Continuing to look back at some of my favourite albums released earlier this year, this time I’ll take a look at the month of February. A month where everything seemed normal, it was the calm before the storm, as the full impact of COVID-19 lurked around the corner. Donald Trump was being impeached, Parasite won Best Picture at the Oscars, Storm Denis hit the UK, and the world was still in self-destruct mode. But alas, there was new music. This month saw the return of The Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne, Tame Impala coming back after five years, and a blisttering second album from Liverpudlian band Loathe, not to mention new albums from The Amity Affliction, Grimes, Green Day, and King Krule, just to name a few.
Like many, I’ve been following the news of the shocking and appaling murder of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, by police in Minneapolis, USA. The consequential outrage of his killing has not only sparked protests there, but spread to other cities in the United States too and across the world, with demostrations in Auckland, Berlin, London, and more. George Floyd’s death, and the circumstances surrounding it, is one of many examples of police brutality and racism towards the black community in America. As things began to boil up over the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and Breanna Taylor in Louisevill, and the consequent investigation (or the lack of), things have now boiled over to the point where enough is enough, and things need to change. The worldwide response shows that this sort of racist behaviour isn’t just succluded to America, the insututional day-to-day injustices and the things we don’t see, are happening all over.
The current situation with COVID-19 has left the world in lockdown, with venues closed and tours cancelled or postponed, a lot of artists have been forced to find new and innovative ways to stay connected wth their fans, such as live streaming performances from their home, going back through the archives and releasing footage of previous shows, or hosting Q&A’s and listening parties. Like many, I’ve had the extra time on my hands to watch a lot of these performances, and found it interesting to see the various ways in which bands and artists are approaching these difficult times.
The annual Brit Awards takes over The O2, London next Wednesday 20th February, and here’s my lowdown on who’s been nominated and for what, who’s due to be performing on the night, and a look into some of the artists to watch out for, with my pick for each award.
As the rain began to fall, Monarchy took to the South Beach stage, and in-front of a sizeable crowd put on an incredible performance. They weaved in and out of new and old tracks, whilst covering the likes of Nirvana and Outkast, even producing a mosh pit in the crowd at one point. Despite slightly clashing with similar sounding band Pet Shop Boys and the rain persistently falling, the crowd grew and grew, getting more into the set as it went on. Here’s a few shots and a short video of the show:
Now in its third year Mad Cool Festival has already delivered some stunning line-ups, with the likes of The Who, The Prodigy, Foo Fighters and Green Day all featuring in past editions of the Madrid-based festival. This year was perhaps one of the most stacked line-ups to date, not only in the small history of the festival, but also compared to other festivals around Europe. Spanning across seven different stages this years edition featured some amazing acts, from Tame Impala and Arctic Monkeys, to Depeche Mode and Pearl Jam. But where most of the attention was drawn to the headline acts, and I guess understandably so, this year also featured a bunch of fantastic up-and-coming bands too. Both local and international artists took to the two smaller stages, called the ‘Mondo Sonoro Stage’ and the ‘Thunder Bitch Stage’, and it was here where I had the pleasure of discovering these five new (to me) bands.
Since 2008, National Public Radio have hosted an online live music series called ‘Tiny Desk Concerts’. Featuring artists from all genres, the show has starred musicians such as Chance The Rapper, Sampha and Cigarettes After Sex, to name a few. The format continues to routinely deliver, allowing artists to perform a few of their favourite tracks in an intimate office enviroment. After watching Jorja Smith‘s mesmerising performance in her latest Tiny Desk Concert, I decided to pick out five of my favourite sets from recent months.
Kanye West & Kid Cudi – Kids See Ghosts
Whatever your opinion of Kanye West is, you can’t deny that he has made some great music. The enigmatic figure, love him or hate him, loathe his manipulation of the media and outspoken personality, his relationship with Kim Kardashian, he’s an artist who has consistently released good music, whilst pushing boundaries and often changing perspectives. On ‘Kids See Ghosts’ he is joined by long-term collaborator Kid Cudi, who like Kanye is returning to music after battling depression.
I saw these guys whilst at All Points East festival in London last weekend and fell in love with them straight away. Their infectous grooves are undeniably influenced by the great Bee Gees and electronic duo Daft Punk, who they have recently worked with on their single ‘Overnight’. Originaly from Byron Bay in Australia, they’re now based in Berlin.
A little over two years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Rag’n’Bone Man at The Joiners in Southampton. He was touring his latest EP, ‘Disfigured’, and was preparing for another sold out show.
As I walked to the venue I remember being very nervous, it was my first ever face-to-face interview and I was unsure what to expect. The interview time was arranged a few hours before the opening of the doors, so my first task was to figure out how to get in… After a few trial and errors I found a fire escape round the back and to the side, this was my opening. Rory and his team were in a meeting, discussing various subjects about the night ahead. After an awkward hello and a brief explanation of what the hell I was doing there, it was established that an interview had been scheduled… Rory abruptly came over with a beaming smile and introduced himself. All the nerves and built up tension that I had been feeling slowly eased away, as we entered into deep conversations about his roots in the hip-hop scene in Brighton with Rum Committee, attending open mics at Slipjam B and forming friendships with local MCs and DJs. Speaking fondly of his time in Brighton, he explained how he quickly became embedded in the hip-hop community.