This Week’s Top Picks – 23rd November

Olly Murs –Troublemaker

This image shows Olly Murs stood against a bright blue background whilst holding his hat.He’s been pretty successful over here in the UK over the last couple of years, and now, as with most artists, he wants to try and crack America. And with a voice as unique and as catchy as his, he probably wouldn’t have much difficulty doing it alone. But in this new record, he’s teamed up with Flo Rida.

To be honest, it’s quite difficult to see why he’s done this. The majority of the song is typically Olly – it’s catchy, upbeat, and packs a punch of personality that gets you drumming along with it. Olly’s obviously still in the limelight with this one, but when Flo Rida comes in, it almost seems kind of pointless. I can see why you’d want to put someone into a song who’s already famous across the pond to try and crack it yourself, but this song is already so perfectly structured and loveable that it just seems unnecessary and waives the attention away slightly from Olly’s style. Still an amazing tune though!


Girls Aloud – Something New

This image shows the five members of Girls Aloud stood in a line, wearing purple dresses and against an orange background.

It seems like an age since Girls Aloud announced they were taking a yearlong break, but now they’re finally back and arguably better than ever. Whilst the vocals on their comeback single ‘Something New’ still aren’t perfect, the catchiness and typical Girls aloud style make up for that!

For the first few listens, it’s likely to sound rather undesirable. As a definite grower, you really will have to listen a few times before it hits you. But when it hits, it’ll hit hard, and it’ll swallow up your head for the rest of the day. It stays true to their older stuff, with a poppy and light tone, but you can also see how they’ve all developed since they took a break. They’ve adapted their style ever so slightly, so that if fits in pretty much perfectly with the current charts. It’s definitely something new, and is brilliant!


Example – The Evolution of Man

This image shows Example's album cover, which is of him holding a photo of himself as a child, whilst facing a huge crowd of peopleAs his fourth studio album, progression and development as an artist would of course be expected. And there’s definitely a lot of this. The album in general seems to have taken a slightly new angle, and when comparing it to his previous album, Playing In the Shadows, this change is in vision.

Far from being electric and quite uplifting, it actually seems more vapid and stripped back. Not in an extreme way though, in fact, there are sections where you’d probably not notice at all. Whilst it does sound really familiar, and tunes like Perfect Replacement are super clubby, it’s much deeper and his personality is glowing through in a way that’s almost blinding. The title of the record refers directly to Example himself, and the way in which he’s moved on from things like drugs. As you’d expect, it’s catchy. Very catchy, and the transitions between singing and rap are perfect. There’s just something really special and friendly about his voice that makes it impossible not to listen.

It easily sounds as good as his last couple of albums, and might just be his greatest one to date.

Mumford and Sons – Babel

Since back in July, fans of Mumford and Sons have been eagerly awaiting the release of their new album, “Babel”. Not long after this was announced, a 3 month long tour of America, Australia and the United Kingdom was penned, making up a total of 54 dates. This begs a simple question, if Mumford and Sons have achieved this in the short amount of time they have had, will their new record live up to expectation or will it fall victim to tricky second album syndrome.

The first thing that becomes apparent when listening through “Babel” is the fact the band don’t seem to have over worked themselves. The same banjo plucking manifests itself just like in their début album“Sigh No More”. But that isn’t to say its a bad thing they haven’t changed there style for the second album, as the famous saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. As Mumford and Sons have been touring all over the world, they have upgraded venues, from relatively small ones to arenas that seat up to 20,000. The new album sounds like it was produced with that major factor in mind, to be played to an amplitude of folk loving fans.

The title track “Babel” lends itself to this fact perfectly, with a punchy and catchy chorus that will surely be a festival anthem for this upcoming summer. New single “Lover Of the Night” is again more of the same, big choruses and melodies a plenty.“I Will Wait” is a personal favourite. The short, snappy chorus echoes back to their previous hit “Little Lion Man” uncannily, with a tune you will be hard pressed to get out of your head.

In reflection, “Babel” is a very good album that should not be taken lightly. It feels a lot tidier and neater round the edges than their début. There’s enough in terms of depth to the album for the avid fan to get there teeth into while they eagerly await their Mumford and Sons ticket to come through the post. It was always going to be tricky to emulate the highs of “Sigh No More” but in my opinion it does easily do this.

Green Day – iDos!

After a career spanning nearly 25 years, most bands are usually sat with their feet up, raking in the cash from the release of a greatest hits collection by now.

Not Green Day.

The evergreen (no pun intended), American, punk rock giants are in the middle of releasing a studio album trilogy with the second installment of the series, iDos!, being released in the UK yesterday. The first part, iUno!, was released only last month where as the final chapter of the trilogy, iTre!, comes next month on December 7th to complete the series.

Cover art for idos!

Cover art for iDos!

Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong has described iDos! as being “more garage rock—a little dirtier like you’re in the middle of a party” and after a few listens, it’s easy to see where he’s coming from. The title of the second track, F*** Time,  definitely echoes Billie Joe’s thoughts. The song, in a nutshell, is about sex, which is illustrated in Armstrong’s spicy lyrics  “You know I really wanna make you mine, Oh baby baby, it’s f*** time”. The song delves into 60’s rock and roll with its catchy blues riffs and solos and is reminiscent of the style of Green Day’s side project, Foxboro Hot Tubs. In fact, a recurring theme throughout the album is the similarities in its sound to Foxboro Hot Tubs, and this differs from the previous release in the three-part trilogy, iUno!, which has a more punk rock vibe to it.

The fourth song on the album, Lazy Bones, is one of the only songs on iDos! which carries Green Day’s full signature sound and could quite easily sit on many of their previous album releases. It contains a chord sequence which has been plucked straight from American Idiot’s, Give Me Novacaine, and has the chord changes and catchy choruses which Green Day have been writing all their careers.

With bass player Mike Dirnt appearing on the artwork for iDos!, I was expecting a big input from him on the album and he obliges on the tracks Makeout Party and Stray Heart. Both songs stand out in particular because of Dirnt—especially the lead single from the album, Stray Heart, which is driven by his signature bouncy, bass lines.

Towards the end of the album there are a few fillers—especially the track Nightlife which comes complete with guest vocals from Lady Cobra—the singer from the band Mystic Knights of the Cobra. The song is very experimental by Green Day’s standards in that it features Lady Cobra rapping and it could be questioned whether it fits in with the garage/60’s rock theme of the album. The final track, Amy, is a fitting way to end the album however. It’s a mellow ending so could be compared to Nimrod’s Good Riddance in that sense. If you pay close attention to the lyrics too, you get the sense that the song might just be dedicated to the late soul singer Amy Winehouse.

Overall iDos! is a good album from Green Day. It might not be as solid as some of their previous albums, and it certainly has a different feel to it, but having released ten studio albums now, the band can’t keep churning out the same material. The overwhelming feel from the album trilogy so far is that Green Day are having fun again and they have taken a new direction after the politically themed albums, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. With a career spanning nearly 25 years, some would forgive them for having a little fun.

It doesn’t look like they’ll be sitting with their feet up, raking in the cash from a greatest hits collection (post International Superhits), any time soon.

This Week’s Top Picks – 9th November

Ryan Keen – Back to the Ocean

by Luke Botham. 

This shows the cover of Ryan Keen's album. It shows a cartoon scene of boats riding on the sea towards the horizon in the night.If you’ve not heard of Ryan Keen, then it could easily be argued that your ears have missed out –big time. This year’s been a pretty amazing year for the Devon born singer/songwriter. Not only has he been on tour, had his music played multiple times on radio 1, and toured the UK, but he’s also received rave reviews and released a new EP just this week.

He’s an incredibly talented guitar player, and the calm and rhythmic way he uses it supplements and compliments his voice so well. His lyrics too are amazing, if you listen you can genuinely hear them pouring from his heart. They’re super personal and could be related to by so many people, and these are also perfect for his soft, calm, soothing voice. The obvious highlight of this EP, of course, is Ryan’s collaboration with Newton Faulkner on Reflections in the Water. Their voices, whilst slightly separate, do almost become one perfect uber voice on this song. And it’s amazing – it really proves both artists’ talents as singers and shows the Ryan Keen is a name you should be watching out for. If I had to compare him to anyone, aside of course from Newton, I’d say he has some slight similarities to Ben Howard, and that’s really nice to hear!

For more info on Ryan, you can check out his Facebookor follow him on Twitter.


My Chemical Romance – Number One

By Paul Battison.

American alternative rock band, My Chemical Romance, have been branded as a lot of things over the years. From post-hardcore, to ’emo’, to pop punk—what they’ve always consistently been is unique. They seem to reinvent themselves and their sound for whichever new album they are releasing. However they appear or sound though, most importantly, one thing always stays the same: their fans stay loyal. For their latest release then, a double sided single called Number One, things should be no different and there’s a good reason for this which I’ll get to.

This is the cover for My Chemical Romance - Number One.

Number One is part of a ten-song series of material called Conventional Weapons which will be released over the next five months. All of the material is previously unheard and on first listen, it sounds like My Chemical Romance have drew inspiration from their previously released albums which will please fans of the band. The A-side single, Boy Division, could quite easily sit alongside songs such as Give ‘Em Hell, Kid and Thank You For The Venom on their 2004 hit album, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. It’s a punk rock song which brims with energy angst filled lyrics. The B-side single, Tomorrow’s Money, would be more comfortable sitting on the band’s last studio album, Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys. It’s very upbeat and catchy and after only a couple of listens, you’ll find it sitting comfortably, laid back feet up, inside your head.

Number One is a solid release from the band and leaves you yearning for the next installment in the ten-song series. My Chemical Romance reinvent themselves so often, you’re often left with the question of “what next?” from band. With this release, it’s no different. They have so many styles and personas they can call upon when writing music, which direction the four-piece act from New Jersey is going to take next, is anyone’s guess.

You can find out more about the band by checking out their Facebookor following their Twitter.


Christmas Songs!

by Luke Botham

This is the cover for Now that's what I call Christmas 2012. It shows these words bursting out of red wrapping paper.

You might have read this title and had to look twice. But you’re not seeing things – this year’s first big Christmas album, Now That’s What I Call Christmas 2012, was actually released earlier this week.  It’s jam packed with everyone’s favourite Christmas songs, and let’s be honest, who can listen to the likes of Last Christmas and I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day and resist singing along? And even though it’s been released rather early, it is nice to see an album full of merry and seasonal tunes dropped in to the charts in comparison to some of the slightly grimmer songs that are out this week.

The only thing really bad about this album is the age of some of the tunes, which really are miles past their sell by date now! But there are a few people trying to remedy this situation this year. 90s boy band Backstreet Boys have released a brand new Christmas song –and it’s their comeback single! Whilst it is very cheesy, it’s surprisingly rather catchy, upbeat enough to work as a Christmas song, and you’ll almost definitely have it stuck in your head for hours after a few listens.


The Popdogs – Cool Cats For Pop Dogs

The city of Lincoln produces some great local bands, and these local bands can create some truly jaw-dropping tunes. Most people have a saddening habit of overlooking local music, so lets move the spotlight onto one Lincoln-based band that has me VERY excited.

Today I’ll be reviewing the upcoming debut album of a group of very clever canines who really shouldn’t be overlooked, no matter who you are, or what music you like.


I mean come on, throw the dog a bone.


This is the album artwork for The Popdog's new album - Cool Cats For Pop Dogs.

The Popdogs upcoming debut album:
Cool Cats For Pop Dogs


From Lincoln-based power-pop band The Popdogs comes the stunning new album, Cool Cats For Pop Dogs. The album features ten terrific tunes, including the seriously catchy “Queen Of The U.S.A”, and my personal favourite, the metrical and melodious “Honest Guy”.

The songs are simply structured for the most part, but that just adds to the seamless flow that every song possesses. Easy-listening, tuneful, and catchy as hell. It would be prudent to mention the classic power-pop guitar work in this album; the whole collection of songs is rife with bright melodies and well-articulated chords.

Each song retains the classic nuances of The Knack, R.E.M, The Beatles and The Byrds amongst other great power-pop bands, but with subtle modernisations that make the genre more accessible. For example, you won’t find the dominant bass riffs that this genre of music is known for (My Sharona by The Knack is a good example here), nor will you hear constant vocal harmonisation. What you WILL hear, are bright arpeggios in just the right places, and vocal harmonies being used to enhance choruses and other key parts in the songs.

It is, in my opinion, a very efficient and attractive design.

Other identifiable aspects of The Popdogs music include a real sense of rhythm. I challenge you to listen to their track “Kelly’s On” without bobbing your head along with it. Some of their songs are driven by punchy sequences of power chords for the melodies to float on and weave around. If you listen to Poison Heart by The Ramones, you’ll notice that The Popdogs have a bit of punk pedigree too.

Onto aesthetics, and you cannot deny, the album artwork is also pretty damn cool.

Have you ever seen a more awesome looking dog?


As far as the band goes, James Styring is the man behind the microphone providing those classic pop vocals, something which he does phenomenally well. Those bright guitar chops you hear are courtesy of  Mr Tim McKeating.

Once again, the album is called Cool Cats For Pop Dogs. You can find The Popdogs on Facebook, and you can find them on Reverbnation. Check ’em out, and give them your support.

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