shelleyhanveywriter

'Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences'

Posts Tagged ‘Hurts

Pnau’s new album ‘Soft Universe’ is sure to set electro hearts and minds on fire @pnau

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Pnau (pronounced “pah-now”, to rhyme with meow) is an Australian synthpop duo, consisting of musicians Nick Littlemore and Peter Mayes.  The duo have enjoyed considerable success in their native country: with award-winning debut album ‘Sambanova’, critically-acclaimed – and top of Elton John’s personal record collection – 2008 release ‘Pnau’ and one of my favourite electropop outfits; breakthrough side-project Empire of the Sun. Indeed, such is Elton’s love for the duo; after hearing ‘Pnau’, he swiftly arranged for them to become his new musical apprentices. A couple of years later and the euphoric delight that is fourth album, ‘Soft Universe’, has finally come to fruition.

I have selected my top 5 of the 10 tracks on offer, kicking off with ‘Epic Fail.

 

This is probably my favourite track from the album and the most in keeping with Empire of the Sun ‘s sound; sure to set electro hearts and minds on fire when the record is released in the UK in early 2012.

Next up, ‘Everybody.’

 

This track was the perfect choice to kick off ‘Soft Universe’; Littlemore is also a Cirque du Soleil musical director, a fact not all that surprising when you hear the rousing synth guitar riffs and souring melodies on this track.

And so, on to ‘The Truth.’

 

Widely regarded to be one of, if not the strongest track on the record, ‘The Truth’ was released in early 2011 as the first single in Australia. I’d describe the track as ‘Solar System rock’; it wouldn’t sound out of place as the backdrop to one of these very quirky, very dumbed down Science documentary series. I use ‘dumbed down’ in an entirely first-person narrative context – it may look pretty and it may be fronted by a quasi-cool man with an indie haircut…but I still don’t get it.

Next up, ‘Something Special.’

 

This track is just pure electronic bliss; if you like Hurts, you’ll love this. If the album does well in early 2012, we might be treated to some UK festival appearances; if so, this would be a great feel-good show opener.

And finally, ‘Waiting For You.’ This is a serene love song, complete with intoxicating vocals and a melody that can’t help but get in to your head and play on repeat.

 

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂

www.pnaupnau.com / www.twitter.com/pnau / www.myspace.com/pnau

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

December 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm

2011 UK Music Festivals; what constitutes a headline-worthy artist?

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I think we’ve pretty much seen the majority of what the UK Music Festival scene has in store for us this year, but I’ve had cause to wonder; what constitutes a headline-worthy artist? Are record sales the main criterion; perhaps international or tabloid appeal, or could it be something else?

It has always been my opinion that those festivals which consistently perform well with ticket sales, are those which have a clear brand identity and generally, a niche market; Leeds and Reading Festivals, Cambridge Folk Festival, Glastonbury and T In The Park being prime examples. I suppose it isn’t  rocket science really – if you cater to a specific section of the gig-going public, provide the artists and bands that  they want to see, at a price they can afford, how can you go wrong? But so many appear to do just that. Looking at some of the festival line-ups for 2011, I’ve felt largely underwhelmed and uninspired, with only a select few pricking my curiosity to find out more. Admittedly, music tastes are subjective and entirely personal to the ticket-holder, but when the ‘big five’ (V Festival, Glastonbury, Leeds Festival, Reading Festival and T In The Park) music festivals in the UK are charging relatively similar weekend prices, how can a couple of them defend their line-ups against their peers?

Of course, a music festival is about much more than just the music; the location has to be just right, as well as: accessibility, on-site facilities, entertainment, catering, toilets, general crowd atmosphere and the list goes on. Can a perfect ten in all of these criteria however, really make up for a poor line-up? Is a great festival weekend about who you’re with, not where you are; would you trade six good medium-stage acts for one great main stage act?

The UK Festival Awards 2010 announced the following winners late last year:

Best Small Festival in association with Doodson Entertainment – Kendal Calling

Best Medium Festival in association with Smirnoff Flavours – Green Man Festival

Best Major Festival in association with Tuborg – Bestival (see photo above)

Line-Up of the Year in association with XL Video – Rockness

Bestival is a boutique music festival, which takes place at Robin Hill on the Isle of Wight. The four-day spectacular which promises to inspire ‘peace, love and dancing’, is curated by BBC Radio 1 DJ, Rob Da Bank. This year, the festival takes place on the 8th – 11th September 2011 and is set across 15 stages, offering the likes of The Cure, Pendulum, Primal Scream, Kelis, Robyn, PJ Harvey, Noah and the Whale, The Unthanks and Groove Armada. It would be fair to say that the line-up is a mix of folk fusion and boutique chic and the festival site promises ‘an original boutique camping experience, cocktail bars, fancy dress and a hidden disco.’ I think the fact that the festival has always promoted itself as being particularly family friendly hasn’t hurt; children enjoy music too, it isn’t all about the beer tokens people! To find out more about Bestival, please visit the link below.

Green Man Festival takes place on the 19th-21st August 2011 (the same weekend as V Festival, but tailored to an entirely different audience) in the Brecon Beacons. The festival is aimed specifically at the folk and electronic indie- loving public and again, is very welcoming to families with children of all ages; indeed, under 12s get in free. Highlights on the line-up this year include: Fleet Foxes, The Low Anthem, Bellowhead, Explosions In The Sky, The Burns Unit and Villagers. I think that I would enjoy this particular festival; I love folk and electronic music and I love a beautiful scenic environment in which to camp and lounge. To find out more about Green Man Festival, please visit the link below.

Kendal Calling takes place on the 29th-31st July 2011 in Lowther Deer Park in the Lake District. This is an independent festival, combining contemporary music and art with rural entertainment. I think it would be a fair assumption to say that this festival largely caters to a somewhat younger demographic than the former two; particularly with regards to the line-up, which this year includes: The Cribs, Blondie, Chase and Status, Echo and the Bunnymen, Levellers and Young Knives.  The festival also offers dance, comedy and new music stages. For more information on Kendal Calling…you know what to do.

Out of the ‘big five’ headlining acts this year, my favourite would have to be Glastonbury (22nd-26th June 2011): Coldplay, U2 and Beyonce. The brilliance of these choices lies in the fact that there will probably be something for everyone here. The acts are diverse enough to attract wider audiences, yet remain true to what a great headliner should be – an act that commands your attention, whether that be by dividing the audience right down the middle or uniting everyone with one memorable anthem that will go on to sum up the entire weekend.

Taking in to account the line-up in its entirety however, I would have to opt for Latitude Festival as my favourite(14th-17th July 2011). The mix of folk, electronica, comedy, poetry and the spoken word could have been tailored specifically with me in mind. I would pay to see the majority of the acts on the billing, including: The National, Bombay Bicycle Club, Caribou, The Duke and the King, Foals, Hurts, KT Tunstall and Rumer , as well as the fantastic stand-ups on offer including Alan Carr and Omad Djalili . Plus it also takes place on my birthday weekend!

Whichever UK festival you choose to visit this year, I wish you good weather and great memories 🙂

www.festivalawards.com / http://www.vfestival.com/ / http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/ / http://www.latitudefestival.co.uk/ / http://www.leedsfestival.com/ / http://www.readingfestival.com/ / http://www.tinthepark.com/ / http://www.greenman.net/ / http://www.bestival.net/ / http://kendalcalling.co.uk/ http://www.rockness.co.uk/

New tracks I like from: Sea of Bees, Hurts, Katy Perry and Ladytron

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It’s somewhat of a pop-fest this week with my favourite chosen tracks; perhaps I’m still high on the sweet fumes of The Brits and Grammys. Saying that, I have to admit that I very much enjoyed the latter more than the former this year; I just don’t enjoy watching a man perform whilst covered in fake blood and surrounded by even faker scenes of violence and Police brutality…call me old-fashioned! I always prefer the more diverse and often slightly bizarre events that unfold stateside at the annual ceremony, organised by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. I’m honestly not intending to be unpatriotic here and I am very much in support of British musical talent, I just didn’t think that this year, apart from a few notable exceptions (Adele‘s performance, Laura Marling‘s win) was as memorable as others.

Moving on however; the first of my chosen four tracks this week, is Sea of Bees, ‘Wizbot.’ Julie Ann Baenziger (or Sea of Bees) released her debut album this month, entitled ‘Songs for the Ravens‘ on Heavenly Recordings. Even the name evokes a feeling of mystery and otherworldliness, which combined with Baenziger’s spine-tingling and at times awkwardly eerie vocals, is a surefire recipe for indie chart success. I find this artist very mesmerizing; I found it very difficult to take my eyes away from the screen whilst watching the video for this track, every contortion and expression seemed to send a million mixed messages. I think she would be fascinating to watch live, so I hope to see some dates released soon.

I have been a big fan of Hurts since their first single and subsequent debut album ‘Happiness, so the recent release of album trackSundaywas of great delight to me; not least because it also happens to be my favourite from the record. Closely followed byStayI have to add; to be fair though, I can’t really fault any of the tracks from this band to date. This song is classic ’80s electropop for those of us who missed it the first time round and I for one, am eternally grateful for the re-run. 

Now, I have a confession to make…I haven’t always been a huge fan of Katy Perry‘s music. I found ‘I Kissed A Girl‘ rather obvious and just trying that little bit too hard, consequently, also trying my patience; however, with the release of her second album ‘Teenage Dream‘ my opinion completely changed. I love this album and never tire of singing along to each sun-drenched and sassy single or potential; Max Martin and Dr Luke working their producing magic yet again on this one. Every track could be a chart-topping contender and I don’t think we’ve heard the best this has to offer yet. ‘E.T’ is every bit as hypnotising and magnetising as the lyrics convey and I expect to see a trademark seductive screen offering courtesy of Perry when this track is released shortly.

Ladytron are much admired and imitated by our electro-loving musical friends in the U.S; often cited as a major influence to the work of, amongst others, Christina Aguilera and Nine Inch Nails. ‘Ace of Hz‘ is taken from their upcoming album ‘Ladytron 00 – 10‘ and showcases precisely what they do best. A great introduction to the synthpop quartet for anyone who enjoys more than a dash of psychedelia sprinkled atop their electropop.  

That’s all for now 🙂

Christmas releases from Coldplay, Hurts, Bananarama and George Michael

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I was only thinking last week that you don’t often hear of artists writing Christmas songs anymore. With a few notable exceptions of course; The Darkness however being the only one that immediately springs to mind, back in 2003. Perhaps it is more the case that you only get to hear the really decent ones over the airwaves, whilst the others get shelved or never really get started. How delighted was I therefore, when I heard that no less than four major artists planned to release Christmas-themed tracks for the 2010 festive season: Coldplay, Hurts, Bananarama and George Michael, to be precise.

Even if their quest to secure the No 1 slot fails miserably when pitted against the X Factor machine, at least we shall have four new credible numbers to add to the track listing of future compilations such as ‘Now 958: The Best of the Best  Christmas Songs Ever, Totally, In The Whole World .’ I really like these four and they all have theirown individual strengths and reason to appeal to the masses; Hurts are riding high at the moment in the popularity stakes with their cool and classy brand of electro-pop and Coldplay have come back from the amazing success of ‘Viva la Vida‘ with a classically penned track, bearing all the usual hallmarks of their art such as a soaring middle section, heartfelt lyrics and seamless orchestration. ’80s IT Girls, Bananarama, have also thrown their musical hat in to the ring with their first ever Christmas-themed release; and very impressive it is too. Finally, after what seems like an age of controversy, George Michael returns with a beautifully written piece which he performed on last year’s X Factor…before all of the other stuff started. His songwriting brilliance cannot be denied and this track cannot help but melt even the frostiest of yuletide hearts.

If I had to pick a favourite, I would probably opt for Coldplay, but I am still keeping everything crossed for a Christmas Cliff release; no one does it better than Sir Cliff.

Coldplay, ‘Christmas Lights

I can’t embed the video for the Hurts single due to copyright, so please find link above.

Hurts, ‘All I Want For Christmas Is New Year’s Day

Bananarama, ‘Baby It’s Christmas

George Michael, ‘December Song 2010: I Dreamed Of Christmas

Which is your favourite? 🙂

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

December 7, 2010 at 4:36 pm

New tracks I like: Robert Francis, Florence, Johnny & Laura, Hurts

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New tracks that I am loving this week  come from artists including:  Robert Francis, Florence & The Machine, Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling and Hurts.

Florence & the Machine, ‘Heavy In Your Arms’.

This chillingly cool track is taken from the soundtrack to the second ‘Twilight’ feature film installment,  ‘Eclipse. ‘ The track is released as a single on November 15th, 2010 and is sure to set the charts, as well as lovelorn teen hearts everywhere, alight in its dark intensity and just short of  taboo leanings. This is what Florence and her Machine do best, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that  the band are going from strength to strength in America at the moment; with a guest appearance this week on Saturday Night Live. Selfishly so, I just hope that the band don’t get too comfortable over there in their state of adulation and forget where they came from. I can’t see this happening, after all; who appreciates and does brooding and sullen better than the Brits?

Robert Francis, ‘Junebug‘.

Robert Francis is relatively new to the rock singer-songwriter scene in the UK; just about to hit our shores with a couple of live dates in London. ‘Junebug’ is taken from his second album and debut major label record‘Before Nightfall’ which is set for release in the UK on November 29th, 2010. Francis has been compared to Bruce Springsteen; high praise indeed, which I do think is justified when you hear this artist’s vocal skills. Francis’s debut album was the indie release‘One By One’, which at the age of 22 showcases some striking musical moments and a perfect take on classic American rock. Francis has been touring the US with my favourite band of the moment, Noah and the Whale and is about to embark on a series of live dates in the UK and Europe later in the year. If this stand-out track is anything to go by, both the album and the shows are going to be pretty memorable.

Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling, ‘The Water’.

I can’t adequately put in to words my love for both this track and the album from which it was taken. That album being Johnny Flynn’s ‘Been Listening.’ I am a huge fan of both artists, so a duet between nu-folk favourites Johnny and Laura was always going to sit extremely well and comfortably with me. It is a sublime track with some truly special vocal moments courtesy of Laura; I can only dream of a future collaboration between Johnny, Laura and Charlie Fink…hmm, may be waiting a while for that, methinks.

Hurts, ‘Stay’.

One of my favourite bands to emerge in 2010 would have to be Hurts. I think their album ‘Happiness’ is brilliant and I genuinely rate each and every track. After seeing the band perform live a couple of weeks ago, they just go from strength to strength for me and this latest single release also happens to be my favourite track from the album. A simple, yet classically ’80s synthpop sound; I could listen to this epic track on repeat for hours. After selling out their short UK tour in October, the band has just announced a Spring 2011 UK tour; I would definitely recommend that you pop by one night if you’re free. Hutchcraft is a wonder on stage, everything that a showman should be and much more besides.

That’s all folks, 🙂

Hurts at The Ritz, Manchester 5.10.10 – review

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My review of Hurts at The Ritz, Manchester is now up on eGigs:

http://www.egigs.co.uk/index.php?a=13614

It was a great show; perhaps a little short for my liking, but with only one body of work to perform, I guess it was fair. I look forward to a much longer show in the future with undoubtedly more amazing electro-pop sounds. I think you’ll enjoy Kylie’s Live Lounge cover of ‘Wonderful Life’ too; see link below:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/sessions/2010-09-29_kylieminogue#p00b9wk5

For more information on the band, please go to:

www.informationhurts.com

 www.myspace.com/ithurts

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

October 8, 2010 at 11:28 am

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Hurts, ‘Happiness’ – album review

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Can I really be up to track 10 of 11 and I haven’t skipped once? Wow.

Those of you who have read anything I have written before, will know that my favourite decade for music is the ’80s; the glam outfits, the melodramatic synthpop sounds and the epic electro ballads have always been particularly close to my heart. Imagine my delight therefore, to discover a new band with just such an image and just such tracks, who hail from that great of northern cities, Manchester.

Hurts are singer, Theo Hutchcraft and synth player, Adam Anderson. Finishing fourth on the BBC Sound of 2010 poll, the band released their debut single ‘Better Than Love’ in early 2010, which was followed up recently by their debut album ‘Happiness.’

The eleven-track record is broadly categorised as Synthpop, Electronic and New Wave; however the overall feel is not one of a revival, rather something fresh and exciting; something that bit greater which is built on present-standing greatness. Kicking off with ‘Silver Lining’ and we are given an ample  taste of both the synthetic and vocal wonder that Hurts have to offer. Synthpop as a sub-genre has seen a resurgence, particularly in the UK, in the late 2000s and early 2010, but I don’t feel that the market has become saturated just yet; finding the majority of artists around at the moment rather enjoyable.

Next up is current single ‘Wonderful Life’ and it is at this point that I can imagine the band standing tall alongside the likes of Human League and Heaven 17; Hutchcraft’s tone not being dissimilar to that of Heaven 17 front man Glenn Gregory. Track 3 ‘Blood, Tears and Gold’ is a sweeping electropop ballad, which fans of One Republic or The Killers’ third album ‘Day & Age’ might particularly enjoy. Likewise for ‘Sunday’ and ‘Stay’; the first being an upbeat, majestic number that will have the electro kids dancing wildly in their wet-look leather, whilst the second sees a host of suit-clad, gelled-back gentleman swaying along in the crowd, wiping away a tear as they reminisce about lost love.

‘Evelyn’ takes you on a fantastical journey through fairytale forests and fires, as Hutchcraft pleads with his heroine not to desert him on their quest, as he rides every emotion; fear, anxiety and desire. Kylie Minogue makes an appearance on the record on track 9, ‘Devotion.’ I really like this track and it is classic Kylie; Hutchcraft’s deep and impassioned vocals complementing Kylie’s atmospheric trance-like tone perfectly. Take a listen and see what you think: 

The album concludes with a mood-infused melody entitled ‘The Water’ which speaks about fearing being too close; to the water, to a certain someone, to your own mortality perhaps. It’s not as morose as it sounds I promise and is a fitting end to a whirlwind and a revelation of an album quite frankly. I had dared to fear that I would never get the chance to see a band as good as those around in the ’80s perform my favourite synthesized sounds, but I have been proved wrong it seems with Hurts.

Overall, I would give this album a 9/10 and say that I look forward to the live show!

Upcoming tour dates:

October

Saturday 2nd – Concorde, Brighton

Sunday 3rd – Cockpit, Leeds

Monday 4th – Oran Mor, Glasgow

Tuesday 5th – Ritz, Manchester

Thursday 7th – The Library, Birmingham

Friday 8th – Trinity Church, Bristol

Saturday 9th – O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London.

For more information on the band please visit: www.informationhurts.com and www.myspace.com/ithurts

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

September 10, 2010 at 3:00 pm

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