Showing posts with label 2013. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2013. Show all posts

Monday, 9 December 2013

'So The Echo' - Brandon Boyd

Meet Brandon Boyd. He's got to be one of the most creative people in contemporary culture. 'Incubus' was his break and his most well known creation, but stretching beyond this pioneering experimental rock band, Brandon's life-long strive to express himself appears boundless.

I'm yet to purchase a copy of his new 'coffee-table' book but it definitely looks like it's worth checking out. 'A Peek Inside' on his website demonstrates that this collection gives insight into his creative process through a combination of his art alongside lyrics, notes and almost fleeting opinion pieces from his journal. It seems a 'stream of consciousness' narrative to Brandon's inner going-ons. His art combines what seems to be an edgy political tone amongst a psychedelic backdrop, producing some rather quirky and abstract - but nonetheless thought provoking - pieces. Surrounding much of his art, and his words to an extent, is an element of fluidity. His musical work often plays on clever time signatures and lyrical structure, tampering with how his music flows. His art reciprocates this somewhat. Streaks, twirls and waves work themselves around a central icon or image developing, on a simple level, mere aesthetic pleasure; on a higher note a lot of his work compliments his ideas and thoughts more often seen in his poesis.

Boyd's creative adaptability is what sets him up above the rest. He versatiley brings his fans an array of abounding ingenuity for our eyes and ears. Whether you take his work at face value or attempt to extend his work into something more, there's an angle for everyone. If you ever catch one of his interviews he often talks of his childhood and how he felt he was raised in an environment that (quite evidently) nurtured his artistic innovation to where he is today and where he will go. What all parties will come to appreciate is that creativity, for Brandon, is far from just work, but a lifestyle.

'So The Echo',out now, is available from Brandon Boyd's online shop here.

Friday, 8 November 2013

New room, new times.

For the third (and hopefully final) time during my university years I've moved once again, this time - I'm proud and privileged to say - to a much nicer area and certainly not so far from my university campus at all! Since the start of term several student publications have beaten me to the game of how to decorate your student room but nonetheless I thought I'd share what I've done this year to hopefully spark some ideas.

When I moved in my room was pretty bare. Nothing but my bed, an inadequately sized desk and one chair was provided thus my first port of call was furniture and, being a student, cheap and cheerful is paramount. Ikea, you are a saviour.

A bedside table is probably the most helpful piece of bedroom furniture with it being a common host for your lamp, books and, for me, copious amounts of tea. For £25 this guy is an absolute pleasure; easy to assemble, nice looking and plenty of space.The same goes for my bookcase. Being an English Literature student and Kindle sceptic, I have a forever increasing book collection. With no shelving provided in my room, this item was also an absolute necessity on my list. At just £15 I'm flabbergasted at its size and sturdiness. I went for a randomised approach to my shelves as I've always thought natural (but still sensibly placed) clutter can be quite attractive. I bought the hanging ivy from a plant sale on campus and with little attention, this little beauty has grown out really nicely to accompany my collection of books. Candles (£5, Tk Maxx), incense sticks (£2, Amazon) and a clock (£10, Tk Maxx) also made this area a bit more homely.

Wall space is something that I took a long time to figure out how to fill. Whilst posters are a cheap way to beautify your room, when they're simply stuck up I always feel it takes the power out of the picture and looks a little tatty. After a little research I found some cheap poster frames online (£10 ea, I can't remember where from...sorry!). Posters are a great way to express your interests and passions and these frames make them much tidier and gives that treasured music and art much more authority.

Above my bed is probably the most intriguing feature. I bought this vinyl art off eBay for £30 (inc. postage) and I haven't regretted it since. I didn't want my walls to lack variety and another couple of posters might have been slightly monotonous. My room in my old house used to have a really great mural wall and I considered something similar (see here) so after some research I came across these vinyl prints. Ok so perhaps it was a tad pricey but it gave my room a lot more personality and considering the amount of hours I've spent staring at it I think I've got my money's worth already. Plus, it's a great conversation starter. They're a bit of a mission to put up, so you might want another pair of hands if you're out for one.

I spend so much time in my room so I thought it was worth spending some money to make it my own. It might not be your style but, however you want your room, Tk Maxx, Dunelm, and online are the places to look. Not only are they affordable, but if you take some time looking through a lot of their stuff you can make some really interesting looks. The most cost-effective purchase? The canvas shelving in my wardrobe; only £3.99 and it's made such an organisational difference. Best buy irrespective of price? My bean bag: so, so comfy.

You might also want to check out some of these articles that I used when setting up my room. I thought some of the advice was crap, but it definitely sparked my imagination initially;

The National Student;

Student Beans;

The Telegraph;

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

'Hype Vibes' and Claude VonStroke

I've recently started writing for an online music blog called Hype Vibes. They cover big releases and news on the contemporary urban dance scene.

My first piece is on Claude VonStroke's new 'Urban Animal', one of my current favourites. You can check my article here. I've also embedded the Soundcloud preview of the album;

Also, here's a video which I found during my research which accompanies my article nicely. Turns out VonStroke seems a really decent guy! I love the way the entire album is based around liberation from what he calls the "9-5 grind" and that antipation that many feel for the weekend ahead. Check the video and see what you think;

UPDATE (19/01/2014); unfortunately this article is no longer hosted on this website, however I've posted it below;

Described as “spanning genre, space and mood” and “as unpredictable and bewildering as any living entity”, Claude VonStroke’s ‘Urban Animal’ certainly lives up to its name. With dirtybird’s 100th release expect to find experimental, metropolitan electronica combined with bouncy house beats, cleverly creating this idiosyncratic sound that delivers a fruitful depiction of the current Detroit techno movement.

‘Urban Animal’ opens with its title track. The dark tones and sharp, snappy beats immediately place you in VonStroke’s urban landscape. Along with the progressive bass undertones and rich piano, the track becomes a well-rounded uplifting piece of electronica, placing you in the right urban mind-set.

But the main energy is yet to come. ‘The Clapping Track’ and ‘Dood’ bring a whole new pounding dimension to the release. The former is a real crowd pleaser: happy and playful and no doubt a floor-filler; whilst the latter takes a more rugged approach, fuelled by squealing 303 synths and experimental, bendy vocals.

Whilst the album’s urban theme remains a constant, the genre is far from static. ‘Oakland Rope’ is the wild card that really shows off VonStroke’s eclectic skill. Collaborating with Fox & Py, the team have produced a really moreish drum and bass piece. With the echoey guitar samples and somewhat haunting vocals, it differs considerably to the heavy 4X4 beats that came before and in tracks such as ‘Can’t Wait’ which follow. Yet this differing style shows VonStroke’s diversity and how he is not confined to one field, consequently stressing the value of pleasure in dance music as an entire entity, and not in one particular genre.

The simple pleasure of dancing is exactly the impression you get of what VonStroke hopes of his listeners. He wants you to not just to listen to ‘Urban Animal’, but to be the urban animal; to thrive off the primitive pleasure of pounding grooves and flowing basslines. Don’t waste your time listening to this through small speakers. ‘Urban Animal’ is a dish best served loud and preferably in the collective claustrophobia of the city where it was designed to be listened to, amongst friends and strangers alike.

‘Urban Animal’ is available to buy on iTunes and Beatport. Alternatively, you can also listen to it on Spotify.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Album Review for The National Student - Phaeleh, 'Tides'

I wrote a review for Phaeleh's new album, 'Tides'. You can find it on the National Student website here. The album is out on both iTunes and Spotify so there's no excuse to not check it out! I've also linked the album below for Spotify users;

(09/07/2013) Update: Phaeleh has also just released an influences mix for Hyponik. Check that out below as well. Looks like I was right to make the comparison between him and Boards of Canada! Nice mix Phaeleh, you clearly have great taste.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

'Underground London', Stephen Smith

Aside from what can only be described as a literary mountain of books that I am slowly but surely working my way through for my degree, it's always nice to also get some of your own leisurely reading in as I'm sure you all well know, (this blog for can hope).

Over the last couple of weeks I've been dipping in to the journalist and travel writer Stephen Smith's 'Underground London'. Whilst an informative insight into what lurks beneath the city streets that we all accordingly love and loathe, Smith also develops an abundant array of characters, quite cleverly accompanying and complimenting the necessary cold, hard facts with the quirks of his meetings: the rather unforgettable personalities alongside their tales and mishaps. Every chapter tells a different tale, of a different time of London and at different locations. Whether Smith is knee deep in human slurry or learning a rather interactive version of Guy Fawkes' tale under the Palace of Westminster, for every trip and tale, you become the journalist doing the wading, the exploring. You meet the people and become part of places that unfortunately a lot of us wouldn't be able to - or wouldn't dare to - visit.

Everyone has an 'explorer' side within them. Some wish to see it themselves, others do not. The beauty of Smith's tale is that whether you daren't or you can't, for at least the brief time that you read his accounts, it's the closest you'll get. From all the non-fiction I've ever read, Smith really knows how to cleverly combine the best differences between the necessity of fact and the delight of his personal touches. His informal, lucid and imaginative prose sets the scene remarkably and, not only explains objectively that these places exist, but he then subjectively takes it so much further. We might never be fortunate enough to go to secret underground government tunnels, or to Churchill's war time havens, but Smith's story is certainly a little closer.

Therefore, any Londoner, and one with a particular passion for the subterranean level (like myself) should definitely give this little gem a read. I also recently discovered that this book part of his 'Underground' book series (where have I been?!).

And on a slightly related note, you might also want to check out this short documentary series of some guys that do get to go to these kind of places, albeit in not so legal ways. It's a passion and craze known as 'Urban Exploration'. A few of my friends are really into it, but I'll let the video do the explaining. I've been meaning to write a piece on these guys for some time (watch this space) as, most importantly, I think they sum up the reason why Smith amongst many of us want to delve into the past, closed off and out of bounds. Whilst these guys might be the ones that take that extra step, there are still plenty of us who wish we had the courage to do the same.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

'The National Student' and Daft Punk's 'Random Access Memories'

[I've just written a piece - albeit rather small - for 'The National Student' the other day. Check it below. I've just started writing for them so after exams I'll have much more time to take up this position properly. You can see the original article here]

Available for pre-order and stream on iTunes nowWith 'Get Lucky' already being the catchy summer hit for many worldwide, the online release of the album has caused quite the stir.

'Random Access Memories' has been a long awaited project that has been worked on by the French duo and others, including singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams, since 2008. Like the album's first chart hit, expect to hear more of these funky and vibrant grooves along with the iconic synths and beats of Daft Punk that we all know.
You can access the album by clicking here, then clicking 'View in iTunes' and then by clicking 'Listen Now'.


Saturday, 27 April 2013

'So Far' Summer Selection

Well the English weather has finally made a turn for the better with good times and, undoubtedly, good music following closely behind. Here's a selection of the gems I've been listening to in what hopefully isn't the only sunshine we'll get this year! Probably best you pick an easy going, chilled day to truly appreciate these. Take a listen, see what you think, enjoy the sunshine.

The Avalanches - Since I Left You

Gold Panda - Marriage

Telepopmusik - Breathe

Parov Stelar - Afternoon Breaks

 The Chemical Brothers - Swoon

Fc Kahuna - Hayling

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Happy New Year

A year ago today, I was a different person. As is everyone. Many become rather reflective at this time of year. You look back at everything that's happened and it's always a surprise as to how much has happened and changed that you didn't realise before. No matter how you spent it, 2012 was probably more significant in everyone's life than you probably realise. And it's bad idea to begin a new year thinking it'll be better than the last one; don't be so competitive. Every year in your life is far too different to compare. Memories, like a fine wine, grow better with age. You choose to remember the good times better than they actually were and conveniently forget the negative aspects. So, in reality, it's not likely your 2010 or '11 was better than your 2012. Best to embrace each year for the chapter it was in your life. What you've done, where you've been, what and who you know are all questions that might take longer to answer than you think.

I, personally, still being new to university and London at this time last year, have met so many fresh faces. I genuinely would struggle to find a number. It's been a rather emotional roller coaster; although I've gained a lot of people in my life I've also lost several...some I daresay for the better! Against the opinion of several I decided to change my university course and it was definitely the right decision. I've seen some great acts, travelled slightly and definitely found a year's worth of amazing music.

While you ponder on these bleak January days you might find you want to lose weight, realise you've got a paper Everest awaiting you imminently or you could be worrying that it's too late to build those bridges wherever they are in your life, but it's all repairable, replaceable, do-able in some way shape or form. Good luck with those resolutions. If you're successful in completing them then congratulations, you really must have wanted them; if you're not then don't worry - they're probably only trivial and life can't be that bad with those problems. Life is never as bad as it seems and, in the wise words of my Grandfather, "Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday, and it never happened".

Happy New Year everyone; make some memories.