Tramlines 2017 Review

FRIDAY

Opening up the main stage for this year’s Tramlines were local band Liberty Ship, who definitely deserved that big slot, providing an upbeat set of crowd-pleasing indie rock that kicked things off proper.

Following on from Liberty Ship were Scottish rockers Twin Atlantic.TA9.JPG

Drawing a big crowd fairly early on, Twin Atlantic were one of the tightest acts of the weekend, kicking their set off with ‘Whispers’ from last year’s GLA album.

After a few songs from them however, I had to dash over to the Devonshire Green stage to catch US Hip Hop Legends The Pharcyde. PS2.JPG

One of the most high-energy, fun sets of the weekend came from The Pharcyde.

Getting the crowd moving and making noise on every song, and Bootie doing his part from Dirty Harry by Gorillaz was one of my highlights of the weekend.

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Closing the Devonshire Green stage on Friday was Mercury nominated grime legend Kano.  Alongside an incredible live band, Kano performed cuts from his latest album, Made in The Manor alongside some old favourites. Many big grime acts have someone else to fill in the gaps when they need to take a breath bars, but Kano did not need that at all, effortlessly spitting even through the rain.

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SATURDAY

Saturday was wet. But that didn’t stop Sheffield. The first act of the day for me were the ever-brilliant Estrons.

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As punchy as ever, Estrons delivered a great set to an upbeat Dev Green crowd despite the threatening weather, with big hitters ‘Make a Man’ and ‘Drop’ getting the slightly damp crowd moving.

Next up were another act that I had seen a few times before, and knew that they would be great; Spring King.

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I was expecting a good crowd for Spring King, but they had the liveliest crowd of the weekend, with most songs ending up with a mosh pit, much to the delight of Tarek and co.

After a short, very wet interlude, it was time for the Saturday night headliners, Primal Scream.

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A large amount of people had left before Primal Scream had even started, the weather was that bad. But those who braved the rain knew they had made the right decision as soon as the opening of ‘Movin on Up’ blasted out across the Ponderosa. A greatest hits set in the biggest way possible, massive track like ‘Loaded’, ‘Rocks’ and ‘Come Together’ did their best to shake away the clouds.

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SUNDAY

Having mostly dried off from the night before, it was out to the main stage for Akala.

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Akala drew a massive crowd for 3 in the afternoon, bringing his fire from the booth to the Tramlines main stage.

After Akala’s short and sharp set, Loyle Carner took to the (very smartly dressed) stage.

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Launching into his set with ‘The Isle of Arran’, Loyle played a blinder of a set, getting a great reception from the main stage crowd. Witty lyrics with great delivery made for one of the highlights of the festival, with set closer ‘NO CD’ going off in a big way.

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After Loyle, it was back over to Devonshire Green for The Big Moon. tbm13.JPG

Starting off with ‘Silent Movie Susie’ before ripping through most of ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’, The Big Moon were one of the best acts of the weekend.

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Closing Tramlines 2017 were Metronomy.m6.JPG

Despite it being another wet one, the main stage was rammed. ‘Back Together’ from ‘Summer ’08’ kicked off Metronomy’s hit filled set, with ‘Old Skool’ from the same album following that. The whole hour was filled with memorable synth lines that got Sheffield grooving in the rain, from ‘The Bay’ right through to closer ‘Reservoir’. The final, and best act of the weekend.

Overall, another great year for Tramlines. Very well organised with very friendly, helpful staff and one of the most diverse festival lineups I have seen this year.

97%

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7/7/17 New Release Roundup

Wolf Alice – Don’t Delete The Kisses: The second track from Wolf Alice’s upcoming second album is nowhere near as angry as the first cut from the record, but it is just as good, with Ellie’s vocals sounding strong without being vicious. 85%

dodie – 6/10: The new single from dodie starts off as a subtle piano ballad before the vocals layer up beautifully towards the end of the track. 84%

Ella Taylor – summer sun: This shoegazey, summery track from Ella has real charm to it, with a subtle synth melody over the top of the lo-fi vocals. I like the little groovy synth bit right at the end too. 85%

Ghostpoet – Freakshow: Another great single from Ghostpoet, Freakshow has a similar tone to previous release ‘Immigrant Boogie’ but this track packs more of a punch, with a really catchy repeated guitar riff in the chorus. 90%

AlunaGeorge – Turn Up The Love: This is a really catchy synth-pop song from AlunaGeorge, which is exactly what you would expect from them really. 75%

Coldplay – A L I E N S: Unfortunately this seems to echo more of Coldplay’s dull and uninspired ‘Ghost Stories’ album rather than their last, joyful, colourful album that was the best they had been for a long time. Shame. 40%

Zedd and Liam Payne – Get Low: He really is the worst one from 1D isn’t he? 20%

Mura Masa ft. Tom Tripp – helpline: Another great track from Mura Masa’s upcoming self-titled album, with another great collaborator in Tom Tripp bringing great vocals to the cut. 80%

 
 

16/6/17 New Release Roundup

Singles

Wolf Alice – Yuk Foo: This is Wolf Alice’s first single from their upcoming 2nd album ‘Visions of A Life’ and they definitely aren’t holding back upon their return. The track is furious straight out of the gates, with Ellie Rowsell’s vocal performance being incredibly strong. 90%

Everything Everything – Can’t Do: Everything Everything return with their first single since last year’s one-off track ‘I Believe It Now’ and unsurprisingly it’s a banger. Dancey synths back the catchy but angsty chorus of “Help me, I can’t do the thing you want” and with the repetitive hook of ‘It’s up to me’ this song will not leave your head. Good. 92%

The Killers – The Man: ‘The Man’ is the Killers’ first new track since 2013 and it’s just fine. A disco-pop track that probably wouldn’t get much attention if it wasn’t by The Killers. 60%

Declan McKenna – Humongous: Declan McKenna continues his streak of releasing great singles with ‘Humongous’. The track starts off as an emotional guitar ballad before exploding towards the end. 95%

Queens Of The Stone Age – The Way You Used To Do: This new Mark Ronson produced single is standard QOTSA stuff, but that isn’t a bad thing. 75%

Three Laws – Siren Song: ‘Siren Song’ is a well produced, spacious electro-pop ballad that is still somehow really catchy despite being slow and melancholy. Nice vocals too. 75% 

Albums

Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?: This is the second album from rock duo Royal Blood, and it’s pretty much business as usual. There are a few stand out tracks like the brilliant ‘Lights Out’ that have more energy and power than cuts from their debut, but the majority of the songs sound very safe and like they could knock each of them up without much thought. 60%                                                                                                          Best 3: Lights Out, Hook Line & Sinker, Don’t Tell

Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up: Fleet Foxes return with their first album since 2011, and it was well worth the wait. Opening track ‘I Am All That I Need/ Arroyo Seco/ Thumbprint Scar’ starts off drearily and slow before bursting into a beautiful, layered track. That level of production is constantly there throughout the album, with the vocals sounding exceptionally beautiful on tracks like ‘Kept Woman’. My favourite track on the album is ‘Third of May/ Odaigahara’, the track sounds really big and spacious without being too boring. Many of the tracks are well over 6 minutes long but at no point does the LP drag on or get dull. Overall a beautiful, well produced record. 95%                                             Best 3: I Am All That I Need/ Arroyo Seco/ Thumbprint Scar, Kept Woman, Third of May, Odaigahara

Lorde – Melodrama: The long awaited follow-up to Lorde’s debut album ‘Pure Heroine’ does not disappoint. Brilliant lead single ‘Green Light’ kicks off the album, and the quality of songwriting and performance is consistently up there throughout. ‘Writer in The Dark’ is another album highlight, being a piano ballad with great lyrics, a vocal performance that sounds genuine and a slightly off-kilter vocal production and that make it stand out against most similar tracks out today. 95%                                              Best 3: Green Light, Sober, Writer In The Dark

 

Amber Arcades- Cannonball EP Review.

This EP follows on from 2016’s brilliant ‘Fading Lines’ album and the quality of Annelotte’s songwriting and melodies hasn’t wavered.

A cover of a track originally by Nick Drake kicks off the project, with ‘Which Will’ being brilliantly interpreted; it doesn’t sound out of place with any of the tracks on this EP or her debut album.

Second track ‘It Changes’ is AA’s strongest track to date. Upbeat and punchy from the first guitar chord, the track is a burst of summery guitar goodness, with the vocal hook being one of the catchiest of the year.

‘Wouldn’t Even Know’ featuring ex-Coral man Bill Ryder Jones is another brilliant track, this one a lot more melancholic than ‘It Changes’, but in no way is it boring, with Bill’s vocals only adding to the track rather than feeling shoehorned in as a feature.

Title track ‘Cannonball’ closes off the EP with a slow, emotional track that really highlights the vocal performance from Annelotte. Overall this is a really, really strong EP that shows a lot of promise for any future releases from Amber Arcades.

 

97%

Best 3 – It Changes, Wouldn’t Even Know, Which Will

 

 

 

 

 

 

19/5/17 New Release Roundup

Singles

The Dears- 1998: This track, taken from The Dears’ upcoming album ‘Times Infinity Volume Two’ is an emotional cut; the repeated refrain ‘This Is Being Alive’ comes across as genuine, with frontman Murray Lightburn putting in a great vocal performance. 85%

Royal Blood – Hook, Line and Sinker: This is the second single to be taken from Royal Blood’s upcoming sophomore album ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ and is pretty much what you’d expect a new track from the duo to sound like. Even so, the track still has the same energy and drive and muse-esque riffs that drew fans to them in the first place, and it is brilliantly produced; the track really shows off the chemistry between Mike and Ben. 80%

Liam Payne ft. Quavo– Strip That Down: ‘Strip That Down’ is the debut single from everyone’s 5th favourite One Direction member, and it’s definitely the worst release out of the lot so far. Really unoriginal bland track with cringy lyrics. 10%  

Plan B – In The Name Of Man: Plan B returns with his first track since his ‘Ill Manors’ project, and this is a lot less ‘in your face’, sounding in line with Ben stating that there will be no rapping on his new album as it doesn’t feel natural. A well sung track with some thoughtful lyrics, but nothing too exciting 70%

Dead Sea – Lotion: Delicate swirling synths kick this track from Parisian 4 piece Dead Sea off, and the whole thing is a beautifully layered synth-pop track, with the vocals standing out while not being overproduced or too off-kilter. 80%

Selena Gomez – Bad Liar: With spoken/sung vocals and a minimalist backing track, at first this track doesn’t seem like much but after a few listens the repetitive ‘I’m trying, I’m trying’ chorus won’t leave your head, and the great, stripped-back production means there isn’t anything there to hide Selena’s vocals, which while aren’t powerful or massively dynamic, fit this track perfectly. 84%

Muse – Dig Down: Right from the start this track sounds like it belongs from Muse’s 2012 album ‘The 2nd Law’ with it’s pulsing synth and layered vocal production being similar to that of big single ‘Madness’. Good, but just sounds like Muse. 70%

Albums

Tricot – 3: This is the 3rd album from Japanese band Tricot, and is a collection of fast-paced indie rock songs Closing track ‘Melon Soda’ is an album highlight for me, with Ikkyu Nakajima’s vocals really making the track endearing and pleasant on the ears. 80%

Oumou Sangaré – Mogora: Great vocals throughout in this new album from the Grammy winning Malian songstress, with second track ‘Yere Faga’ featuring Tony Allen being an album highlight for me, showing she can still bring out tracks with engaging melodies that sound fresh at this point in her career. 89%

Pumarosa – The Witch: This is the debut album from Pumarosa and it didn’t really impress me, with opening track ‘Dragonfly’ being just dreary, and many of the tracks being really similar to each other, making the whole thing kind of forgettable. 30% 

Linkin Park – One More Light: If they were trying to make the cheesiest, most cringe-worthy album of the year so far, they succeeded, with most of the tracks sounding like Imagine Dragons crossed with the Backstreet Boys, and lots of sounds from contemporary dance music sounding shoehorned in. 8%