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The five best albums of 2013 (that you’ve probably never heard of…) | Review | Music

In something of a departure from the norm for TIE, allow us to present five great albums from last year which you’ve might have missed, compiled by guest poster Jordan Thomas. Agree? Disagree? Confused? Leave a comment below.

Five albums from 2013 you might have missedTonight Alive - Tonight Alive – The Other Side (Sony Music)

Tonight Alive’s first album was a decent pop punk album in a world filled with samey pop-punk bands, this second album however raises them far above the rank and file. While it doesn’t exactly break the mould for the genre it does show exactly how it should be done. The underwhelming cover art aside, this album is stunning; every song is catchy and immediate, with grounded lyrics you can actually relate to and  massive, clear sound production (not to mention Jenna’s fine vocal performance). With Paramore having moved onto new grounds these should be your go to guys for your pop-punk fix.

Check out: Lonely Girl

Katatonia - Dethroned and UncrownedKatatonia – Dethroned and Uncrowned (Kscope)

Dead End Kings was one of the best metal releases of 2012, so how did the band think they could top this? The answer as it happens was to take that same album, strip it of all guitars, aggression and metal and use it to craft a haunting semi acoustic masterpiece. All of the songs work surprisingly well, with the biggest difference being Buildings, with heavy thumping piano replacing the crashing guitar of the original. While the original record was gloomy, this is a whole different league, the songs are slow and dripping with melancholy. it is not a happy record by any stretch, but it is a beautiful one, one which deserves repeated listens to hear all it has to offer.

Check Out: The Racing Heart

Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused to SingSteven Wilson – The Raven that Refused to Sing (and Other Stories) (Kscope)

From his humble beginnings making tapes of supposed forgotten bands to his current status as one of the most revered men in music; Wilson has always been making excellent boundary pushing prog rock. Building on the jazz influences of his last solo outing this album pushes his sound even further away from that of his other works. Extended jazz solos (courtesy of the excellent Theo Travis) are frequent, and though his heavier side is still there it’s more in the background, with gentle melodies being allowed more of a front row. Like Katatonia, it is not an album to cheer you up, but it is one to close your eyes and listen to in mellow bliss.

Check out: Drive Home

Deafhaven - SunbatherDeafheaven – Sunbather (Deathwish)

Take the dreaminess and distorted melodies of shoegaze, and slam it together with the pummelling heaviness of black metal and you get Sunbather. The resulting album is not always an easy listen, but is a worthwhile one. BM screams and drumming are the main meat of the sound, but there’s nearly always melody from the guitars, and slower instrumental parts and spoken word help to break it up into a more manageable listen. Since the album’s release, it has gone almost mainstream, bringing with it the usual hype and backlash, but regardless of whether it is really as important a release as some claim, it is undeniably an excellent one.

Check out: Dream House

Pet Shop Boys - ElectricPet Shop Boys – Electric (x2)

I haven’t really kept up with the animal themed store boys lately, my knowledge spans pretty much their heyday period and drops off when they did. However this one seemed positively met so I decided to give it a go. Boy, am I glad I did. It’s obviously PSB, but manages to sound very modern as well. More bass heavy than a lot of their famous stuff, with a strong dance feel running through the album it’s an exhilarating listen, Bolshy and Love Is… are probably the most recognisable stuff on offer, with the interesting additions of pseudo dubstep (Shouting…) and a surprisingly decent piece featuring Example (Thursday) giving the album a nice bit of variation. Whether you be a fan of pop, dance or just the PSB this is an album you should consider.

Check Out: Love is a Bourgeois Construct

Jordan Thomas

Music: Reading Festival 2011 – 10 Things You Should Have Seen

With weather reports dominating the festival coverage this week, it’s easy to think it’s always the same old story. This Is Entertainment will be bringing you a proper breakdown of the weekend in the next few days (hopefully) but in the meantime for those of you who were there, and are now nursing hangovers or on your third shower of the day, see if you spotted these Top Ten “Did you see…?” Moments:

1) Back in time

Guest appearances at festivals might not be the oldest trick in the book but they are sure to get people talking. This year saw both Queen’s Brian May and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones take to the main stage with My Chemical Romance and Seasick Steve respectively.

2) Exit to the city

Upon leaving the arena this year you may have noticed it had a more ‘people traffic’ vibe than usual, that’s thanks to some fancy LED screens which show which side of the entrance/exit is the side to head for. It meant the general crowd-crush factor was reduced this year.

3) I predict a riot

When something as significant as the riots happens, everyone is talking about it, and the rock ‘n’ roll kings of the age were keen to have their say too. Preachy speeches were rife all weekend, but Rise Against win the prize for tying it in best, following their talk with a cover of ‘White Riot’ by original punk-rockers The Clash.

4) Keep it like a secret

Speaking of Rise Against, the hardcore rock group sneaked onto the BBC introducing stage on Friday to spring a surprise set on the crowd. The weekend’s usual double play went to Frank Turner, who played the Main and Lock Up Stages on Sunday.

5) Speed of sound

With the weather working against vocal harmony all weekend, it’s no surprise the Main Stage suffered. Friday was worst affected, with vocals severely lacking for several bands throughout the say, and often guitars being somewhat muted as well, even when close to the front. Luckily, things were sorted out by the following day.

6) Animals

The sights and sounds of Reading Festival, the campsite in particular, are always a strange thing to behold, but this year there was an epidemic…of tigers. Wherever you looked there was people dressed up in all-in-one suits of various animals, but tigers proved the most popular. Unfortunately they weren’t as much fun as a group dressed as The Smurfs who started a technicolour Fight Club on Saturday night while waiting for Jarvis Cocker and co to take to the stage.

7) Caught in the mosh

The ‘celebrity’ sightings weren’t confined to the crowds though, at one point one individual dressed as Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear, could be seen thrashing around in the mosh pit. Not content with wearing a Buzz Lightyear costume, he also had multicoloured long platted hair – talk about attention seeking! The crowd went wild though, leading to chants of “Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!” by the end of the set.

8 ) Devil on my shoulder

Crowd participation isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but many bands this year didn’t give onlookers much choice. Aside from Jared Lehto (of 30 Seconds to Mars) insisting people jump (JUMP!) every other song, there were calls by at least four bands – probably more – to see as many people on other people’s shoulders as possible. Perhaps rock-stardom gives you selective vision so you can’t pick out anyone from the masses unless they are slightly elevated to the height you are on stage…

9) Out of space

Visitors to the Radio 1 Stage this year were in for a surprise, not only has it gained an extra screen, bringing it up to the Main Stage’s total of three , but also almost doubled in size. In a move designed to baffle serial Reading-goers (or those out of it on various substances), the tent has had an extra portion sewn through the middle of it, opening out the rectangular structure of old into a fan shape.

10) Operation Ground pound

BBC Three visited the festival this year, and spent some time with Huw Stevens on the Main Stage. Though seemingly completely random, there was some a scientific basis for their visit. Apparently someone decided Reading Festival was significant enough to be classified on the earthquake Richter Scale. In order to complete the mission, the audience had to all jump simultaneously, and then boffins across the river a short distance away would read the earthquake produced. Despite everyone jumping, Reading Festival only measures 0.7 on the Richter Scale, hardly earth-shattering…but nonetheless you have to condone scientific use of rock and roll.

 

So there you have it, a full and in-depth review of everything about Reading Festival will be coming to This Is Entertainment in the next few days. For now have fun working out the bands behind all the song references used as titles in this article, each point from 1 to 10 has been released as a song name…enjoy

 

James Michael Parry

Music: Reading Festival 2010 Review

Moody rock stars, muddier teenagers and a plethora of fantastic music and comedy performers made up this year’s Reading Festival weekend.

The rain began on Thursday 26 and continued on and off through the Friday to create one of the most water-logged festivals of recent years.

Classic rock fans refused to have their spirits dampened by the rain and earnestly awaited Guns ‘n’ Roses Main Stage headlining performance on Friday evening. Unfortunately they waited far longer than anyone expected and when frontman Axl Rose waltzed on stage at 10.30pm the band were already an hour late for their advertised slot.

The heavyweight rockers, famous for hits such as ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and ‘November Rain’, had already kept fans waiting 10 years for their latest album Chinese Democracy, but once the music began the crowd’s discontent softened a little.

Despite festival management company Festival Republic allowing the band to play on for an extra half an hour, they were forced to switch of the sound system at 12.00pm to comply with Reading Borough Council’s licensing, leaving Axl mouthing along to muffled drum sounds.

Being a no-good rock and roller though Rose felt this was not the end and promptly picked up a nearby megaphone to sing along with the crowd in the most original rendition of ‘Paradise City’ in the band’s history.

Guns may have failed to capture the crowds’ imagination but across the (now sodden) grass in the Lock Up tent American pop-rockers Alkaline Trio were delivering a solid performance.

Elsewhere on the Friday Queens of the Stone Age and Lostprophets oozed energy on the Main Stage and both had the crowd singing along to their greatest hits.

Saturday brought a clash between the thumping drum and bass outfit Pendulum and the mellow radio-friendly sounds of Arcade Fire, whose latest album The Suburbs jumped to the top of the album charts last week. Both bands were well received, with the crowd chanting the haunting chorus of Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake Up’ for hours after the music had finished.

In the midst of the battle for supremacy, NOFX showed up as a secret act on the Lock Up stage to entertain the crowd with their usual jibes, even inviting Frank Turner on to join them during their 18 minute epic song ‘The Decline,’ which they performed in full. Soon after came the band that really shone through on Saturday night: Bad Religion. The group’s 30-year-old political punk sounds united old and new fans with a fantastically diverse set delivering hit after hit.

Earlier in the afternoon The Mystery Jets hypnotised the audience with songs from their latest album Serotonin and Dizzee Rascal united rock and pop fans with his bizarre range of styles, including a rendition of his own version of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ as well as his own hits ‘Bonkers’ and ‘Jus a Rascal’.

Sunday saw a departure from the usual tradition of heavy metal bands to have pop-punk kings Blink 182 closing the festival amid fans of all ages. A particular visual highlight was drummer Travis Barker’s 360 degree drum kit, which spun in all directions, leaving him upside down while he thrashed out a blistering drum solo.

Guitarist Tom Delongue fared less well as he constantly forgot lyrics and at one point got distracted when he spotted Dominic Howard, the drummer for the British rock group Muse, watching them from the side of the stage.

The Alternative Tent retained its consistently high calibre of acts this year, with Adam Bloom, Robin Ince and Russell Kane, who had only just arrived at the festival after being awarded the Edinburgh Comedy Award the previous day, all having the tent in stitches from start to finish.

Despite some typically British weather, the festival delivered a fantastic weekend of entertainment. There was some slightly over-zealous fire fighting on the final night, but generally new safety measures managed to cut down the amount of crime and dangerous gas explosions, which have tarnished the event’s reputation for years. Roll on 2011.

James Michael Parry

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Music: Reading Festival 2010 Special – Headliners


August’s arrival can mean only one thing – the countdown to Reading Festival 2010 – this year’s alternative music extravaganza has well and truly begun.

Over 100 artists from various music genres and levels of commercial success will take to the six stages over three days at what Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighter’s described as “The best festival in the world”.

Unfortunately with so many countless bands to chose from it can be difficult to choose who to see to guarantee maximum musical enjoyment (and subsequently drunkenness). So, in order to avoid potential panic, This Is Entertainment presents the the first part of the essential Reading Festival ‘Must-see’ Guide.

The big names

The reason people go to festivals is to see the big headline acts right? Perhaps…but it’s not true for everyone.

The beauty of festivals is that so many acts are available all at once, meaning you might wander aimlessly into a tent at 2pm on the Saturday to discover a band you never would have listened to otherwise. The point of this guide as a whole is to give direction to your aimless wanderings, but before all that let’s start with the basics and look at the big names.

Guns ‘n’ Roses

A band out of touch and out of its time grace the Reading Festival stage for the first time – despite appearing at Leeds in 2002, which is surprising considering the bands worldwide fame. In their heyday at the end of the 80s they were one of the world’s most intimidating rock groups, even providing a tune for Terminator 2: Judgement Day in 1991.

Now though, they are a shadow of their former self, with frontman Axl Rose recovering from a decade-long ego trip trying to piece together his magnum opus Chinese Democracy and the fighting between Axl and former band members has dragged on for decades.

Still, there is a new line up – with only Axl remaining as founding member – and fan response to their latest album wasn’t terrible, but I still can’t see them being as fun as Alkaline Trio.

Tracks to catch: Sweet Child O’ Mine, Paradise City, Shackler’s Revenge
Verdict: Miss

Arcade Fire

The radio-friendly indie band of the festival takes control on the Saturday, a theme which echoes down through the rest of the main stage, though more will be overjoyed by the resurgence of drug-fuelled Pete Doherty and The Libertines.

For Arcade Fire though the appearance couldn’t have come at a better time, with their new album The Suburbs assaulting the charts at this very moment after jumping to the number one spot after its release last week.

If you’re wondering what songs the band sing then it’s quite difficult to nail down a song you may have heard of, the style is very much that of modern hippies, a swaying, laid back sort of pop/rock, though one or two tracks might be familiar from BBC television show adverts.

Tracks to catch: Rebellion (Lies), Wake Up, Keep The Car Running
Verdict: Maybe

Blink 182

Another reformation but this time a welcome one, the nasally voiced teenage heart-break-ridden trio have returned to give us a reason to smile as the last act of the weekend.

The pedigree of the band is sketchy at best – strangely people don’t take a band seriously if they run along a road naked in their videos… – but that’s the point of Blink, they entertain first and foremost.

During their last appearance in 2003 the band made even the most tight-faced Blink-haters soften a little with their mixture of boyish banter, catchy tunes and audience participation – at one point they had the audience hold up their phones instead of lighters because “it’s the 21st Century now kids.”

With a new album nearing completion (expected early 2011), fans will be hoping to hear some new songs, and praying they are as good as they remember. It’s been a long time since their last self-titled album in 2003 and the fans are all grown up now, their spirits dampened with years of recession, war and no new pop punk heavyweights around to liven things up.

Tracks to catch: Carousel, The Rock Show, All The Small Things
Verdict: Must See

Stay tuned to This Is Entertainment for more crucial band details…

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