Archive for ‘music’

January 29, 2011

Review – “Stand Still” by Emma’s Imagination

Emma’s Imagination, known to her mum as Emma Gillespie, was the winner of Sky One’s Must Be The Music, a much better version of X-Factor. Prior to releasing an album on a major label, she was a busker on the streets of her hometown of Glasgow.

‘Stand Still’ starts with the song that won Emma the competition, “This Day is Mine”. The album version has  been beefed up and over produced, watering down the laid-back optimism of the original girl-and-a-guitar version, a real shame. The rest of the songs though actually benefit from a slightly bigger sound the studio has allowed. Emma’s voice is strong and engaging, and the songs are well structured enough, to hold the  listeners attention. The album does have the sense of complete collection of songs, which is impressive from a debut, but there a no stand out tracks to take it to the next level.

Emma Gillespie is clearly a natural songwriter, with a clear style and sound that she wants to develop. It is clearly her album. This focus means that the album does at points sound a bit samey, although the songs are mostly good enough to overcome this. It is worth pointing out that eight of the ten tracks were written by her, which shouldn’t be worthy of comment but, in this time of professional karaoke singers, is. It is this songwriting ability that will mean that far from standing still, this debut album should be the start of a long career off the streets and in the studio for Emma’s Imagination.

December 31, 2010

>10 tunes of 2010 for your NYE party

>Here are 10 of VN’s favourite tunes to light up you NYE party this evening:

“One” – Swedish House Mafia
Katy on a Mission” – Katy B
“This Day is Mine” – Emma’s Imagination
“Ill Behaviour” – Danny Byrd
“Brainwashed” – Devlin
“Promise This” – Cheryl Cole
“Hollywood” – Marina and the Diamonds
“Telephone” – Lady Gaga
“Like a G6” – Far East Movement
“Acapella” –  Kelis

December 7, 2010

>Review: ‘Bud Sweat and Beers’ by Devlin


This debut from East London grime rapper Devlin is magnificent. Already his two singles ‘Brainwashed’ and ‘Runway’ have gone into the chart top 50, at 31 and 15 respectively, and the album looks certain to continue his career’s upward trajectory.

Deeply musical, but still seething with all attitude of the grime scene in which he grew up, each song
stands out and takes you on a journey, guides you through a story. It is the depth and musicality that makes ‘Bud Sweat and Beers’ stand out from the usual shouty grime fare. The album is well produced, with layers of strings, synths, and drums supporting the strong vocal delivery. When Devlin combines with female vocalists, the effect of the contrast is devastating, and sublime. Furthermore his collaborations with the likes of Labrinth look likely so send him head first into the mainstream.

Some down sides? Well the religious content of some of the tracks occasionally makes the listener feel like they are being preached at, but this is more than made up for by the social awareness demonstrated throughout the album.  Devlin is a man in touch with the fears and hopes of real people. He is talking about aspiration, and the difficulty in achieving you dreams. He is doing it with some seriously catchy hooks and moving lyrics.

‘My name’s Devlin & I’m just trying to gain entry to your mind‘  he announces on ‘Brainwashed’. VN’s advice is to let him in.

December 2, 2010

>Grammy 2011 nominations announced


The nominations for the 2011 Grammy’s are out. Eminem leads the way with 10 nominations with the Gaga and genius Jay-Z both have 6. VN reckons Eminem should claim best album (for ‘Recovery’), Jay-Z and Alicia Key’s should get record of the year (for ‘Empire State of Mind’) and our beloved Florence and her Machine should get best new artist. If Bieber wins that, there is going to be trouble…. The full list of nominations is as follows:

Album of the Year
Arcade Fire – ‘The Suburbs’
Eminem – ‘Recovery’
Lady Antebellum – ‘Need You Now’
Lady Gaga – ‘The Fame Monster’
Katy Perry – ‘Teenage Dream’

Record of the Year
B.o.B (featuring Bruno Mars) – ‘Nothin’ on You’
Eminem (featuring Rihanna) – ‘Love the Way You Lie’
Cee Lo Green – ‘F*ck You’
Jay-Z and Alicia Keys – ‘Empire State of Mind’
Lady Antebellum – ‘Need You Now’

Best New Artist
Justin Bieber
Florence & the Machine
Mumford & Sons
Esperanza Spalding

Song of the Year
Ray LaMontagne – ‘Beg Steal or Borrow’
Cee Lo Green – ‘F*ck You’
Miranda Lambert – ‘The House That Built Me’
Eminem (featuring Rihanna) – ‘Love the Way You Lie’
Lady Antebellum – ‘Need You Now’

Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals
Glee cast – ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ (Regionals Version)’
Maroon 5 – ‘Misery’
Paramore – ‘The Only Exception’
Sade – ‘Babyfather’
Train – ‘Hey, Soul Sister (Live)’

Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals
B.o.B, Eminem and Hayley Williams – ‘Airplanes II’
Herbie Hancock, Pink, India.Arie, Seal, Konono No. 1, Jeff Beck and Oumou Sangare – ‘Imagine’
Elton John & Leon Russell – ‘If It Wasn’t For Bad’
Lady Gaga and Beyoncé – ‘Telephone’
Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg – ‘California Gurls’

Best Dance Recording
Goldfrapp – ‘Rocket’
La Roux – ‘In For The Kill’
Lady Gaga – ‘Dance in the Dark’
Rihanna – ‘Only Girl (In the World)’
Robyn – ‘Dancing on My Own’

Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals
Arcade Fire – ‘Ready To Start’
Jeff Beck and Joss Stone – ‘I Put a Spell on You
The Black Keys – ‘Tighten Up’
Kings of Leon – ‘Radioactive’
Muse – ‘Resistance’

Best Hard Rock Performance
Alice in Chains – ‘A Looking in View
Ozzy Osbourne – ‘Let Me Hear You Scream
Soundgarden – ‘Black Rain
Stone Temple Pilots – ‘Between the Lines
Them Crooked Vultures – ‘New Fang

Best Rock Song
Neil Young – ‘Angry World’
Mumford & Sons – ‘Little Lion Man’
Kings of Leon – ‘Radioactive’
Muse – ‘Resistance’
The Black Keys – ‘Tighten Up’

Best Alternative Music Album
Arcade Fire – ‘The Suburbs’
Band of Horses – ‘Infinite Arms’
The Black Keys – ‘Brothers’
Broken Bells – ‘Broken Bells’
Vampire Weekend – ‘Contra’

Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals
Chris Brown and Tank – ‘Take My Time’
Chuck Brown, Jill Scott and Marcus Miller – ‘Love’
Ronald Isley and Aretha Franklin – ‘You’ve Got a Friend’
John Legend and the Roots – ‘Shine’
Sade – ‘Soldier of Love’

Best Contemporary R&B Album
Chris Brown – ‘Graffiti’
R. Kelly – ‘Untitled’
Ryan Leslie – ‘Transition’
Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid’
Usher – ‘Raymond v. Raymond’

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
B.o.B (featuring Bruno Mars) – ‘Nothin’ on You’
Chris Brown, Tyga and Kevin McCall – ‘Deuces’
Eminem and Rihanna – ‘Love the Way You Lie’
Jay-Z and Alicia Keys – ‘Empire State of Mind’
John Legend, the Roots, Melanie Fiona and Common – ‘Wake Up! Everybody

Best Rap Song
Jay-Z and Alicia Keys – ‘Empire State of Mind’
Eminem and Rihanna – ‘Love the Way You Lie’
Eminem – ‘Not Afraid’
B.o.B (featuring Bruno Mars) – ‘Nothin’ on You’
Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz – ‘On to the Next One’

Best Rap Album
B.o.B – ‘The Adventures of Bobby Ray’
Drake – ‘Thank Me Later’
Eminem – ‘Recovery’
Jay-Z – ‘The Blueprint 3’
The Roots – ‘How I Got Over’

Best Country Collaboration With Vocals
Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson – ‘Bad Angel’
Dierks Bentley, Del McCoury and the Punch Brothers – ‘Pride (In the Name of Love)’
Zac Brown Band and Alan Jackson – ‘As She’s Walking Away’
Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins – ‘Hillbilly Bone’
Marty Stuart and Connie Smith – ‘I Run to You’

Best Country Song
George Strait – ‘The Breath You Take’
Zac Brown Band – ‘Free’
Miranda Lambert – ‘The House That Built Me’
Gretchen Wilson – ‘I’d Love To Be Your Last’
The Band Perry – I I Die Young’
Lady Antebellum – ‘Need You Now’

Best Country Album
Dierks Bentley – ‘Up on the Ridge’
Zac Brown Band – ‘You Get What You Give’
Jamey Johnson – ‘The Guitar Song’
Lady Antebellum – ‘Need You Now’
Miranda Lambert – ‘Revolution’

Best Americana Album
Rosanne Cash – ‘The List’
Los Lobos – ‘Tin Can Trust’
Willie Nelson – ‘Country Music’
Robert Plant – ‘Band of Joy’
Mavis Staples – ‘You Are Not Alone’

Best Traditional Blues Album
James Cotton – ‘Giant’
Cyndi Lauper – ‘Memphis Blues’
Charlie Musselwhite – ‘The Well’
Pinetop Perkins and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith – ‘Joined at the Hip’
Jimmie Vaughan – ‘Plays Blues, Ballads & Favorites’

November 26, 2010

>Albarn’s iPad album could be out ‘before Christmas’

>Having taking an animated band mainstream, Gorrilaz  frontman Damon Albarn has refused to be left behind in the tech stakes, and has recorded the next album on his iPad while on tour. He told the NME that using his new favourite toy had prompted him to record ‘a completely different type of record’, which could be out by Christmas. As far as VN knows, no tracks have escaped the precious portable device yet.  

iPad music seems to be the 21st Centuries version of lo-fi, with a growing scene emerging around making music with portable devices. VN doubts whether the iPad will become a standard part of the studio set up, but it will be interesting to see if an album produced on one is listenable.

November 25, 2010

>New Adele single


VN has been getting increasingly excited about the new Adele album ’21’, which is coming out early next year. Here is the first single, ‘Rolling In’, which will be released next month and shows her fabulous voice at it’s best. This is not official video, but shows some nice studio footage.
November 21, 2010

>New Take That album goes straight to number one

> Take That’s new album ‘Progress’ has gone straight to number one in the album charts. They see of competition from Rihanna, and Susan Boyle. The newly reformed ‘man band’ are also at number two in the singles charts, with JLS claiming top spot with ‘Love You More’.

After their rather fabulous rendition of ‘Never Forget’ on Children in Need on Friday it is no surprise people are loving the group. Altogether now…

November 12, 2010

>White Stripes back in the studio

>Fans of the strangenick combo the White Stripes will be delighted to know they are back in the studio recording their seventh album. Nope no idea how they got to seven either.

The band clearly have some unfinished business, as Jack told Vanity Fair magazine: “We thought we’d do a lot of things that we’d never done: a full tour of Canada, a documentary, coffee-table book, live album, a boxed set. It was one long project that took almost three years.” What band is complete without its very own coffee table book? Just what Jagger and Richards always wanted…

There have though been issues surrounding the health of drummer Meg. She suffered from anxiety, prompting many of the band’s dates to be cancelled a couple of years back. Bored, Jack then ran off with The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, who, I am sure you will agree, made an enormous impact on the musical spectrum.

Here though, are the band at their best, with the fab Hotel Yorba.

September 27, 2010

>Danny Byrd releases ‘Ill Behaviour’


Danny Byrd has done it once again, releasing another barnstorming single on Hospital Records. This one is called ‘Ill Behaviour’ and it is out today, available on iTunes. Featuring a hook that will embed itself into your brain, backed up by a top quality drum line this tune will cause chaos on dance floors across the country. As with most Hospital releases, it also has immense crossover appeal, and will no doubt worm its way into the mainstream.

If you buy the full EP you also get Moowalker ‘on the flip side’, if such a thing still exists in the digital era. The tracks certainly got VN warmed up for the full album, which will follow shortly.
September 23, 2010

>Emma’s Imagination wins Must Be the Music

>As regular readers will know VN has very much backed Sky 1’s ‘Must Be the Music’ over ITV’s increasingly contrived X-Factor. Lost in the bowels of the Echo Arena in Liverpool covering Lib Dem  conference it was not possible to cover the live Wembley final. However, it was great to find out that the exceptionally talented Emma’s Imagination, a former busker in Glasgow, had won the competition. Many of the shows stars have broken into the both the main charts and specialist charts but Emma’s ‘Focus’, the song that won her the competition, could well be it’s first number one on Sunday. Number one or not, it is great to see genuine singer-songwriter talented taken off the streets and into the studio. The winning performance is below:

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