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Posts Tagged ‘Pop/Rock

Friends of Mine Festival 2011 – review now up on eFestivals

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The first ever Friends of Mine Festival took place last weekend, at Capesthorne Hall in Macclesfield, Cheshire.

With a line-up of artists ranging from Badly Drawn Boy, The Cribs, The Charlatans, The Fall, Buzzcocks and Black Lips; the weekend promised to deliver a good mix of new music, fresh talent and a few vintage indie favourites.

I was on reviewing duties for eFestivals and you can read my full review here:

For photos, taken by my friend Zoe Lawson, please visit here:

Thank you,

shelleyhanveywriter ūüôā


New tracks I like: KT Tunstall, Marina, Enrique and The Script

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There are some great tracks due for release in the coming weeks; I have listened to several and picked my favourites of the bunch:

KT Tunstall ‚Äė(Still A) Weirdo‚Äô (released September 20th, 2010)

This mellow and quirky track is taken from Tunstall’s new album ‘Tiger Suit’, which is set for release on September 27th, 2010. 2004’s ‘Eye to the Telescope’ which was a worldwide success, was one of my favourite albums of that year and I still listen to it regularly now. Tracks such as ‘Other Side of the World’, ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’ and ‘Suddenly I See’¬†never seem to age¬†and I find¬†something different that I like in the lyrics with each¬†airing. ¬†I wondered when Tunstall¬†would be back¬†with her trademark acoustic guitar and insightful takes on subjects such as romance, family history and…still being a weirdo! I look forward to the new album and to seeing Tunstall live in the coming months.

Marina and the Diamonds ‚ÄėShampain‚Äô (released September 27th, 2010)

The unusually spelt ‘Shampain’ is taken from Marina’s debut album ‘The Family Jewels.’ The album and artist have soared in popularity this year with other hits such as¬†‘Hollywood’, and my personal favourite, debut single¬†‘I Am Not a Robot.’ I love a strong, funkily dressed, eccentric female lead so unsurprisingly, I also love this album. Comparisons have been made with Florence Welch, predominantly due to their equally striking vocal instruments but I think Marina’s strength lies in her new wave/pop-fused songwriting skills and I like a track I can dance to which you could with Florence, but may end up either giving yourself a hernia or looking like you’ve taken too many Night Nurse tablets.

Enrique Iglesias ft Nicole Scherzinger ‚ÄėHeartbeat‚Äô (released September 27th)

Oh Enrique, Enrique, Enrique, Enrique, where dost I begin? This track is taken from his¬†latest album,¬†July 2010’s ‘Euphoria.’ I have been a fan of Enrique for many years and I stand loud and proud with that admission. I love his tracks; the ballads, the up-tempo numbers, the crazy dance floor¬†dittys, I simply love them all. Yes I’ll admit it, it doesn’t hurt that he looks like a god of men either, but I am sure that my love truly lies in the music…I’m sure…I think…

The Script ‘For The First Time’ (released September 5th, 2010)

This is the first single from the Irish pop-rock trio’s second album ‘Science and Faith’, set for release on September 13th, 2010. If I’m honest I wasn’t particularly a fan of this band with their first self-titled album, only liking one of the singles that they released from the record which was ‘The Man Who Can’t Be Moved.’ I just felt like they weren’t entirely sure what their niche was, with some tracks falling in to the R&B category, some in to the Pop-Rock category and others being a mish-mash of the two; I felt very confused. I’m all for diversity and I like seeing different elements of a band’s talents on a record, but it felt like they were just as confused as I was. I really like this track though; could it perhaps be because it’s taken from an album which focuses on the current economic and social climate in Ireland? I think it just might!


Written by shelleyhanveywriter

August 19, 2010 at 1:32 pm

2010 Barclaycard Mercury Prize shortlist; hooray for Folk!

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2010 Barclaycard Mercury Prize – shortlist announced today (July 20th, 2010)

Well the Mercury Prize shortlist has been announced today and I am delighted to see 3 folk artists/bands in the line-up; those being Laura Marling’s ‘I Speak Because I Can’, Villagers’ ‘Becoming¬†a Jackal’ and Mumford & Sons’ ‘Sigh No More.’ The full list is below:

Biffy Clyro, ‘Only Revolutions’

I Am Kloot, ‘Sky At Night’

Dizzee Rascal, ‘Tongue N’ Cheek’

Paul Weller, ‘Wake Up the Nation’

Corinne Bailey Rae, ‘The Sea’

The xx, ‘xx’

Villagers, ‘Becoming a Jackal’

Kit Downes Trio, ‘Golden’

Foals, ‘Total Life Forever’

Laura Marling ‘I Speak Because I Can’

Wild Beasts, ‘Two Dancers’

Mumford & Sons, ‘Sigh No More’

With a talent for poetry and lyricism far beyond her tender 20 years; Laura Marling is well respected in both folk and wider contemporary circles. This, her second album, was released in March 2010 and peaked at number 4 in the Official UK Chart and number 1 on the iTunes UK Chart. The album has produced two singles thus far; those being ‘Goodbye England (Covered in Snow) and ‘Devil’s Spoke.’ These just happen to also be two of my favourite tracks from a genuinely striking and sublime record.

Villagers are an Irish indie-folk band, hailing from Malahide in Dublin. This, their debut album, was released in May 2010 and immediately topped the Irish Albums Chart and the Irish Indie Albums Chart. Lead singer Conor J. O’Brien is widely respected and lauded for his songwriting, musicality and influence amongst his peers. O’Brien’s music has been described as drawing inspiration from dark imagery and by romanticising the mundane aspects of life. Definitely a wordsmith to note for the future.

I think most people will have heard of Mumford & Sons at this point; regardless of whether they happen to be a fan of folk music. This, their debut studio album, was released in October 2009, peaking at number 6 in the Official UK Charts in July 2010. The album has since been certified Platinum in the UK and has produced the following hit singles, ‘Little Lion Man’, ‘Winter Winds’, ‘The Cave’ and ‘Roll Away Your Stone.’ Continuously sold out shows confirm the band’s popularity both at home and abroad. I would be surprised if this band weren’t judged to be in the top 3 of those shortlisted; but then again, I fear other factors come in to play with these commercial prize-giving ceremonies; I still haven’t got over Lisa Hannigan not walking away with the award for ‘Sea Sew’ last year.

Still, us folk fans can dream and hope, hope and dream; I think these three are worthy winners but would like to have also seen Richard Hawley’s ‘Truelove’s Gutter’¬†and Noah and the Whale’s ‘The First Days of Spring’ nominated. But, you can’t have everything.

Michelle Branch and my undying love for Buffy

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When I¬†think back to 2001, I can’t say that any particularly memorable events occurred; having graduated the previous year, I was working in a temporary capacity for a government department in a nearby, again, largely uneventful town. But I do remember there being a certain weekly highlight to my social calendar…the airing of a brand new episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

Before the days of RPattz¬†et al, my sister and I would make ourselves comfortable; before settling down to the wit and wisdom of Joss Whedon’s finest example of a foray in to fantasy television drama. The exploits of Buffy, Willow and Spike kept us hooked for the full 43 minutes, with an unbeatable mix of cutting comebacks and comedy capers; from the early days of¬† high school horror in ‘The Harvest’ and ‘Halloween’, through to the sacrifice and sophistication of¬†‘Becoming’and ‘Graduation’, the groundbreaking ‘Hush’ and ‘Restless’ concluding with a clever, 360-degree emotional climax in ‘Chosen.’ For all those who may choose to cast doubt, I simply say this; Buffy was highly influential back then, as well as today; it brought us strong feisty females that didn’t need protecting,¬†became the blueprint for future supernatural televised dramas and the show just never ages, a testament to the quality of the scriptwriting.

There was one particular element of the show which I also looked forward to; the live music/guest star performances in The Bronze. It was here that I discovered the vocal talents and songwriting triumphs of Michelle Branch.

Born on July 2nd,1983 Michelle is an American singer-songwriter, who has experimented with pop-rock, acoustic and country sounds; always managing to sound authentic and real. I put this down to her approachable and down to earth demeanour, combined with her earthy and effortless tone. Michelle’s debut album ‘The Spirit Room’ was released in the UK in 2001 and had three hit singles; ‘Everywhere’, ‘All You Wanted’ and ‘Goodbye to You.’ It was the third of which that she performed on Buffy episode ‘Tabula Rasa.’ (See clip below).

Michelle received her first guitar aged fourteen and after teaching herself, she wrote her first song. Realising her talent, her parents financed her first independent album ‘Broken Bracelet.’ Performing gigs in her native Sedona, Arizona; Michelle covered the likes of Sheryl Crow, Jewel and Fleetwood Mac, all of which she has consistently cited as influences on her music. Another of my favourite Michelle tracks is ‘The Game of Love’, which is a collaboration with Santana. This has a great deep southern summertime feel to it and the mutual love of strings is clearly evident.

2003 saw the release of Michelle’s second album ‘Hotel Paper’; this record wasn’t as well received as her debut, which has always been somewhat of a mystery to me. The pop-rock and country influences are still there, the catchy lyrics and addictive melodies are still there; so why the mixed reviews? 2003 saw a bit of an influx of American look-a-like, sound-a-likes with Vanessa Carlton and Stacey Orrico to name but two, but likewise, when did too much of a good thing become a problem?!

For all you Sex And The City fans out there, you will be familiar with Michelle’s track ‘Breathe’ from a certain episode entitled ‘The Catch’ in Season 6, were Carrie is tasked with¬†trying¬†out¬†a flying trapeze in Central Park and she realises that ‘letting go’ is¬†not¬†so scary¬†as long as you have a good safety net, namely your friends.

After recording and performing with longtime friend and backup singer Jessica Harp as The Wreckers, Michelle has now started writing for her third studio album which will be titled ‘Everything Comes and Goes.’ I’ve been waiting for news of a UK tour since 2001…maybe just maybe, 2011¬†will be¬†the year! The first single from the album,‘Sooner or Later’, was released digitally in 2009 and I’ve included a clip below to give you a taste of what’s surely to come.

You might like to check out her recent collaboration with Timbaland too; this track ‘Getaway’ is available to download now from iTunes.

Hopefully you’ve found a couple of pieces that you like on here; or perhaps a renewed passion for the original vampire-fighting, splintery-tongued¬†Sarah Michelle Gellar? I’ll finish with another of my most memorable live performances from the show, this time coming from Angie Hart with ‘Blue.’ This was featured during ‘Conversations With Dead People’¬†from Season Seven and was actually written for that particular episode at Whedon’s¬†request. This video was produced by hauntboo at YouTube, so credit where it’s due on this one.

Grrr! Argh!

Glastonbury coverage on the BBC

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Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival

¬†I wasn’t one of the 177,500 festival folk that descended upon Pilton, Somerset last weekend, to witness the 40th Anniversary of the Glastonbury Festival,¬†having opted to attend V, Cambridge Folk Festival and Creamfields. I did, however, very excitedly set the Sky Plus in order to record the BBC’s coverage of the four-day event.¬†

I have to say though, I found myself quite underwhelmed by said coverage and wondering where the clips of perhaps slightly less commercial acts had¬†ended up…if indeed they were ever recorded.¬†

I fully understand that musical tastes are subjective to the viewer and that the BBC would have had a flood of complaints had they not featured the headliners and some of the bigger chart-residing artists, but being a contemporary arts festival; I just felt that the range of artists featured should have reflected that. 

I was looking forward to seeing a good range of artists, including new and fresh  offerings such as Everything Everything, Frightened Rabbit, Two Door Cinema Club, Devendra Banhart, Miike Snow, Lauren Pritchard as well as a few of my favourites; The Courteeners, Empire of the Sun and Laura Marling. 

Empire of the Sun

Everything Everything

Miike Snow

I also thought considering Florence and the Machine drew one of the biggest crowds of the festival, perhaps a couple of songs could have been featured from this artist; obviously reflecting their popularity at the festival and beyond. To be fair, extended highlights of Florence’s set are available on the BBC’s Glastonbury website, which can be found here:¬† 

Again, a personal viewpoint only, but did we really need to see 7+ songs from Muse and likewise, Gorillaz? Would it not have been fairer to spread the coverage out a bit and give viewers more of a diverse taste of what was on offer…just a thought.¬†

It did look brilliant though and they were so lucky with the weather; I’m already crossing my fingers that V and Cambridge are blessed with the same! Although a couple of clouds would be nice, don’t want to be struck down with a bout of sunstroke, causing me to miss Macca¬†join Fray (Liam, of The Courteeners) on stage for an impromptu sesh of Beatles classics…you never know!

Christina Aguilera, ‘Bionic’ – album review

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Christina Aguilera, ‘Bionic’

This week saw the UK release of Christina Aguilera’s fourth English studio album, ‘Bionic.’¬† It’s been a wait of four years, but with a 23-strong track listing, I don’t think anyone could say she doesn’t deliver; after all, if something’s worth having, it’s worth waiting for.

I’ve been a fan of Christina since the early days of ‘Genie in a Bottle’ and ‘What a Girl Wants’, right through to the ‘Dirrrty’¬†dance floor numbers and the ‘Hurt’ . I consider her to be the best female vocalist of her generation, as well as an accomplished and multi-skilled songwriter.


Recently hailed by Rolling Stone¬†as number fifty-three on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, Christina¬†was featured as the youngest and only artist on the list under the age of thirty. My sister and I went to see¬†her perform live in 2003 and I would have to say that her vocals were the only ones to rival another performer I have seen and that is Celine Dion…Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield, 1999, with support from Mike and the Mechanics, not a dry eye in the house…and that was in no way related to the increased awareness and consequent upsurge of glaucoma in the late ’90s (I was undoubtedly the youngest concert-goer there, aged 20). What can I say, I’ve always had an old head on young shoulders; which probably looks slightly strange…

Christina said prior to the release of the album, that she had been experimenting with a futuristic, electro-pop sound and that fans should expect something totally different; I would have to agree with this preview, as ‘Bionic’ features certain tracks that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with those hits that have gone before, but for me this is what I look forward to with a new record. There’s something to be said for “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” but then when would we get a chance to hear an artist diversify and show what they can really do? Christina’s past albums have fused R&B with Jazz, Pop with Rock, so I don’t think her musicality or range will ever truly be in question.

Christina works with Australian singer-songwriter Sia Furler and her collaborator/bassist Samuel Dixon on four songs for the album, and these for me are the stand out tracks. A couple are vintage Christina with intimate melodies, atmospheric keyboards and emotive vocals (‘All I Need’ and You Lost Me’), with the other two, whilst being just as heartfelt and delicate, feature more subtle vocals which allow the music and emotion¬†to flow through (‘I Am’ and ‘Stronger Than Ever’.)



Christina works with Linda Perry again on this album, specifically on track ‘Lift Me Up’, which is another of my favourites. Perry wrote previous hit single ‘Hurt’ which I’ve included a link to above; I think the melody and vocals on this track are amazing, what I wouldn’t give to be able to sing like that! I really like Perry’s lyrics, she knows her audience and seems to deliver every time with all the emotion, regret and angst that we all secretly lap up.

Christina is a big fan of British electronic band Ladytron and asked them to work with her on this project and produce some songs. ‘Birds of Prey’ features on the second CD and the synthpop template is clearly evident from the outset. It would be fair to say that this record draws on numerous influences and experiments with various genres, indeed with most of Christina’s albums they feel more like a showcase than simply a thrown-together collection of same-old, same-old stuff.

For R&B and Dance fans there are also the up-tempo numbers ‘Bionic’ and ‘Not Myself Tonight’ and ‘Woohoo’, which provide those essential beats to kick-start your Friday night…or Monday morning, depending how wild you are. I love cheeky Christina who toys with the taboo, but a couple of the tracks were disposable in my opinion and didn’t need to be there, such as ‘Sex for Breakfast’ and ‘Vanity’, it can sometimes feel forced I think.

Overall, I would give ‘Bionic’¬†a 7.5 out of 10 which is mainly on the strength of the Sia Furler and Linda Perry tracks. Definitely an album I will listen to again and enjoy, pre wild night out or wild night in.

shelleyhanveywriter ūüôā

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

June 11, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Richard Hawley, ‘Truelove’s Gutter’

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I’ve been listening to the soothing sounds of Richard Hawley’s latest album today, ‘Truelove’s Gutter.’

Hawley, for me, is in the same league as such sublime singer-songwriters as Elvis Costello and Badly Drawn Boy. They each possess a vocal quality which has the ability to keep you rooted to the spot, not wanting to miss a single note as the cares of the day are slowly washed away.

The most recognisable track on the album would be ‘Open Up Your Door’ , which; like so many other great melodies these days, is featured on a tv advertisement. I also really like ‘Remorse Code’ and ‘Soldier On.’ I saw Hawley on the Justin Lee Collins show a couple of months ago and he came across as a top gent; polite, unassuming and devoid of bravado.

He is such a talented songwriter, I find his lyrics breathtaking; almost like he’s recalling personal experiences and reading straight from his own diary. Not a limerick put to a melody in sight.

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

June 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm

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