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.