Album Review : Mumford & Sons ‘Wilder Mind’

mumford-sons-wilder-mindartwork750Marcus Mumford and co return with an altogether understated, confident third album. Gone are the banjos, tweed waistcoats and barn dance stompalongs, replaced with Springsteen-esque driving rock-lite.

But has the self-imposed banjo ban killed the band’s success?

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Live Review: Queen & Adam Lambert – London Hammersmith Apollo 11/7/12

Two weeks ago I was offered the chance of a lifetime – one of my Twitter pals (@timesmasher) offered me a pair of spare tickets for one of just three shows that Queen were playing in London. As luck would have it, I happened to be in London on just that night, so I seized the opportunity. A lifelong Queen fan and a (relatively) new Adam Lambert fan, I knew that this would be a night to remember.

Before their recent string of shows in Moscow & Poland, I remember reading an interview with Adam, where the interviewer asked him how he felt about filling the shoes of Freddie Mercury. I liked his answer a lot:

“I do have big shoes to fill, fronting with Queen. But – I’m bringing my own shoes. Ones Freddie would have thought were cute.”

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Live Review: Regina Spektor – Manchester O2 Apollo 4/7/12

Kooky. Unique. Quirky.

Ask anyone to describe the experience of hearing a Regina Spektor song for the first time and I guarantee that one of those three words will pop up at some point.

I first heard Regina’s song ‘Fidelity’ playing in a clothes shop in New York back in 2006. I’m a sucker for a great pop song, but there was something utterly quirky about her voice that made me stop and listen [dammit, third paragraph and I’ve already used ‘quirky’]! I was instantly a fan. Seeing her live for the first time at Glastonbury 2009 was a terrific experience and I couldn’t wait to see her in a more intimate setting.

Earlier this year Regina released her latest album “What We Saw From The Cheap Seats”. I wouldn’t call our seats cheap…but this is what we saw/heard from our seats that night.

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Live Review: Foster The People – Manchester Academy 25/4/12

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Standing amongst a hot, sweaty, dancing mass of students, kids, couples and forty-somethings in Manchester Academy last night, it’s hard to believe that Mark Foster founded the Californian band just three years ago. He originally named the band Foster & the People, but people misheard it as “Foster The People”. Eventually, he took to the nurturing image it evoked of “taking care” of people, so the name stuck.

Their hit single “Pumped Up Kicks” finished 2011 as the sixth-best-selling digital song of the year, with 3.61 million copies sold. By the time the group took a break in December 2011 they had toured for 10 consecutive months to promote their album Torches.

Last night marked the first show of their European tour, which will take them on to London, Cologne, Berlin, Paris, Brussels and Warsaw.

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Album Review: Ed Sheeran ‘+’

Ed Sheeran has taken the charts by storm this year, with a fan base who have been established since 2005. In the lead-up to Ed’s album release, the Guardian review compared a track on ‘+’ to the “grisly” Match.com adverts. Ed’s army of fans rushed to Twitter to defend him and the journalist involved with the review even made contact with Ed directly to acknowledge the overwhelming support that Sheeran has amassed  (see here). Read on to see if I agree with what he said… Continue reading

Album Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘I’m With You’

After 2006’s bloated 28-track ‘Stadium Arcadium’, Red Hot Chili Peppers are back with a new lead guitarist, a handlebar moustache, and a new album, offering flirtations of rock, funk and disco (yes, disco). Following a career that has spanned over 30 years, bassist Flea cites “life and death” as the major theme of ‘I’m With You’, their 10th album. For the most part, it’s business as usual….and that’s not such a bad thing. Continue reading

Live Review: Ed Sheeran – York Duchess 03/08/11

At the young age of 20, Ed Sheeran has accomplished quite a bit. He’s been releasing music independently and touring since 2005. His big break came back in April, when BBC Radio 1 featured his single ‘The A Team’ as their record of the week. A signing to Atlantic Records followed, along with a full UK tour. When ‘The A Team’ was eventually released in June, it shot straight to No 3 in the singles chart and has remained there for over two months.

Which brings us to a hot, sweaty night in one of York’s most ‘unique’ venues, the bat-cave-inspired Duchess.

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Album Review: Mona ‘Mona’

Since appearing in the BBC’s Sound of 2011 poll, and winning the Brand New for 2011 title at the MTV Awards, the Nashville 4-piece Mona have gone from strength to strength. Their debut album, ‘Mona’ was released in May 2011 and was accompanied with the following blurb on their website:

“The only thing slick about Mona is their hair. The rest is arm-pumping, vein-throbbing, knee-jittering, raw-throated, singalong rock’n’roll.”

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Album Review: Lady Gaga ‘Born This Way’

Born This Way is Lady Gaga’s 2nd official studio album, after 2008’s ‘The Fame’ was spun off in 2009, released as ‘The Fame Monster’ with 8 new tracks.

Since 2009, the Madonna comparisons have escalated, her online following has grown (Gaga now has a Twitter following of over 10 milion ‘little monsters’), and her extreme image has entered bizarre new heights. She was also recently named Time Magazine’s 5th most powerful person in the world. Not bad for a girl who started her career aged 14, playing clubs on New York’s lower east side.

In the run-up to the release, Gaga explained:

The album is my absolute greatest work I’ve ever done and I’m so excited about it. The message, the melodies, the direction, the meaning, what it will mean to my fans and what it will mean in my own life – it’s utter liberation.

Can the most-anticipated album of the 2011 live-up to this kind of hype?

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