Weekly Listen: James Bay brings the Chaos and the Calm to our ears

This week, I’m spicing things up and doing a weekly listen instead of the usual Weekly Watch. (This will be a rather short post as I’m currently in the stressful deadline period for my last year at uni!)

James Bay’s debut album, ‘Chaos and the Calm’, hit the shelves today and I’ve been listening to it as I’ve been working throughout the day so I thought I’d share my opinion.

This may be one of the most anticipated albums of the year after James Bay won the Critics Choice Award at this year’s BRIT awards and sold out his entire UK tour. It’s pretty impressive to sell out a tour before the release of the first album.

The single, ‘Hold Back The River’, received a remarkable reception and set James off to a great start in gaining support from the public and critics.

On to the album, it certainly has both the chaos and the calm as named. I was partially expecting this album to be slow ballads but there is a real change of tempo throughout the album.

James Bay has a beautiful voice which I have fell in love with. It’s soulful, powerful, soft, familiar and different all at the same time.

I think there is many relatable songs on this album, it is clear the lyrics are from the heart.

One of my favourite more upbeat songs is ‘Best Fake Smile’, which is not a style I was expecting from James Bay. Also, it has a brilliant name!

My favourite slower track is ‘Need the Sun to Break’. It really exposes his voice and shows how wonderful his voice is.

The only criticism I have of the album is James’ voice is pretty similar throughout, which is great if you fall in love with his voice like me, but if it isn’t your cup of tea then you’ll be disappointed with the entire album.

This album is definitely worth listen. I won’t say too much and let you judge for yourself! (Also, because I need to go back to writing essays!)

If you’ve not heard of James Bay yet… Have you been living underneath a rock? Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of him, go listen to the album now and you’re all caught up! Hope you enjoy the new music as much as I am.

Review: Hudson Taylor in Bristol

Folk-pop duo, Hudson Taylor, took to the stage at Bristol’s Trinity Centre last night and wowed the audience with an impressive set.

The Irish duo is made up of brothers Alfie and Harry who are set to release their debut album, Singing for Strangers, on the 30th of March. Since 2012, Hudson Taylor have released a number of EPs including Battles, Cinematic Lifestyle, Osea and Weapons.

The sold-out show was full of surprises with guest appearances from singer-songwriter, Gabrielle Aplin, and support act, Jack Morris.

Hudson Taylor kicked off the show with ‘Just A Thought’ which features on their debut album, Singing For Strangers. The band went on to play their popular tracks ‘Weapons’ and ‘Second Best’,  before introducing the audience to the new track ‘Don’t Tell Me’. The song had the audience dancing and Harry confessed that the “song is in danger of being too fun to play”.

The duo, accompanied by their band, played additional tracks that feature on the debut album including their next single, ‘World Without You’, ‘Wildfires’, ‘Trouble Town’ and ‘For The Last Time’.

Hudson Taylor also treated their fans to many of the popular songs from their EPs including ‘Called On’, ‘Chasing Rubies’, ‘Care’ and ‘Cinematic Lifestyle’.

Local to Bristol, singer-songwriter, Gabrielle Aplin, joined Hudson Taylor on stage to sing a beautiful rendition of ‘Beautiful Mistake’. Aplin, later returned to the stage with support act, Jack Morris, to sing ‘Don’t Know Why’, a bonus track from Singing For Strangers. The duet got the audience involved which created an electrifying atmosphere.

The band treated the audience to a completely acoustic version of ‘Holly’ by turning off the microphones to play to a memorised and silent audience. ‘Holly’ received a remarkable reception from the audience with huge cheers for the duo’s performance.

Hudson Taylor shook things up when playing ‘Stranger’ turned in to a cover of AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ that instantly got the audience singing along to the rock hit.

The Irish duo finished their set on ‘Drop of Smoke’ from the 2012 EP, Battles. The crowd sang their hearts out to the final song and Hudson Taylor received an incredible roar of cheers as they left the stage.

Hudson Taylor put on an exceptional and intimate show and are certainly one to watch after supporting some big names such as the Rolling Stones, Jake Bugg, Kodaline and The Script. The debut album, Singing for Strangers, is available to pre-order now.

Weekly Watch: Band Aid is Back

Bob Geldof is back with a new Band Aid line-up and the D0 They Know It’s Christmas? single to help fight Ebola in West Africa.

The Band Aid 30 line-up is remarkable with One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Rita Ora, Sam Smith, Emeli Sandé, Ellie Goulding, Bastille, Bono, Paloma Faith, Guy Garvey of Elbow, Olly Murs, Seal, Sinead O’Connor, Queen’s Roger Taylor, Jessie Ware and Coldplay’s Chris Martin.

The video even features some famous You-Tubers including Zoella Sugg and Joe and Alfie Deyes. The vloggers are helping to spread the word about the video to their millions of subscribers.

100% of the purchase goes to the cause and you can buy the single on iTunes here: http://po.st/DoTheyKnow

This is a worthy cause and a great way of donating as you get the classic Christmas song too!

Buy the Song. Stop the Virus.

Review: Reading Festival 2014

Photo Courtesy of Ticketmaster

Photo Courtesy of Ticketmaster Blog

The line-up for Reading Festival 2014 was pretty impressive which resulted in a fully sold-out festival. If you’ve ever been to a festival you know you’ll have an amazing time by listening to some of your favourite music, meeting new people, having campfires and discovering new talents. Here’s a look at the music across the stages throughout the weekend:

Headliners

Friday night made history with the festival’s first co-headline sets from Paramore and Queens of the Stone Age. Paramore took to the stage first and wowed the audience with music from all four of their studio albums. The band put on an energetic performance with lots of confetti and flashing lights. Paramore faced a technical problem when the sound cut out during their set. This led to the magical moment of Hayley Williams singing ‘The Only Exception’ a cappella with the audience. The technical issue turned out to create the most unforgettable memory for the audience and the band with Hayley exclaiming “Oh my gosh, I’m never going to forget this”.

Queens of the Stone Age closed Friday night with lots of lasers and classic rock songs. The band played an amazing set but it felt like the connection with the audience was missing.

Arctic Monkeys headlined Saturday night and gathered possibly one of Reading Festival’s biggest crowds in history. The crowd went crazy for their old classics such as ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ and ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ but also went mad for the more recent songs from the number 1 album, AM. You can watch the band finish their set with ‘R U Mine?’ below:

Sunday night saw Blink-182 bring the festival to an end and had the crowd singing and dancing along. However, the American pop-punk band did not sound brilliant and were out of tune at times. This did not affect the audience who loved every minute of their performance and the show had a great atmosphere. Blink-182’s set was certainly fun and they had the audience laughing at their jokes.

Main Stage Acts

Jake Bugg played the main stage before Arctic Monkeys on Saturday night. He put on a remarkable performance as the sun set on Reading Festival. Bugg played many of his popular songs such as ‘Two Fingers’, ‘Me and You’ and ‘Lightning Bolt’.

You Me At Six played an energetic show on Sunday afternoon as they played songs from various albums. They welcomed Alex from All Time Low on stage to sing ‘Fresh Start Fever’ with them and to announce their UK co-headline tour taking place in February. The band as always were very grateful to play to such a large crowd on the main stage.

A Day To Remember played a brilliant rock show on Sunday performing many of their top hits including ‘The Downfall of Us’, ‘All Signs Point to Lauderdale’ and an acoustic version of ‘If It Means A Lot To You’. Lead singer, Jeremy McKinnon, got into a giant hamster ball and crowd-surfed during one of the songs in the middle of the set. Watch Jeremy in the giant hamster ball below:

NME/BBC Radio 1 

Lead singer of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way, made his debut solo performance on the NME/BBC Radio 1 Friday morning. A huge crowd formed for his debut performance, most likely hoping for a few MCR songs which never got played. The frontman play a great set on his own but all the songs were new and unknown so the audience weren’t able to sing along.

Bombay Bicycle Club played an amazing set on Saturday night and had a huge crowd gathered with the tent overflowing. The band welcomed Lucy Rose on stage to sing ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Wherever, Whenever’ and Rae Morris joined them on stage to sing ‘Luna’. Bombay Bicycle Club were magical as they lit up the tent with bright colours and amazing sounds. I’m sure it won’t be long before the band play the main stage.

Smaller Stages

Hudson Taylor played the Festival Republic Stage on Friday afternoon and played an amazing set to an overflowing tent. Hudson Taylor are a folk-pop band formed by two brothers from Ireland, who have built their fan base from posting videos on YouTube. The band had a large crowd come to watch them perform which is impressive considering they are yet to release their debut album. The band also made their first UK TV debut during the festival which you can watch below:

American rock band, Mayday Parade, took to the Festival Republic Stage on Sunday night and put on a great performance of their biggest hits, including ‘Jersey’, ‘Jamie All Over’ and ‘Three Cheers for Five Years’.. The band’s fans were there in force with the audience singing along with every word. The only downfall of the set was that it was not long enough to play all the songs the crowd wanted to hear.

Alternative Stage

The alternative stage offered entertainment away from the music with many comedians performing stand-up comedy.

Bill Bailey was hilarious and incorporated music into his comedy on Friday afternoon. The comedian, who is best known for his role in Black Books, had the audience in stitches as he told jokes and played variations of songs, such as singing Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’ in German and Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’ in a West Country accent. The Alternative Stage tent was rammed full with people laughing.

Bill Bailey. Photo courtesy of Viagogo.

Bill Bailey. Photo courtesy of Viagogo.

Seann Walsh. Photo courtesy of Reading Festival.

Seann Walsh. Photo courtesy of Reading Festival.

Seann Walsh took to the stage on Sunday and put on a humorous show about living with his girlfriend. The stand-up comedy was relatable to the audience with many people laughing and nodding in agreement. Seann Walsh made his first comedy performance in 2007 and went on to win Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year within two years.

Reading 2014 was a remarkable year for the festival and will be tough to top in 2015!

Who to watch at Reading Festival 2014?

At a festival there’s always a huge line-up and trying to decide who to watch can be difficult. I’ve come up with some suggestions of who’s not to be missed. The festival is sold out and there’s only a week to go so it’s time to get planning your lineup.

Main Stage

The main stage has some amazing acts this year and the 2014 headliners are pretty impressive. There’s even an extra headliner on Friday night when Paramore and Queens of the Stone Age co-headline, Arctic Monkeys will rock the stage on Saturday and Blink-182 will take you back to your youth on Sunday.

Arctic Monkeys are sure to play a number of hits from their most recent and number 1 album ”AM’ but hopefully they’ll play some of their classics too.

Blink-182 is sure to be pop-punk fun, a chance for sing-a-long and will take you back to your childhood.

On Friday, Blood Red Shoes are definitely worth watching after they played a great set at the festival in 2012. Vampire Weekend are bound to put on a fantastic show as they return to the festival for the first time since 2009.

Foster the People and  The Hives both play the main stage on Saturday after putting on a hell of a show on the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage in 2012. The atmosphere in the tent was electric and the crowd was wild. You can check out Foster the People’s closing their set with ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ below.

Jake Bugg is set to play before Arctic Monkeys on Saturday night. Even though he may not be bursting with personality, Bugg does make great music which he performs amazingly live.

On Sunday Papa Roach will blast their rock hits and ‘Last Resort’ is certain to make the crowd go wild. You Me At Six also take to the stage for some lighter rock and they always put on a tremendous show.

The main stage features many huge acts throughout the weekend and you could easily stay at the stage all weekend but make sure you explore some of the smaller stages at the festival.

NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage

On Friday, My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way will make his global debut as a solo act so that may be one to check out if you’re a MCR fan. There’s not many clues of what to expect from his performance but he’s always been one to give 100% on stage. You can check out his new solo single below.

Saturday night will see Bombay Bicycle Club take to the tent and they will light up the tent with their feel-good vibe.

The 1975 and The Horrors play the stage on Sunday night and they should bring an awesome indie-vibe to the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage.

Other Stages

The Festival Republic stage has some great acts on Friday with Palma Violets headlining the stage. If you’re a fan of indie-rock then they are not to be missed.

Jimmy Eat World are playing an additional set on the Lock Up Stage on Friday night (as well as playing the main stage) so you have two opportunities to catch them and sing along to ‘The Middle’.

Folk-pop band, Hudson Taylor, also play the Festival Republic stage on Friday. The Irish duo resemble the likes of Mumford and Sons and have supported Jake Bugg. Have a listen to ‘Care’ below because they’re certain to put on a great show.

If you’re looking for something heavier, then The Pit on Saturday is the stage for you. Catch Of Mice & Men headline and cause some mosh pits.

On Sunday, American rock band, Mayday Parade play the Festival Republic stage where they’ll play their number of hits.

The Alternative Stage has some great comedians over the weekend, such as Milton Jones on Friday, Katherine Ryan on Saturday and Seann Walsh on Sunday. If you need a break from the music, go get some laughs at the Alternative Stage.

Surprise Act?

There is reportedly going to be a surprise performance at this year’s Reading festival from an “arena sized band”, according to NME.

In 2012, Green Day performed a surprise set on the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage and it was amazing. If there is a secret set by an act this year then it’s sure to not be missed.

Listen out for any rumours when you’re at the festival because there’s bound to be some clues. You’re not going to want to miss out on the surprise!

If you don’t have a ticket, don’t worry because you can catch all the best action on BBC Three and Radio 1. If you are going, I hope you have the best time ever! Keep your eyes peeled for our review the week following the festival.

Weekly Watch: Ed Sheeran Releases Music Video for ‘Don’t’

This week’s watch is of the new music video released from Ed Sheeran. The talented singer-songwriter has uploaded the video for ‘Don’t’, his next single from the number 1 album ‘X’.

The song is catchy, it will have you dancing and singing away and is the perfect choice to release as a single.

The video focuses on a talented dancer that break-dances through a variety of houses and outfits, from poor to rich. It could be a sign of Ed’s rise to fame throughout his music career so far.

The music video uses sound effects to fit in with the action on-screen. The dancer jumps in a pool and the water becomes muffled which really adds something special to the video.

Although, the video does not focus on Ed Sheeran, he does make a few appearances throughout! See how many times you can spot him and enjoy the new video.

Weekly Watch: Lauren Aquilina Live at St Pancras

Singer-songwriter, Lauren Aquilina, surprised passer-bys at St Pancras railway station by performing a cover of Sam Smith‘s song ‘Stay With Me’.

Lauren Aquilina is a 19-year-old, singer-songwriter of British and Maltese descent who this year signed a recording contract with Island Records and Universal Music Group. She began her career by uploading home-recorded videos of herself singing covers of other artist’s song and her original songs. Aquilina then went on to independently release three EPs, ‘Fools’, ‘Sinners’ and ‘Liars” which you can listen to on iTunes here.

Aquilina covered the number 1 single ‘Stay With Me’ by the 2014 BRIT Critics’ Choice Award Winner, Sam Smith, using just a piano and her beautiful voice in the busy train station. Many passer-bys stop to listen to her breathtaking voice.

The video which was posted on YouTube has already received 20,000 views in three days and has reportedly been seen by Sam Smith who liked it according to Lauren Aquilina’s twitter.

I’ve selected this video as my weekly watch because it is so simple and beautifully sang. The cover is definitely worth a watch!