thing. Couple that with the second season finale was the highest rated show in its time slot on ABC for 14 years, and that it's won 16 awards since the beginning of 2011... I just hope that its not going anywhere for a the foreseeable future.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Film: The Sweeney

I had been excited to watch The Sweeney ever since the indirect advertising campaign kicked into gear, and thousands of programmes regurgitating every little known fact about the original series. This time, however, Dennis Waterman is replaced with rap-star Ben Drew and Ray Winstone steps into the role of Jack Regan.  It's a good action film, and the production values are one of the finer aspects - although my appraisal may be due to the fact I haven't properly watched a film in a while.

Ben Drew makes a surprisingly convincing copper, especially seeing as my overbearing memory of Plan B is always the fact that he broke into Glastonbury and got off his face on drugs - I do hope the organisers docked him that ticket fee from his payment when he played.  Steven Mackintosh plays a rather indignant internal-affairs officer, who's wife is sleeping with Ray Winstone.

And really, that's where the film breaks down. I cannot think of anybody I want to see in a 'sex-scene' less than Ray Winstone, and so much it just feels like somebody's given their dad a 'be in a movie' voucher. In an interview with BBC Breakfast Drew made mention to the fact that the car chase scenes are filmed by Winstone having a fake steering wheel, whilst sitting beside the actual driver and the scene being flipped so it looks like old Ray's in the driver's seat. Mr B also said that you can tell how terrified Winstone is, and you really can. It's strange having a car chase where somebody looks unduly frightened.

The rest of the film is a pretty decent affair, over the top action combined with an alright story. There's a few points where it feels like the film drags but in the overall scheme of things it doesn't affect the film too much. If the casting was slightly better this would've been an excellent film, in the end though a solid affair is slightly tarred by the main man.

3/5 ***

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Sport: THE NHL IS BACK!

So we're into October, and apparently it's time to get the NHL Season underway. Obviously last year there wasn't any play until January, due to the lockout, and less than 50% of games ended up being played. Although that's still better than 2004 when the entire season was cancelled! The New York Rangers don't get underway until Friday, which means that uni won't have to suffer until next week but Toronto and Montreal contest the first fight of the campaign. If you want to give it a go it starts at midnight and well worth a watch. To be fair it is a long sport to watch if you're not properly into it, but well worth it!

Plus obviously there's The Champions League to watch before hand. Hopefully Chelsea don't ruin my treble this week, and Celtic don't somehow pull off that shock result they managed against Barca last time.

Barcelona @ 1.44
Dortmund @ 1.30
Chelsea @ 1.75

Treble @ 3.28

I've put 50p on that, but I've risked a pound on a Championship treble. What with Reading being in the league this year I feel like I know it a bit better than last year. My beloved hoops travel up to Barnsley, and I can't believe that we're evens to beat them. I'm hoping for a fairly routine win after taking 13 points from 15! Brighton and Leicester are both in good form too, so I'm quietly confident that I'll be winning £5 tonight.

Reading @ 2.00
Brighton @ 1.75
Leicester @ 1.72

Treble @ 6.02

I managed to get £15 off a free £5 playing Bingo yesterday, alongside £2 on a BTTS & Everton to win. Considering that I started this betting spree with a £2 free on Paddy Power's games I've now got £19.33 on the account, hoping that after tonight I'll have broken £25! Yay, money!

 Edit:

Champions League Treble WON:

Celtic 0-1 Barcelona, Dormund 3-0 Marseille, Bucharest 0-4 Chelsea

Championship Treble LOST:

Barnsley 1-1 Reading, Brighton 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Yeovil 1-2 Leicester

Monday, 30 September 2013

Life: Ice Hockey! University! Sweaty Trains!



One of my quickly flourishing interests consists of the sport of ice hockey. It's always been on my radar growing up in Bracknell Forest, home of The Bees - a team whose past definitely overshadows its present. However a few friends on the internet managed to convince me to watch the end of last season's NHL, where I took the New York Rangers as my own. On Saturday, however, I went to watch my home-town play in Peterborough. The Phantoms took a 4-1 lead heading into the final period before Bracknell scored two quick goals - one short handed - to set up a tense finale. Unfortunately they couldn't find a way through and the match finished 4-3. The bees did manage to rack up 28 PIMs though, which is really quite impressive. On Sunday they managed to win their first game of the season back at The Hive against Slough, so the weekend wasn't a total loss!

Heading back from Peterborough took an age. The two hour journey back being complemented with a half-hour wait in New Street, and an absolutely packed train back to Selly Oak. Train journeys aren't the most enjoyable things anyway, but I had to get back for the first day of uni today.

Which actually didn't go that bad, considering I was on campus from 9-5! Finding out that one of your lectures didn't actually have a room, and being e-mailed half way through you were being taught in a re-arranged room was interesting. Good to see everybody again, but selling bar crawl tickets on your own is a little depressing. Of course the best part of university is the student loan, which finally hit my bank. Everything I ever wanted. Excellent.

I also had some photographs of Night Verses featured in the new issue of Stencil Magazine. Check it out!

Now to try and get rid of this headache before cracking on with some Functional Programming. Concentrating is tough.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Life: The CSS and Peterborough


This year I'm part of the Computer Science Society (CSS), taking on the role as treasurer. Not a great role for me as personally I'm quite a long way overdrawn, but that's okay. Apparently I'm better with other people's money than my own - which should be getting a boost soon due to my student loan coming in.  Our official event of the year is to take the society, mainly new freshers, to discover the wonders of The Big Wok. It's not the nicest place in the world, it looks like a school canteen with probably lower hygiene standards. Anyway, we took over 100 people there and paid full price for every single one (c'mon lads, no group discount?). Unfortunately last year's committee took all the money + more and we're having to scrape some of that back before we can do anything big. So our planned trip to the Gadget Show got scrapped. Would've been great fun!

I'm thinking about getting involved in more societies this year. Photosoc is an obvious one, as is LUMSoc (Live and Unsigned Music Society). Tempted to get involved with the Redbrick - our student newspaper - photographers as well. All complimented by a healthy dose of squash. Although at this point I'm convinced any exercise may kill me.

Thursday I took a train over to Peterborough to see my girlfriend. She's just starting uni after taking a year out, and I did promise to come over at some point! Alas, she's gone for her induction so I'm stuck in her room unable to go outside on the nicest day of the year. Maybe I'll watch the Thorne DVD I got off lovefilm, something which I should probably stop now Netflix has a decent selection, is cheaper, and easier to split with someone. I've even, finally, started Arrested Development! This is progress.

I mean, something had to go wrong and unfortunately I missed out on Fall Out Boy tickets, again. If anybody wants to give me their spare please go right ahead. I thought I had one earlier but obviously we're talking about See, so I left empty handed. I chose to buy Reading Player instead - seeing as I can't listen to games without it at uni and it's very rare to be able to find a stream. I think whilst I was getting this more tickets went on sale - never stop checking until midday. Wish I'd remembered that. I did it for The Underworld gig...

Also! I am selling prints of a couple of photos, The 1975 and Maybeshewill, to try and get some money for food at uni. Please help me out if you at all can? Thanks!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

LIVE: Paramore

Five years ago I was lying on a sofa watching Kerrang! with a friend and on came the video for 'Misery Business', she already knew about Paramore and told me how amazing Hayley Williams was and since then I've been hooked on them. So, I feel that I should pre-face this review by saying that Paramore have affected my life more than any other band, mainly because of the friends I've made through them. Paramore are the reason I took a break with my ex-girlfriend, Paramore are the reason I'm into underground music, Paramore are the reason I can call people my friends, hell Paramore are the reason I'm into ice hockey - and they even helped decide which ice hockey team I'd call my own. Basically, a lot of aspects of myself trace back to when I was 14/15 and part of a Paramore forum that really did help shape me.

Tonight I journeyed to The LG Arena in Birmingham, not entirely sure of the emotions that I would have on the way out a couple of hours later. I'm not overly fond of the new S/T, and had bought a ticket mainly off nostalgia; The setlist, I knew, would be almost overwhelmingly from the band's new effort and I wasn't sure how that sat with me.

Bearing this in mind the fact that they opened with 'Grow Up', followed by 'Fast In My Car' meant that I wasn't overly thrilled. Then, 'That's What You Get' struck, and I remembered why I loved this band. She might have changed her hair (several times) but Hayley Williams is still one hell of a singer, and she's what makes them special. From then on in it was a hit fest. 'Decode', 'Ignorance' - a single which came out on my birthday in America, little fact for you there, and 'Now' - probably one of my favourite tracks off the new album - hit in quick succession.

Paramore made their name off big pop sing-a-longs, infested with catchy guitars, and lyrics about a - let's face it - young girl trying to find where she fits in. Sure, the style may have changed but the band's overall formula hasn't really altered. That said, 'Crushcrushcrush' is huge as always. The only thing that isn't so great is excitable Laura getting on stage to sing the final chorus of 'Misery Business', but it does give me a good chance to run to the loo before the encore brings 'Part II', an unnecessary Interlude, and 'Still Into You'; The single of the moment, even if it's still not caught on with me. Personally I don't understand why you wouldn't finish with 'Future', even if it's not a single it feels built to end a set. Even if that meant ending the 'main' set with it and bumping Miz Biz into the encore.

The first time I saw Paramore they played for an hour, and I left the venue with the sun still in the sky. There's no chance of that nowadays. Poster-girl Hayley Williams is the perfect show-woman. Prancing about the stage with so much energy it feels like she may explode.  Taylor York and Jeremy Davis compliment her perfectly, with their slightly mischievous-feeling stage antics. York is 23, and Williams is only a year older. Davis is the old-timer of the group at 28. This is a band that have a lot of legs in them if they want to keep going, but for a band that looked like self-destructing around the release of Brand New Eyes it's obvious that there's still growing that needs to happen. Hayley promised it wouldn't be three years until the next tour over this side of the Atlantic, and if they get any bigger in that time they'll be on the verge of outgrowing arenas and that's really something.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Life: Moving Back to Uni



So yesterday I packed up all my stuff at home, and my dad very kindly drove me up to Birmingham via my grandparents house. I'd gone down to my hometown to watch Reading play football, and snatch a dramatic, late 1-0 victory over Leeds, and former boss Brian McDermott.  As usual I'd made us late by not getting up in time, and unbeknownst to me my Nan had to leave to go to work at 1. Luckily we managed to get there and spend an hour chatting - and being force fed food - before we continued the trip up to the Midlands.

I've already lived in this house on and off for a month, as I've been paying for it since July so may as well use it! However some of the bigger items, my tv, record player, guitar I couldn't bring up on the train which is why my father was so gracious as to lend me his time. Alas I left the power cable for my turntable at home, so all the vinyl that was brought up is irrelevant until it can be posted - but hopefully that won't be too long!  I'd already needed to have my wallet sent up, something which I needed to trust my brother with - which was a bit of a difficult thing to do!

The problem is I already have a fair bit of tidying up to do. Keeping my room tidy has never been my forte, and because I brought up a load of still-dirty clothes I've got a good deal of washing to do too.  That said I've blocked off the chimney, and made it feel a little more like home so it's a good start - and the picture makes it look far worse than it actually is, I promise! Hopefully there's peace in this house this year, but I'm not holding out much hope.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Photography: 100,000 Views


Four years ago on August 24th 2009 I got my first photopass to photograph the beautiful Lights in Cardiff Barfly, and last night my flickr ticked over to the big 100,000. I admit, 25k of those views have come in the past month as views from my photos of ArcTanGent rocketed, and in July my set of 2000 Trees helped similarly. What tipped me over the edge were my photographs of The 1975. I feel it's fitting that one of the bands with the biggest hype has helped me reach this goal. It's completely mental to think about, and I still get the odd view on family photos and really, really awful pictures from when I went to gigs with a little compact camera.

I still use the same camera that I did from that first shoot, and yeah I'm looking to upgrade but it serves me well. I've bolstered that with f/1.8 50mm, f/2.5 17-55mm, and a f/4-5.6 70-300mm lenses - although the latter's mainly untouched, especially at indoor shows. I asked for my first photo pass just to shoot for myself, no publication or website attached and I've slowly got to know people from there, and I've even been considered one of the 'Rising Talent Photographers' over on www.musicphotographers.co.uk, which is run by some fairly prestigious names in the Music Photography world - although unfortunately that never really fulfilled it's potential.

All I'm trying to say is that really corny, if I can do it you can do it too. If not music photography then pick up a camera and shoot what you love. It really is rather rewarding, and those views are just a way of reassuring myself that people like what I'm doing. So far they do!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

LIVE: The 1975


When I applied for a photo pass in December 2012 for The 1975 little did I know I'd be shooting one of the UK's hottest bands come September. Unfortunately in December there was a mix-up, and I wasn't on the list - nobody was - but this led me to get the chance to photograph the band in Birmingham Institute's main room, rather than the smallest that I originally applied for. The only downside being that I'd already organised a trip home - meaning having to come back up to Birmingham solely to shoot the show before heading back to Reading the next morning.

That said, it was well worth it to see the band that have spent years toiling away under different pseudonyms finally strike big. The room was absolutely packed to bursting point with people, waiting to hear tracks from the band's number one, self-titled album. Frontman Matthew Healy oozes charisma and bounds all over the stage, always returning the crowds affections when they should proffer them.

The crowd may have come mostly for the 'hits' but the band are gaining popularity all the time. A sold out show at Brixton and in Manchester have seen extra dates added for both, plus a show at the O2 Academy Birmingham - yet another step up from The Institute.  Whether they have the staying power might be something a little different, they've got a formula and they stick with it - I just hope it doesn't harm them in the long run.

At the very least though, The 1975 are such a nice band to photograph, their light show and backdrop make for something different than the monotonous black backgrounds that you so always end up with at these kind of shows. Click on the photo to redirect you to the set on flickr!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Television: Magician Impossible

There are few things in this world that scare me; roller coasters, heights, spiders, moths, flying, coaches, dying alone; you get the picture. However Steven Frayne, more commonly known as Dynamo, takes that to a whole new level. I'm honestly scared that the man could kill me with a playing card, or my own festival wristbands. The tricks that he manages to do are completely astounding, such as predicting future newspaper headlines, moving people's tan lines, and what about walking on water? The man is a freak.

That said, it's television. There must be some element of camera trickery there that other magicians, the poor street musicians lack. There must be. Tell me there is. My mother's started believing that Dynamo is actually magic, and I must say I'm starting to believe her.

Friday, 13 September 2013

LIVE: Keaton Henson

Keaton Henson is probably one of the most adorable people in the world of music at the moment. He suffers from fairly major anxiety, and so last night playing in front of 1,000 people at The Emmanuel Centre in London must be one of his worst nightmares. In his tradition of not playing mainstream venues, earlier in the year he did a tour of museums, tonight's venue is a gorgeous church with the most perfect tiered seating as so to offer a view to every member of this evening's crowd. Who are as diverse a bunch as you'll find. Many still have work attire and briefcases, whilst others look more suited to a One Direction concert. Either way, when there's more glasses of wine than any other beverage you know you're in classy company.

Starting off with his string quartet's slow build, Henson walked in to a huge round of applause - maybe not the best way to greet a man who sings that "the crowds unsettle me" but it set the tone for the evening nonetheless. Between songs you can tell the man's incredibly uncomfortable, taking sips of water, deep breaths and pushing his hair back into place, but the fact that when he starts playing everything that resonates from him is perfect is a testament to him. "Thank you all for coming... This is fucking terrifying" he exclaims a few songs in, as well as "Shh... You'll frighten the quartet". He's not a man without humour, and many of his words between songs bring some light relief to an intense hour of music.

Of course everybody came for the heartbreaking melodies, combined with anguish-fuelled lyrics - and they might wish they hadn't because it was absolutely perfect. Keaton's naturally soft voice, combined with the atmosphere within the room created something magical. Closing with 'You' before leaving to a standing ovation. Luckily he came back to play his cover of 'You Were Always On My Mind'.

There's no doubt that the sky's the limit for Mr Henson, it really just depends how high he wants to go.