Counterfeit- Together We Are Stronger – 4/5

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A 10-Track Love Letter to the Old School

Counterfeit have exploded onto the British rock scene seemingly overnight, with an enviable spread in Kerrang! this week and a widely successful release of their debut album, Together We Are Stronger, through Xtra Mile Recordings.

You might recognise the hard-edged frontman from the moves – Jamie Campbell Bower has featured in the hit Twilight franchise as well as successful motion pictures like Sweeney Todd and The Mortal Instruments:  City of Bones. However, it would do the band a disservice to suggest that Bower’s fame created Counterfeit. The band has been DIY from day one. With a couple of UK and European tours, as well as festival appearances already under their belts, it was simply about time for a full length album. And, what a debut.

The opening track, Washed Out packs a hell of a punch. With growling, angry vocals not dissimilar to those of the pioneering Frank Carter of Gallows fame, Bower launches into a two and a half minute assault on the senses that takes no prisoners. With lyrics ‘too old to live, too young to die’, Counterfeit epitomise the London Punk Revival that has been seething underground over the last few years.

The album is authentic, something that can be sadly lacking in so many records these days. With overproduction and auto tune running rampant in the industry, it’s refreshing to know there are still bands doing it right, and doing it well. Close to Your Chest was released earlier this year as a single, and gave a glimpse into the psyche of Counterfeit. The chorus is catchy, the verses are angsty, and it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser when Counterfeit embarks on an ambitious 28 Date European tour later this month and through most of April.

A theme running through the album is one of time. In addition to those in Washed Out, ‘too old to love and too young to care’ in Romeo further explores the feelings of displacement of the late 80’s to early noughties generation.

Above all, Together We Are Stronger is a journey of self-discovery and reflection. The lyrics may be written for and by Counterfeit, but they are about all of us. You Can’t Rely channels us all, we’ve all felt alone or betrayed or rejected. You Can’t Rely feels a little more angsty than many other tracks on the album, but it earns its place.

At the risk of running through this record track-by-track, Lost Everything is a wonderfully weird mix of styles, with a balladesque chorus, disjointed verses and a great bridge that throws you off the rhythm of the song and into Bower’s softer, isolated vocals.

The record rounds off with a song that feels, at first listen, rather out of place. Letters to the Lost has a backstory. Written after the tragic passing of Bower’s friend, it is a poignant tribute highlighting the stigma around male suicide and mental health issues. The raw emotion and frustration bursting through the relatively muted acoustic accompaniment will leave the listener burnt out but hungry for more.

I give this album 4/5. Catch Counterfeit on tour across the UK and Europe this Spring

@Counterfeitrock

 

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Post Oscars: Reflection and Analysis

Staying up to watch the Oscars has always kinda been a thing for me. Last year, I spent the day sleeping to try and counter-act the staying up all night thing, but it sent my sleep pattern totally wacko. So this time, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to push through the whole thing, go to work the next day (where I am currently) and then just get an early night. In theory, it checks out. It still might check out, if I can keep myself awake until maybe 10 or 11 tonight. But I did not consider the hell that would be a full working day on the half hour nap I had between 5.30 and 6.00AM this morning.

Overall: The Oscars 2017 were a bit… same-ish. I usually love them, all the pomp and ceremony, and the genuine and legitimate industry recognition. Just because Hollywood’s A-list are all super privileged, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a pat on the back for a job well done. BUT this year felt more like a superficial circle-jerk than ever before. The speeches were bland, the smiles panning across the crowd were vacant, and the preening on the red carpet was pretty nauseating.

Usually, usually the award ceremony makes up for it. Jimmy Kimmel did a pretty great job and I loved his ‘Trump’ bit, poking fun at the President is always a good time. And candy from the sky? Yes please. But the awards were predictable, with La La Land winning 6 of its 14 nominated categories. Deserved? Maybe. Predictable? Absolutely.

When the winner for Best Picture was finally, finally named as La La Land, I was not outraged, or happy, or surprised. If anything I was at least relieved that it was over and I could grab some shut-eye. Watching the La La Land crew give their speeches I felt pretty glad for them, but then. That upset. That mistake. That key moment which made the Oscars temporarily relevant again. It’s not a stretch to suggest that this was done on purpose. It wouldn’t be the first publicity stunt, and it certainly shines a great big spotlight on the Oscars attempt at erasing the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag from last year.

Did Moonlight deserve to win? Yep, along with most of the Best Picture nominations this year. Did the La La Land mix-up steal Moonlight’s thunder? 100%. Because, take a look at the way this fiasco is being reported. Lots of photos and videos and GIFs of the La La Land crew giving their speeches and then handing the Oscars back, lots of commentary on how graceful La La Land were… and practically no actual coverage of Moonlight’s win and acceptance. Doesn’t that say something? I think it does, but it’s not something I’m qualified to comment on.

Overall Opinions:

Best Picture: Moonlight. This could potentially be viewed as an upset, but it wasn’t really a surprise. Although La La Land was the obvious choice, both Moonlight and Fences had a reasonable shot. I’m glad it went to Moonlight.

Best Director: Damien Chazelle. As deserving as any on the list. I would have given it to Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge despite not being all that fond of him, but it wasn’t going to happen. Even the nomination is a huge step back into Hollywood for him.

Best Actor: Casey Affleck. Predictable, but he had an easy role (a man who lives in the shadow of his more successful brother? Here’s looking at you, Ben). Washington or Garfield would have been a more deserving choice.

Best Actress: Emma Stone- Fully deserved, but mostly because her competition was pretty weak.

Disappointing Oscar Predictions 2017

Whilst the Golden Globes do not necessarily predict the winners at the Oscars, I believe this year that they are a bland but accurate model. Here I present my predictions and my ‘never gunna happen but wouldn’t it be nice’ dream Oscar wins, right after. You can decide whether I’ve got it right on either of these.

The Nominees for Best Picture are…

Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester By the Sea
Moonlight

Predicted Winner: La La Land. Because La La Land is winning everything, isn’t it? Record-breaking nominations for both the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, and it cleaned up pretty well in both. Hollywood is a self-indulgent mess at times, and this dreamy piece of nostalgia was always going to be a favourite.

Dream Winner: Moonlight. Because Moonlight is a challenging and necessary look into one of the most marginalised groups in the USA. It did win a Globe for Best Picture- Drama though, so I guess this wish isn’t completely out of the question.

The Nominees for Best Cinematography are…

Arrival
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Silence

Predicted Winner: Moonlight. Moonlight is a genuinely beautiful film, and manages to remain cinematically spectacular despite the gritty subject matter. And besides, La La Land can’t win everything.

Dream Winner: Silence. It’s not quite fair to suggest Silence couldn’t win in this category, maybe the Academy is trying to make up for the obvious and unjust snub at the Globes. Cinematically this film is wonderful, but at the same time it would be difficult to not shoot a beautiful film when it’s shot in a beautiful part of the world. I honestly just want Silence to win because this is the only nomination it received.

The Nominees for Best Supporting Actor are…

Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester By the Sea)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

Predicted Winner: Dev Patel. Dev Patel deserves to win. I’m not sure why he was pushed for supporting actor when I’d have probably put him in for best actor, but I suppose he has a better shot here. Patel did an incredible job telling the emotive story of Saroo.

Dream Winner: Dev Patel. This is one of those rare moments where I believe my predicted winner will also be the one I genuinely want to win, for the reasons already stated.

The Nominees for Best Supporting Actress are…

Viola Davis (Fences)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Michelle Williams (Manchester By the Sea)

Predicted Winner: Michelle Williams. If Casey Affleck doesn’t win Best Actor then I am sure that Michelle Williams will win supporting for her role in Manchester By the Sea.

Dream Winner: Viola Davis. Davis has lost out on a win a few times before, but Hidden Figures is a genuine film with popular appeal, and Viola Davis contribution to the narrative should not be overlooked… again.

The Nominees for Best Actor Are…

Casey Affleck (Manchester By the Sea)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Denzel Washington (Fences)

Predicted Winner: Casey Affleck. Manchester By The Sea is a masterpiece, and Casey Affleck did an astounding job at showing what a versatile and well-honed actor he is. I believe Affleck will win the Oscar due to the popularity and critical success this film has achieved.

Dream Winner: Andrew Garfield. I think Hacksaw Ridge was one of the best films I’ve ever seen. So good, in fact, that I saw it in cinemas five times. Garfield’s portrayal of Desmond Doss was likeable, inspiring, and most importantly relatable. You didn’t have to be religious to identify with this character, and that is the lynch-pin on which Hacksaw’s success rests upon.

The Nominees for Best Actress are…

Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Predicted Winner: Emma Stone. Where I do not think Gosling will win Best Actor for La La Land, I think The Oscars will follow in the footsteps of the Globes and the BAFTAs in recognising Stone’s incredible performance in this film.

Dream Winner: Emma Stone. La La Land was not my favourite film of the year, but Stone deserves recognition for her performance specifically.

The Nominees for Best Director are…

Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By the Sea)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

Predicted Winner: Damien Chazelle. La La Land has cleaned up at every award ceremony so far, and a film is nothing if not it’s director. If La La Land deserves to win Best Picture then Chazelle deserves to win Best Director.

Dream Winner: Controversy abounds in Mel Gibson’s personal and public life, but it’s time to accept people can be good at their jobs even if they have terrible personal flaws. Gibson has been shunned by Hollywood for a long time, but with Hacksaw Ridge he’s once again proven he’s a talented director with a knack for popularising difficult stories.

The Nominees for Best Score are…

Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers

Predicted Winner: La La Land. This is a no-brainer, as La La Land is being held up as some musical masterpiece that is totally unique. It’s not, but I think it will win for Best Score.

Dream Winner: There aren’t really any strong choices nominated. I would go with Moonlight from this list.

The Nominees for Best Song are…

Audition (La La Land)
Can’t Stop the Feeling! (Trolls)
City of Stars (La La Land)
The Empty Chair (Jim: The James Foley Story)
How Far I’ll Go (Moana)

Predicted Winner: Audition. La La Land’s runaway musical success makes Audition an obvious choice for winner in this category. I loved Stone’s performance but don’t think the song is particularly noteworthy.

Dream Winner: How far I’ll Go. Animated films don’t have a massive history of doing well with the Academy outside of the Animated Film category. Moana was a wonderful film with an incredible score and a great message. How Far I’ll Go is a great song enjoyed by all ages, but it won’t win. Unlike Let It Go from Frozen, Moana is up against a darling-of-Hollywood award winner, so it doesn’t stand a chance this time.

The Nominees for Best Sound Editing are…

Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully

Predicted Winner: There’s a good chance La La Land will clean up here, too.

Dream Winner: Silence wasn’t nominated for Best Sound Editing, and that is honestly a tragedy. So I guess I’ll go with Hacksaw Ridge for all the gory horror war sounds that perfectly contrast with the weirdly uplifting ‘Doss saves the world’ scores.

The Nominees for Best Sound Mixing are…

Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours

Predicted Winner: La La Land again. I think anything to do with sound is going to go to La La Land because of the so-called musical genius of it.

Dream Winner: Again, I dispute that Silence is not on the list or this. The perfect contrast between periods of intense silence and intense violence contribute a great deal to the harrowing experience that is this film.

The Nominees for Best Production Design are…

Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land
Passengers

Predicted Winner: La La Land. This film was pretty well designed, with some genuinely beautiful scenes. I would be surprised if it didn’t pick up this Oscar purely because most of its contenders are weak.

Dream Winner: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I feel this picture has been left out of the Academy this year. I’m not sure whether that’s because it arrived a little too early to make a huge impact on the award circuit, but it was a great, family friendly film with beautiful cinematography and special effects.

The Nominees for Best Original Screenplay are…

 

Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester By the Sea
20th Century Women

 

Predicted Winner: Manchester By The Sea. I see why La La Land is slated to pick this one up, but I do not find it all that original in the organic sense. It’s a boy-meets-girl, fluffy flick, which is great, but not ground-breaking or challenging in the way Manchester by the Sea is.

Dream Winner: The Lobster. It’s honestly just nice to see this little weirdo getting nominated, but it’s as deserving of Best Original Screenplay as any of the other nominations. I mean, it’s certainly original…

 

The Nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay are…

Arrival
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonlight

Predicted Winner: Fences. I haven’t predicted many wins for Fences, but the screenplay was well produced and authentic.

Dream Winner: Lion. Having read the book the screenplay is based on, I can say this is one of the best book-to-film adaptations I’ve seen in a long while. It remains true to its roots and handles the content with sensitivity and respect.

The Nominees for Best Animated Feature are…

Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life As a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia

Predicted Winner: Moana. This is another case where my genuine prediction and my dream winner line up. Moana was a masterpiece, a film aimed at children and families that resonated with adults, too.

Dream Winner: Moana. Children’s films that are popular with adults don’t come around often, especially animated ones, but when they do they are a roaring success. Take Frozen, for example. A deserved win all around.

The Nominees for Best Film Editing are…

Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight

The Nominees for Best Visual Effects are…

Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Predicted Winner: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Any Star Wars film receives unprecedented hype and critical attention, and Rogue One’s Visual Effects are top-notch. I believe the cleverly edited additions of characters from A New Hope will tip this film into the winning spot.

Dream Winner: The Jungle Book. I actually had to think really  hard about these two. My predicted and dream winners are, I think, probably interchangeable. The Jungle Book didn’t do all that well, but the visual effects are spectacular.

The Nominees for Best makeup and Hairstyling are…

A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad

Predicted Winner: Suicide Squad. This film was an utter shambles, and I genuinely feel bad for all the talented actors who put really strong performances to such a weak script. BUT having said that, it was beautiful to look at, and the makeup, especially on The Joker, Harley Quinn and The Enchantress was a masterpiece.

Dream Winner: Star Trek Beyond. I’m biased because I saw this film in 4DX but it was incredible. Anything Sci-Fi where there’s a huge range of species intermingling on a constant and organic basis requires immense amounts of makeup and hairstyling, and this most recent Star Trek franchise does this seamlessly.

 

 

 

Does the Academy’s Silence on Scorsese reflects the death of Intellectualism in Hollywood?

Looks like someone forgot to invite Silence to the party this year. After a complete lack of nominations at the Golden Globes, I had high hopes that Silence would gain a few nominations for the Oscars; notably Best Director for Martin Scorsese and Best Supporting Actor for Andrew Garfield. Whilst Andrew Garfield enjoys some much deserved recognition for the visceral masterpiece that is Hacksaw Ridge during this year’s award season, his role as Jesuit Priest Rodrigues is equally, if not more deserving of a nomination.

Silence is the culmination of over two decades of work for Scorsese, and offers and unflinching and often challenging insight into the religious and political conflict in Japan in the 17th Century. Many critics have suggested that the lack of recognition and disappointing box office performance of the film are caused by the overtly religious message throughout. I would agree, were it not for the comparative success of Hacksaw Ridge. Whilst set in a different time, the two stories bear some striking similarities. Both are about men of faith persisting with the courage of their convictions and belief in the face of extreme adversity. Both are set in Japan. Both convey overtly religious messages throughout, and yet one has received academy recognition and one has not.

A more likely reason for the snub on Silence is that the Academy is not interested in taking risks of any kind. Films like La La Land, a pretty love letter ‘to Hollywood, from Hollywood,’ were always destined to do well. That it would pick up quite so many Globes is something I hadn’t predicted, but it did not surprise me.

Scorsese’s Silence is a punishing watch. It offers no happy ending, nor arguably an ending at all. You do not end the film feeling uplifted and hopeful, as with Hacksaw Ridge. I believe films that are willing to go ‘off-formula’ are often the most rewarding in the long term, and this is true of Silence. I Have seen all the nominations for Best Picture, and maintain that Silence deserves a place amongst them.

My ‘Disappointing Oscar Prediction’s’ Piece will be up soon…

Critical response to the critical response to X-men: Apocalypse

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I can distinctly remember the very first time I picked up a comic book. It was September, 2007, and I was thirteen years old. For some, this may be considered a little on the late side, but it wasn’t the DC/Marvel hoards that prompted my first visit to the Limited Edition Comics stall in the local indoor market. It was Gerard Way’s Dark Horse ‘Umbrella Academy’ series. Although that series ended in 2013, my love for comic books was born out of my love for Way and his band, My Chemical Romance, so I’m grateful to him and to that series for giving me a passion I have carried with me into adulthood.

Once I’d accustomed myself to the reading style of comic books, the instalments of Umbrella Academy weren’t enough to satisfy me. I went back to that comic book stall and picked up the first comic book with a name I recognised. The X-men. With its many variations and storylines spanning decades, there was no shortage of material, and I fell in love.

This backstory (my origin story, if you will) may seem irrelevant, and largely it is. But I chalk my love of comics up to the wealth of brightly coloured, good vs evil narrative I was exposed to through 1980-1990s X-men. These are themes I identified with most prominently when I went to see X-men: Apocalypse last night. I was blown away, and I didn’t even see it in 3D. (although I’m going to see it in 4DX over the weekend.) Some films are just MADE for 3D, and the action shots in this one are a clear example of that.

I was so in love with it- the colours, the nostalgia, the nods to the core fan base. If it is to be director Brian Singer’s swan song, it’s a fitting tribute to his unique reboot of the franchise, and adequately paves the way for the new, younger cast to take over the characters.

Reading other reviews from so-called critics, I couldn’t help but fear there was a little palm-greasing from The Disney Machine. (Disclaimer: that’s an opinion and not in any way factual, please don’t sue me, corporate lawyer men) Most of the things the critics are dissing Apocalypse for, like predictable story lines and a fairly 2D villain, are pretty standard Marvel Superhero Movie traits, but Civil War and Avengers: Age of Ultron are held above this criticism, apparently.

Not to mention the key fact here- films are for fans, not for critics. Just as we can’t expect film critics to know the complexities of a multi-platform franchise for EVERY film they see, we shouldn’t ignore the complexities of a franchise with THIS much backstory. Apocalypse has given us back some beloved characters that have been woefully neglected in the X-Men franchise of recent years. It’s making X-Men fresh again and bringing in new audiences whilst being meta enough to continue pleasing diehard fans. If I were a PROFESSIONAL CRITIC I’d give it 8/10, but I’m not so I’ll just say this; the critical response to X-Men: Apocalypse has been surprising and, frankly, unjustified. If you liked X-Men: Days of Future Past- go see this film. If you don’t like X-Men and don’t WANT to like X-Men, maybe give it a miss and stick to the predictability of the Disney Machine’s Marvel Movies. At least then you’re guaranteed the story tropes and characterisation you know and are (apparently not) tired of.

Radiohead -A Moon Shaped Pool

4/5

Yesterday, Radiohead released their 9th LP through online streaming services (excluding Spotify, so we’ll all have to work a bit harder to get ahold of it until the physical release for now). Moments after release the reviews began pouring in, as both small and larger mags and critics scrambled over each other to get their piece out ahead of the curve. In my experience, and this is an experience shared by many, Radiohead are never to be judged wholly by the first listen of an album. Songs that seem to simply blend into one another at first contain many layers, and with each new listen through the ear will pick up on a melody here or a clever lyric there that was missed at first. With this in mind I provide a disclaimer to this review: My opinions are likely to change, and I may well post an updated review in 6 weeks after I’ve inevitably had the album on repeat in the office as the soundtrack to my day for a month or so.

Tuning in to the BBC 6 listening party, I couldn’t help feeling a bubble of excitement and the vague sense of belonging that comes from being part of a moment you know will be remembered in your personal history, if not in musical history as a whole. This was one such moment, as the album was introduced as a ‘worldwide listening party’ and Burn The Witch, the single released earlier this week and first track on ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ wriggled its way through my anticipation and the inevitable hype and began to sink in, properly. Where the music video drew some of my concentration away from the sound, I could now focus, a focus that is always heightened when listening with a view to review. My university-honed analytical skills were activated, and I began to appreciate Burn The Witch as a comment on society rather than just another vaguely unsettling track from a vaguely unsettling band.

I won’t go through the album track by track; Radiohead albums work best as complete pieces. You wouldn’t review a book chapter by chapter (unless it’s a book of short stories, but that doesn’t apply here). Radiohead should be played continuously as a stream of consciousness. Throughout, Radiohead maintain their well-honed knack for creating a hypnotic waking dream which makes you feel like the protagonist of a drama that probably ends in a horrific car-crash after an extended driving-through-the-rain-at-night-to-the-sound-of-Daydreaming sequence. It makes you feel uncomfortable and out-of-sorts no matter where you are; which is particularly disjointing when sitting in a brightly-lit office listening through headphones whilst the rest of the world goes on around you.

In some parts, A Moon Shaped Pool sounds like a teenager experimenting with the various novelty buttons on an electric keyboard, but they layer sounds with such technical brilliance that it would be sacrilege to accuse them of not knowing exactly what they are doing. The album is full of lilts and lulls, growing in richness and volume, stripping itself back to almost nothing but vocals and a base line, and then layering instruments so seamlessly you don’t realise you’re riding the waves until the track trails off and into the next. It would be very easy to accidentally listen to 4 or 4 songs continuously without being able to discern where one ends and another begins, which for an album of this magnitude is perfectly reasonable.

The creative choice to end the album with a remastered version of ‘True Love Waits’ is an interesting one. Whilst the new version has received mostly positive reactions, I am left unimpressed. There are many, arguably much better versions of the song floating around the Web if you know where to look, especially some well-recorded live versions that do much more with the bare bones of the original song than this one. Perhaps it’s a way for Radiohead to remind us all that they are a Big Deal, or maybe they’re feeling nostalgic. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a good album, an interesting experiment and a testament to Radiohead’s fearless commitment to creativity. Love them or hate them, at least they’re not producing the nondescript indie-rock that is saturating the market.

Counterfeit- Electric Ballroom 23.04.16

Blood. Sweat. Tears. Ok, so the blood was down to inappropriate footwear and the tears were mostly a reaction to all the sweat in my eyes, but still.

For those in the know, Counterfeit are the new(ish) kids on the block tearing the European rock scene a new one. For those not in the know, they’re still tearing new ones across the continent, so go check em out on one of their remaining dates.

I’ve been a fan for a couple of years, seeing the band through  some lineup shuffles and a rebirth from The Darling Buds to Counterfeit. So I decided to go with the whole package- the VIP experience. For an extra couple of quid the band will do your laundry, homework and drive you home after the show (disclaimer: this might not be 100% true). But no, I got to enter the venue an hour or so early, meet the band (selfies and signings) and then roam the venue aimlessly waiting for the bar to open.

First up were Monarks, a British four-piece who had, as first support, the toughest job of the night. Electric Ballroom are notorious for having early stage times with early curfews, I guess because the place doubles up as a club even on gig nights, so no crowd is likely to be 9pm enthusiastic (or 9pm drunk) at 7. Monarks smashed it though, setting the tone for the whole night and converting hundreds of people to their particular brand of good ‘n’ heavy rock ‘n’ roll. (I wanted to get a picture for this article but I was stuck behind some very tall people).

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Next came Bellevue Days. This is the kind of band really cool, edgy people listen to, so you should listen to them if you want to sound cool and edgy as you stand in a bar in Soho and talk about all the best new music on the scene. They kind of made me feel like I was at a Dave Matthews Band arena show- probably because they’re destined to be playing arenas in the not-too-distant future. They’ve balanced the serious stuff with the ‘we’re real people too’ stuff, with anecdotally clever songs like ‘Ripped Jeans’ that make you smile when they start off but have you kinda singing along by the end.

I squeezed my way a little further into the crowd as Bellevue Days left the stage, feeling the crowd tighten and thicken in anticipation for the main event. Counterfeit are loud and brash and very in-your-face, so I wasn’t expecting them to take to the stage quietly. The stage was bathed in purple light as Prince’s Purple Rain was played prior to the band’s taking the stage. It was a touching, fitting tribute, felt and experienced in a powerful way by everyone present.

It’s rare I go to a gig and don’t document the details for writing-up later. I can’t help it, the aspiring music journalist in my HAS TO DO IT. So it’s a real testament to Counterfeit’s performance that i have but two blurry pictures and vague memories of my favourite songs being played. Maybe I shouldn’t have waited two days to do the write-up, either, but my ears have only just stopped ringing.

Jamie Campbell Bower is a name you may have heard already, he’s done some acting and stuff, but don’t hold it against him- he is one of the most energetic and charismatic front-men I have ever seen. Unafraid to jump into the crowd with reckless abandon, ambitiously climbing railings to rally the crowd into a tumultuous frenzy- he is a hazardous ball of pure energy.

A key moment, and one I’m sure will remain in the minds of everyone present, was the performance of Letter to the Lost. Jamie came down into the crowd, guitar and all, and after the mad crush of hysterical fans desperate to get a closer look at their idol, they settled down, forming a loose circle around him, whilst he explained the meaning behind the song. After losing a close friend to suicide, he wrote Letter to the Lost, and began volunteering for CALM, the Campaign Against Living Miserably, which aims to help prevent male suicide. The emotion of the song was tangible, in the raw vocals and gritty guitar somewhere between a ballad and a lament.

Counterfeit ripped through their most-loved hits, Come Get Some, Hold Fire and Family Suicide- reminding the crowd of their criminally short EP (hint, hint). But we were also treated to some ‘Live-Only’ exclusives; Addiction, For the Thrill Of It and the catchily named ‘Untitled'(side note: you may think that’s a work in progress but these guys don’t play by the rules, so we may be stuck with it). They exited the stage to screams, pleas, maybe even some threats, and it was clear they couldn’t wait the mandatory 5 minutes or so before regaling us with an encore. Launching back onto the stage long enough to grab a mic on his way through, frontman Jamie leaped into the crowd to deal the killing-blow to the crowd in the form of their latest single, and show closer, ‘Enough’.

This is a gig that will go down, in the minds of many, as the moment Counterfeit really made us pay attention. There were moshpits, circle pits, crowd-surfing and a lot of jumping. I entered the crowd feeling nervous and excited- excited to see Counterfeit live and nervous that they couldn’t live up to their hype. I left baptised into a new family- drenched in the sweat of the strangers around me, (normal) and missing both my shoes (not normal).

TL;DR- Counterfeit is more than a band- it’s an experience, and you can’t really ‘review’ it in terms of setlists and ticket sales. You gotta get yourself down to a show, and judging by the reception in London, they’ll HAVE to be back out on the road pretty soon.

 

 

 

New Acts Announced for Reading and Leeds 2016

I haven’t been that excited for the Reading and Leeds lineup this year. Other than maybe Fallout Boy, there hasn’t been a ‘shut up and take my money’ band announcement.

… Until now. The announcement this weekend of:

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
Sleeping with Sirens
Asking Alexandria
Fearless Vampire Killers
Creeper
Citizen
Dillinger Escape Plan
Wakrat
Kvelertak
Dead!

Has absolutely, 100% made me U-turn on my decision not to go.

I mean, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes are seriously hot on the scene right now, despite the marmitey love-hate relationship I’ve had with Frank Carter over the years. Sleeping with Sirens crept up on me; I heard ‘King For a Day’ a few years ago and didn’t love it, but bought With Ears to See and Eyes to Hear’ on a whim and it’s now made it’s way onto several of my playlists, so I’m excited to finally see them live.

I won’t comment on how I feel about Asking Alexandria. Maybe in another, rantier post.

Fearless Vampire Killers are a band I saw play, and lose, a battle of the bands competition in my local youth centre about a hundred years ago. They were good sports about losing the battle despite being the best band, and I gained a lot of respect for them after interviewing them here on the site. I love bands who love music, and see it as a calling or a passion rather than a way to make money and get super famous. Fearless Vampire Killers are that band. They got to where they are through hard graft and sheer willpower, as well as through one of the most dedicated fan-bases I’ve ever encountered. Seriously, if you’re friends with one of them on Facebook, you’ll know what I’m talking about. *cough* Facebook Invites *cough*.

Creeper. Creeper, man. They work so, so  hard at what they do. Their music is a little something different, not new but a reboot of the horror-punky vintage goodness from before I was born. Creeper is a band that make you feel really cool when you listen to them, and that’s something I am always interested in.

The last band I’m really, really, interested in is Dead!. I’m a little late to the party on this one, having seen them opening up for Counterfeit in December 2015 at the O2 Academy Islington. I got to the show late, deciding to ‘skip the support bands’ and work a bit later. Luckily traffic was non-existent and I couldn’t be bothered to do anything fancy with my hair, because I got there just as Dead were taking to the stage.

I’ve been looking for a band to have a bit of a love affair with in a desperate attempt to recreate the experiences I had when I first fell in love with music. That was another band in another lifetime, and I might make a post about it one day if I’m feeling nostalgic enough. (I definitely will because I love talking about the good ol’ days like an actual elderly person) Dead! tick all the boxes for me. They sound good, look good, and have that DIY attitude that is so sorely lacking in a lot of younger bands. They don’t expect anything to be handed to them and they aren’t doing it for the payouts and the freebies. They’re doing it because they love the music, and they make you love it to. I’d probably go so far as to say they’re the act that made my decision to go to R&L2016.

Paying Respects- Lemmy

lemmy-vodka.pngThere are some events so devastating that they’ll remain in your memory forever. Events so monumental and significant that you can remember the day, time and what you were doing when you heard the news.

The death of Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister is one such event. I can tell you where I was on the 29th December at 00.51 am. Surfing through Facebook whilst simultaneously hunting for the sandman. I stopped scrolling and just STARED at my feed, where one clued-in Facebook friend had broken the news. What followed were several hours of feeling numb, a sense of disbelief, checking source after source to confirm the legitimacy of the announcement. After all, many fake death rumours have gone around regarding celebrities, and Lemmy was supposed to be immortal.

When I woke up at 9am that same morning, the internet was in mourning. My Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr feeds were full of an outpouring of grief rarely seen. Friends I had no idea were Motorhead fans were paying their respects, expressing their sadness and celebrating Lemmy’s remarkable life.

In the following days, Lemmy’s friends and admirers both famous and not posted touching tributes in the form of blogs, tweets and status’s. Notably, the following from both Lemmy’s friends and those he inspired:

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 00.10.42Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 00.10.51Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 00.11.14

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The sheer magnitude of tributes from rock and roll legends, as well as the thousands of messages from fans and friends overwhelmed the internet. And the tributes continue even now, with Slash playing Ace of Spades on New Years Eve to an emotionally-charged crowd.

The culmination of this public outpouring of grief will come on January 9th, when a memorial service will be held from 2-2 at the Rainbow Bar & Grill in West Hollywood. Everyone is welcome to attend.

 

 

 

Download Festival Announcement

Download_2016_3rd

On the Daniel P. Carter Radio 1 Rock Show, Download announced 33 new bands for the 2016 festival lineup in real time. It was a tense show, with prospective fans abuzz on Twitter with speculations and dream announcements. The announcement won’t please everyone, but we think it’s pretty rad:

Joining headliners Rammstein, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden at the 2016 Donington Park bash with day splits are the newly-announced…

Friday 10 June:

The Amity AfflictionCounting DaysGutterdämmerungHavokKillswitch EngageSkilletTwin AtlanticFort Hope.

Saturday 11 June:

Architects, AtreyuBeartoothBlack Foxxes, Dead!DownMilk TeethNeck DeepRival SonsSkindredTesseracT, Lawnmower Deth.

Sunday 12 June:

AttilaBilly TalentBreaking BenjaminDelainDon BrocoFrank Carter & The RattlesnakesGhostGojira, HalestormHo99o9SaxonShinedownTremonti.

Along with the previous announcement of Korn, Deftones, Nightwish, Disturbed, Motörhead and Megadeth, there’s something for everyone.

Download 2016 is going to take this legendary fest to a whole new level!