Enter Shikari - A Flash Flood of Colour

Enter Shikari

A Flash Flood of Colour

Released: Jan 16 2012

Genre: Electronic/Hardcore

Label: Ambush Reality

Rating: 8/10


By James Murray

Enter Shikari has always been about breaking boundaries. Rewinding back to their earliest days under the ‘Hybrid’ alias, exploiting the predefined boundaries of music genres was the core aim: ‘A Flash Flood of Colour’ shows that this motive remains – their most profound and polished record to date.

In a rather crudely simplified way, ‘A Flash Flood of Colour’ sounds like a refined ‘Common Dreads’. As expected, the dubstep/drum & bass influences are heavily featured, however, this time round productions are tighter and as a result the record is a lot more professional sounding.

Opener ‘System…’ ‘…Meltdown’ eases into action with the identical buoyant synth used to introduce ‘Common Dreads’; euphoric keys take the place of a vocal introduction – a subtle hint at the electronic-driven tracks which, for the first time in the history of Enter Shikari, perhaps overtake their hardcore elements. That’s not to say this is an electronic record: ‘A Flash Flood of Colour’ is still heavy at times, driven by political rage and robust as ever – Enter Shikari are just perfecting the electronic cross-over sound that they’ve been experimenting with for years.

The opening two tracks are heavily influenced by drum and bass, including the now familiar-to-many ‘Sssnakepit’, which epitomises the new Enter Shikari sound. While the intense breakdowns, relentless rock/synth melodies and trademark Enter Shikari choruses dominate the majority of ‘A Flash Flood of Colour’, the less experimental, toned down tracks are equally, if not more effective. The downbeat ‘Search Party’ is vocally emphatic; evoking the vision of far-reaching fields filled with chanting Enter Shikari fans at mind.

The hit-hat driven ‘Arguing With Thermometers’ showcases the most infectious, dance-floor friendly choruses Enter Shikari have ever created, and as a result it won’t take many listens before it’ll be jammed into your head for days: “That’s the sound of another door shutting in, in the face of progress, in the face of progress”.

Stalemate’ and ‘Constellations’ follow suit with this much softer Enter Shikari sound. Both politically forceful and educating, ‘Stalemate’ acts as an instrumental ode to ‘Adieu’ – though not quite as mellow, the same melodically/vocal hard-hitting formula remains. The entire five minutes of ‘Constellations’ is a steadily progressive message of optimism, beautifully delivered with light keys and heart-felt vocals.

A Flash Flood of Colour’ is a forward-thinking record for forward-thinking music fans. If you’re expecting a musical regression back to ‘Take To The Skies’ look away now. For the pro-evolutionist, this record encapsulates almost every successful trait Enter Shikari have ever possessed – delivered in a musically mature, and as a result, engaging third full-length.

Enter Shikari – Sssnakepit

Foxes! - Foxes!



Released: Jan 16 2012

Genre: Indie Pop

Label: Big Salad

Rating: 8/10


By: Dan Titcombe

Foxes! offer a breath of fresh air within the indie pop music spectrum, through their captivating rhythms and simplistic, yet infectious melodies. Foxes! husband/wife partnership gifts them with an innocent aura which separates this straightforward indie pop from other upcoming bands.

Their self-titled album ‘Foxes’ is a compilation of 12 songs, each with their own atmosphere but with enough familiarity to defines Foxes! as a band with exceptional talent.

Amongst their many standout tracks is ‘The Panda Bear Song’ which flaunts an innocent and childlike motif, held up with a toe-tapping drum-beat, harmonic lyrics and an outstanding guitar technique which showcases the beauty that this band can achieve through their music.

‘Welcome to the Jivin’ starts with a style which sounds, as the title sounds, very close to that 1930s sound – a real slice of nostalgia and exceptional demonstration of diversity. ‘Welcome to the Jivin’ has a relaxing keyboard melody, a great drum beat and a fantastic rhythm section, which combined with the right tempo creates yet another beautiful song on this outstanding album.

Another admirable track is ‘Oh Rosie’. This song has an incredible guitar piece which closely eludes an almost chaotic atmosphere and when the song starts to break down you can really sense the emotions bursting at the seams.

Foxes!, with their eponymous debut, offer their own truly unique take on music with this record. This album could quite possibly kick start this band and place them on the path to success. Foxes! is most certainly a name to look out for.

Foxes! – The Panda Bear Song

Smoke Like A Fish - Blood, Fish and Bone

Smoke Like A Fish

Blood, Fish and Bone

Released: July 06 2011

Genre: Punk/Ska/Reggae

Label: Do The Dog

Rating: 3.5/5


By: Rebecca Woolston

Smoke Like a Fish certainly know how to go out with a bang. After announcing last year that the band were to split up, Blood, Fish and Bone is the promised album which was left behind, along with some final tour dates, which are set to end later this month. This album most definitely holds the purpose of making sure that Smoke Like a Fish are not forgotten in a hurry; full of bouncy, energetic ska riffs, which leave you no choice but to tap your foot.

Blood, Fish and Bone is very simply a punk flecked ska record; a sound which any previous listeners of Smoke Like a Fish will know very well. But that’s not to say you’ll be easily bored by them – In fact, the very opposite is likely to be felt. This album is interesting throughout; layering a great amount of sounds the whole way through and including both brass and keys to the usual mix. The whole album is as energetic as possible and is likely to have any keen ska listener hooked.

The tone of the album is set right from the opening song ‘Perfect World’, which is catchy and fast-paced; perfect for dancing to. It starts off with a slow keyboard tune and suddenly bursts into life with rapid drum beats, rhythmic guitar riffs and a catchy brass melody. Another highlight of the album, is the bands cover of the Zounds song ‘Subvert’, which is just as effective played in Smoke Like a Fish’s ska punk style, as it was originally. This song is just as fast-paced and rhythmic as the rest of the album and almost seems to have been made for the voice of the front man, who seems to nearly spit the words of the verse. ‘Subvert’ also features a fantastic saxophone solo, which swoops impressively over the on-going guitar riff. The album ends with the catchy ‘Blow the Whole Thing Up’, which is sure to stay in your head for hours after the album has finished, even through the hidden track which it is followed with.

With their last album being released in 2004, this is most definitely worth the wait and just proves what a shame it is that Smoke Like a Fish are soon to be no more. Despite this, their final album will certainly not leave them forgotten – it’s just a shame that it couldn’t have got them as much
recognition as they deserve.

Smoke Like A Fish – Blow The Whole Thing Up

By: Chris Fishlock

Having released their latest album since 1999 in the form of ‘Is This Hyperreal?’ , we caught up with Alec Empire from Atari Teenage Riot, who are currently touring the US and preparing to release new single Black Flags. We talked to Alec about the new video, the latest album, the music industry and more.

Atari Teenage Riot

You have teamed up with activist group Anonymous for your new video for ‘Black Flags’, do you support the work Anonymous have done so far? What do you think of their high profile attack on Sony earlier this year?

Alec: We referenced them in our song which we recorded a few months ago, so when we announced the concept for the video, a few of them got in touch to participate on some level. Of course we totally loved that. I mean, there are so many people involved, you can’t really say that ‘they all’ got involved because they don’t function like that. I love their sense of humor, their actions, the image.

I witnessed a protest a while ago against Scientology in Germany and that was really powerful stuff. But I have to say that I also like the trolling and all the non political joke stuff… It’s just my sense of humor. Some people call that ‘childish’ but I like it… And their political activism is right. In the situation we are right now with the authorities making peaceful protesting impossible and mainstream media ignoring those protests, taking down a website of a corporation can send a message. Can it change anything? Let me put it this way, it can change more than democratically elected politicians can change right now. Because people see the actions and question the status quo. That is good and important.

You are getting fans to contribute to the ‘Black Flags’ video, you also often talk to fans via twitter and social networks, is connecting with your fan base and making them part of things such as music videos something you find important?

Alec: I think it’s good to let others participate in projects like this. It’s also a lot of fun. We were surprised by all the clips we got sent by fans. They had good ideas. It takes some balls to film yourself and appear in a music video. Especially one with a message like this one. Some people sent in crazy black flag corpsing shots… In a shopping mall for example – seconds later the security guards would appear. The best thing is when you watch the whole takes where people lip-sync the song, they have such a fun time doing it – that just put me in a good mood! In times when record labels go down, who do you listen to… Yes, the fans! Everything else is just bubbles which burst after a few weeks.

ATR // 'Black Flags' artwork

Before the reunion of Atari Teenage Riot you were ready to release a new solo album before deciding to concentrate on ATR, any plans for the album’s release?

Alec: Yes, it’s still waiting for its release. I am not rushing it.

‘Is This Hyperreal?’ has been well received critically, how do you think it stands up against the other Atari Teenage Riot albums? And which of the four albums is your personal favourite and why?

Alec: It’s the best ATR album in my opinion. The only problem is that some music critics can’t decipher the lyrics when they don’t deal with those political topics. I read some of the dumbest shit I have ever read. Journalists write things like we are ‘against the internet’ for example, but then authors like Steven Levy did great interviews/conversations with me. That’s what I love most about this record. The type of people it made me come in contact with. People who really know their shit. I also realised that anything related to internet swarm buzz hype shit is not for me at all. I am very very bored with the music industry at this point.

Atari Teenage Riot – Activate!

You have blogged about how the music industry has changed and that both file sharers and major labels are greedy. How do you think the music industry needs to change in order to prevent both the major labels and file sharers from running the industry?

Alec: They run the what’s left of the industry and they all run it into the ground. Governments try to help with funding in various countries – I see that as the biggest threat to free art.

I am on the side of those who create and produce and not of those who exploit and consume. In the blog you mentioned I spoke about a ‘new mindset’. People have to understand that they drive the music scene and should be in control. So their choices should motivate the artists to create, not only what people expect them to but also to surprise them.

The problem of our era is that music has no value to most people. It is expected. Like the food that is stocked in supermarket chains or the water that’s coming out of your bathroom tub. I am only speaking about it because people ask me, I don’t really care about what happens to the music industry or scene as a whole. Mainly because I don’t see myself as a part of it.

Despite all members of ATR not being British, the band have been based in London with both the comeback and album premiere shows taking place in the city, do you find that the band have a special bond with London and what do you think about the recent riots that have taken place in the city?

Alec: London always played a key role for us. We were first played on the radio by John Peel there, got signed to a Major label, then created our label Digital Hardcore there. We mastered almost all records there. I blogged about the riots in London a few hours after they occurred. I suggest you read the article. It did receive over 100,000 unique views in the first day it went up and was quoted in various articles about the riots in Germany.

On a bit of a different note, you have plenty of young and new bands supporting you on tour, what newer bands do you recommend we check out and what older bands are you currently listening to a lot at the moment?

Alec: Yes, amazing stuff. Otto Von Schirach with his new music has been killing it every night on the US tour so far. Retox which is members of All Leather and Locust were blowing people away. We have Rowdy Superstar opening up for our dates in October. I love that guy. Very very good stuff. Do they have beards, stand around and play safe to death guitar indie electronic crap that pleases boring people? No. That’s why I love playing with powerful musicians, they are part of a great night.

You can currently download ‘Black Flags’ for free here, and make sure you check out the bands phenomenal live show, at the dates below:

05.10.2011 AT-Vienna, Szene
06.10.2011 AT-Linz, Posthof
07.10.2011 SI-Ljubljana, Kino Siska
12.10.2011 DE-Berlin, Astra
13.10.2011 DE-Leipzig, Werk II
14.10.2011 DE-Cottbus, Gladhouse
15.10.2011 PL-Warsaw, Progresja
16.10.2011 PL-Wroclaw, Firlej
21.10.2011 AT-Dornbirn, Dornbirn
22.10.2011 DE-Stuttgart, Universum
28.10.2011 NL-Dordrecht, Bibelot
29.10.2011 NL-Haarlem, Patronaat
31.10.2011 FR-Lille, Aeronef
01.11.2011 FR-Clermont-Ferrand,
03.11.2011 FR-Saint-Etienne, Le Fil
04.11.2011 FR-Nantes, Le Ferrailleur
23.11.2011 RU-Moscow, Tochka
24.11.2011 RU-St. Petersburg, Glavclub
25.11.2011 FI-Helsinki, Nosturi
26.11.2011 SE-Stockholm, Debaser

By: Alexandra Lyon

On the weekend of September 3rd hundreds of music fans from all around Doncaster gathered in the Market Place, for one of the town’s most popular events. Doncaster Live, a free event, is hosted by the council each year to showcase new local talent and give the people of Doncaster a brilliant few days.

Among the acts were Playground Mafia, Summerlin, Stone Ugly and MC Stereos to name a few. Co-headlining on the Saturday night were The Beaus. These talented boys all grew up in Doncaster, and really show that Doncaster has people to be proud of. Consisting of Doya Beardmore on guitar and vocals, Daniel Nicklin on bass, and Mitchell Fenn on the drums, I caught up with Doya and Daniel to ask a few questions.

Doya Beardmore // The Beaus @ Doncaster Live

Where did you initially meet, and whose idea was it to form a band?

Daniel: We’ve known each other since we were sort of, five, or something? So…
Doya: Yeah, we’ve always been messing about with tunes and that. We like loads of bands, and we got together with Mitchell and just started doing it properly. But yeah, we’ve known each other since we were five.

Did you find it difficult to get started and get noticed around Doncaster?

Doya: No, the other way round really. We did our first gig in Doncaster and for some reason everyone turned up. We had a different singer then, and it wasn’t that good basically. So, everyone just seemed to know from the off and then we sort of had to get good while everybody waited.
Daniel: That was the most awful gig!
Doya: Haha, yeah. But we’re good now, so it’s alright.

How long have you been playing together?

Daniel: What is it now?
Doya: Four years? Yeah, four years. A lot of grafting, and loads of rubbish gigs!

Have there been any particular high points or low points in your careers so far?

Daniel: We once played, you know the King Blues?
Doya: .. Yeah, this is a low point –
Daniel: We played in Manchester two years ago now and something happened with the promoters, basically. The King Blues fell out with the promoters and to tried to do them over, they put us on after them so that we were headlining. And it was a small place, they brought about 150 people. They played, then as soon as they were finished everyone just went, so we had to play to an empty room.
Doya: Yeah, only one man stayed.

You were one of the headliners for Doncaster Live this year, how do you like playing in Doncaster compared to in other places?

Daniel: Well, this is the first time we’ve played in Donny for about two years. So it was nice to play this one, like after all this time when some people you know come down and see you. We don’t play here often, but tonight’s been good, yeah.
Doya: We were gonna play last year, same slot, but we got into a bit of a dilemma in Newcastle and he got a nice punch to his jaw. So we couldn’t exactly play. We were a bit out of it!

The Beaus – All’s Well That Ends Well

Are you playing any more gigs this year? If not, what do you have planned instead?

Doya: You’ve missed all our summer ones, we’ve done all our summer sort of festivals, this is the last one for that.
Daniel: I think we’re going to be recording mainly, this winter.
Doya: An album or an EP.
Daniel: And then maybe some gigs later on in the year. Not sure, yet.
Doya: I think we might have a few in London, just a few. Tasters really, down there in late autumn.

Are there any particular gigs that you’ve played that always stick in your mind?

Both: Sound City!
Doya: Yeah, Sound City in Liverpool, that was great.
Daniel: Everyone just sort of, got it.
Doya: Yeah, we headlined the Yorkshire Music Stage. We got there and it was pretty empty, bit of a drag… But yeah, we got there and after the first note it was just packed out. Absolutely buzzing, we got really into it.

Daniel Nicklin // The Beaus @ Doncaster Live

Have you got any plans for an album? If yes, when roughly do you think it’ll be released?

Daniel: I don’t think it’ll be until next year, but we’ll probably be recording this year mainly.
Doya: Yeah, next year maybe? Possibly early spring.
Daniel: Plus, all the Christmas stuff’s gonna slow it.
Doya: Yeah, we’ve just got a big bag of tunes. Just got to record them and pick the best ones. The best ones to wear!

Last one, where do you see yourselves in five years time?

Doya: Haha, last time we were asked this question it was for this Mexican magazine… they translated it wrong. They asked us where we’d be, and we said “the biggest band in the world!”
Daniel: It translated as “we are currently the biggest band in the world.” So yeah, there’s a lot of Mexicans who think we’re fairly cocky!
Doya: Yeah but, no, in five years, we want to be managing properly, have a portfolio off the back of it. Maybe I might have like a used car dealership, just something ticking along in the background. A bit of second income, it’s important. It’ll keep the bank manager happy!

Dennis Hopper Choppers - Be Ready

Dennis Hopper Choppers

Be Ready

Released: July 04 2011

Genre: Folk Rock / Psychedelic

Label: D.Wink

Rating: 4.0/5


By Diether Scholten 

Last June Ben Nicholls’ one-man-band evolved into a multiple-guest-star orchestra-like ensemble – Dennis Hopper Choppers. With a two-day recording marathon in a south-London based studio Be Ready took shape.

Be Ready spawned in the area where movies like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly were shot. This movie-stage sure has left it’s fingerprint on this new album, as every song manages to creates some kind of story-telling atmosphere which will prove to be a bit of a challenge for the director of the music clips, if there even will be…

The opening song, Good To Me, could be used in a spaghetti western which is due to a shrill trumpet that Ennio Moricone could have thought up himself. Ben Nicholls’ deep and rich voice throughout the introduction takes you on a cinematic trip.

Climaxes in this roller-coaster record are the over-melodic All That I Once Thought, and the semi-aggressive bass-line and chorus throughout My Destiny.  Nicholls really shows the power of his voice in going from a deep and slow, repeating ballad to an incredible build up in Number 1, leading through its climax in a jazzy saxophone-solo.

In between these climaxes great mood-setters can be found. Some tracks seem to capture the tunes of certain areas, Persia for example, as displayed in Good To Me. And after a long ride on a chopper, with All Could Come True and Long Trip Home some slightly tempered Russian folk can be heard in Moscow Nights. Further down the road Razor Gang sounds like a gang of choppers rampaging over a busy highway. Approaching the end of the album, Heart To Dry has “walking lonely in the Spanish desert” written all over it.

The final track, Come To My Party feels like one grim package of all previous songs; offering a great build up that leads to a final closure.

Whether in the mood for some folk rock or not, the tracks on this album succeed in creating atmosphere – and with just a 2-day recording session this is a job well done.

Dennis Hopper Choppers – Good To Me

Soft Metals - Soft Metals

Soft Metals

Soft Metals

Released: July 19 2011

Genre: Electronica 

Label: Captured Tracks

Rating: 3.5/5


By: Alexandra Lyon

The self-titled Soft Metals album doesn’t give us any clues in its name as to what the album may sound like. Far from sounding like any kind of soft metal, this bundle of psychedelic 80’s-synth inspired album is absolutely fascinating.

The duo of Patricia Hall and Ian Hicks, hailing from Portland, Oregon, has created a car-crash of sound that is both exciting and thoroughly interesting. Reminiscent on some levels to the sounds of Crystal Castles, this ten-track album lacks the whisky fuelled energy and terror brought by Alice Glass, but instead replaces it with a dreamy, almost hypnotic undertone that any fan of electronica would appreciate.

The tracks that feature would not seem out of place on the soundtrack to any 80’s-related television series or film. Through the incredible use of synth and keyboards, it’s almost possible to see women disappearing down the street with poodle perms and polka-dot jumpsuits – shoulder pads optional.

The first song on the album, Psychic Driving, is everything that you would expect from an album such as this. Synth riffs that scream Duran Duran are layered over an effortless vocal from Hall, and the repetitive nature of the song has a trippy effect on the listener. The melody is melancholy and disjunct, a clever tactic used by most musicians to evoke feelings of sadness or fear. And yet, the track remains pleasant to listen to. This track, as well as the album on a whole, represents the oddity and originality of Soft Metals, and really showcases their ability in that the audience is clearly identified and the duo are staying true to a genre of music that they are clearly very passionate about.

The album in general is very emotional in terms of the voice and lyrics of Patricia Hall, notably in Voices and Pain. The poignant lyrics and the velvet tones from Hall combined with the surreal accompaniment of discotheque waves come together to really scream at the audience and notify them of the arrival of Soft Metals. Other tracks particularly worthy of note include Celestial Call, a sci-fi inspired track -haunting, resonate vocals and high-pitched scales muted with a dreamy computerised overlay of digital sound effects. This track is intriguing and allows it to be set on a different tangent from the other tracks – though they are all uniquely interesting, this track is set apart in its own right.

These ten tracks are enthralling in that they would be an outcast were they in human form, stood in a crowd. Unlike most other albums by different artists, their sound does not conform to a particular style that they have established. Though their influences and the general tonality and genre of the tracks stay same throughout, it is almost as though this were a greatest hits album with some of their more experimental tracks and some of their safer more well-guarded works. Their hypnotising keyboard ostinatos and catchy hooks in the lyrics ensure that this, their first full-length album effort, will be highly regarded by many critics and fans of electronica. They are a revival of the past, fused with the future, and their eccentric synth drones will surely be the fuel they need to ignite a promising career in music.

Soft Metals – Celestial Call

Washed Out - Within and Without

Washed Out

Within and Without

Released: July 12 2011

Genre: Synthpop / Chillwave

Label: Sub Pop

Rating: 4.0/5


By: Terri O’Reilly

Ernest Greene, the young man behind Washed Out, is a fast growing name that one should become familiar with – a definite one to watch for the future. Clearly marking his territory with his debut EP Life of Leisure, Greene is doing so again with his debut album, Within and Without; Laced with that synthpop, chillwave/lo-fi flare that Ernest knows, and executes only too well.

The opening track Eyes Be Closed is a great example of his talent, yet it lacks something that can only be hoped for in the following tracks. With so much to his name, you would think that it would kick off with something along the lines of Amor Fati, nonetheless it is still a synthypop dreamlike song that keeps a steady balance just like the eight others that follow.

Echoes, the second track, is comparable to the dreamlike nature of its predecessor, yet it has a Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs feel, with rhythmic patterns watered down to create a mood and noise of its own. Amor Fati is a highlight of the album for its  light-joyful-sunshine-everything-is-all-peaches-and-cream sentiment. “Don’t try / you’ll find / was not your fault / the goal / reach out / the choice is yours to find” oozes out optimism and echoes from every line, to every word, to every sound.

Soft lasts just over five and a half minutes, and like its title it is incredibly soft sounding and simplistic. Though repetitive lyrically for just over five and a half minutes, it is surprisingly not insipid and which would assume fall flat, rather bursts with beauty. With Far Away, the beat changes, yet the fact that Ernest Greene’s voice never deviates from the first song to the last is what holds the continuous balance and flow throughout the album.

Before is a masterpiece of the “chillwave” genre, and can be left as such. Clearly it is a work of art, morphing the perfect balance of lyric and creative sound into a divine sensation. You and I, is a perfect track to follow up Before, maintaining the mellow dreamlike sound, adhering to the strong believer and fan of the genre.

The eighth track Within and Without, which obviously lends a hand in the naming of the album itself, seems to be the missing link to the chain. It lacks the creative spark that was so eminent to all of the previous tracks, yet with A Dedication all is forgotten. Though one might find A Dedication a total deviation from the rest of the album because of the piano introduction – later followed by synths and a pop-like invasion – it truly showcases Washed Out as he emerges as a dynamic, all-round performer.

Washed Out – Eyes Be Closed

Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2011

So the 2011 Mercury Prize nominations for album of the year have been announced; and as expected, there’s some fantastic albums shortlisted. In anticipation ahead of tonight’s ceremony at The Hospital Club, London here’s an album by album breakdown of the nominees. We’ve tipped some of these artists for success for 2011, and it’s refreshing to see an awards ceremony celebrating genuinely innovative and forward-thinking new music.


Adele – 21

Adele - 21

Let’s do this alphabetically – and coincidentally  start with the most predictable nomination. If an artist can sell 2.2 million copies in the U.S alone and reach the #1 slot for 10 (nonconsecutive) weeks, it becomes fair to say it’s been a good year. Let’s face it, when it comes to popular music Adele has been the voice of 2011. 21 is a record full of hits that has propelled her from her status as a success into an extraordinary pop sensation. The glory of 21 hasn’t faded yet, and it won’t be at all surprising if she adds yet another award to her rapidly filling trophy cabinet.


Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi

Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi

NME favourite Anna Calvi is perhaps one of the less likely nominees, with her self-titled debut album. But there’s no doubt that 2011 has been the year that’s got her noticed. Touring with the NME Radar Tour and being nominated for the BBC Sound of 2011 poll, Calvi has earned her place as one of the most inspiring female vocalists of the past year. Her unmistakable vocals and quintessentially British aroma has drawn up comparisons to flattering influences such as PJ Harvey and Nick Cave. We wouldn’t tip her for the prize, but there’s much more ahead of Anna Calvi.


Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys!

Elbow - Build A Rocket Boys!

One of the more reputable names shortlisted is Manchester’s rock veterans, Elbow. Their fifth and most recent album, Build A Rocket Boys! has been subject to acclaim from the majority of publications – and tipped by many to be the best of their almost 15 year career. With their fantastic live reputation and positive progression as musicians, Elbow deserve recognition for their impressive contribution to British music. Have they nailed the album of the year? Well, they’ve got some pretty tough competition – and could quite probably be edged about by one of the newcomers.


Everything Everything – Man Alive

Everything Everything - Man Alive

Let’s be honest, what a win would this be. Not only because Everything Everything are perhaps the underdogs here, but because Man Alive is genuinely one of the most interesting and creative records of the year – at the same time as being undeniably contagious. Everything Everything have been one of the leaders in the evolution of Manchester’s music exports, and their incomparable sound sticks out like a sore thumb (but in a good way). What could be better that seeing a band that writes songs about Adobe Photoshop and NASA clinch this years award.


Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam

Ghostpoet - Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam

It’s nice to see the Mercury Prize recognise contributions to urban and electronic music. With SBTRKT not being shortlisted, Ghostpoet only has to top Katy B and James Blake to be in for a chance of winning the award. Easier said than done, but Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam is a brilliant new twist on urban culture, with experimental yet dance-able tracks such as One Twos / Run Run Run and Cash and Carry me Home making their mark this year, it would be very naive to say Ghostpoet doesn’t stand a chance of coming out on top.


Gwilym Simcock – Good Days At Schloss Elmau

Gwilym Simcock - Good Days At Schloss Elmau

If Gwilym Simcock won the Mercury Prize for best album – that would be a pretty huge surprise. Simcock is a long way out of the most people’s musical radars – and although as a musician Simcock is one of the most incredible pianists around this has to be the biggest surprise on the nominee shortlist. Perhaps we don’t have the winner here, but it’s impossible not to admire the musicianship of this jazz pianist – truly keeping traditional styles alive and acting as a new-era pioneer of British Jazz.


James Blake – James Blake

James Blake - James Blake

When it comes to electronic innovation, James Blake must be the leading figure of the year. Blake, originally with Limit To Your Love changed many peoples perceptions of bass music and dubstep completely; with his unique addition of vocal manipulation that works beautifully both on his self-titled EP and on-stage. In the space of 12 months Blake has gone from producing at home to playing at some of the worlds biggest festival. It’s a crazy achievement, and completely deserving of appraise. James Blake must be one of the more likely artists to pick up tonight’s top spot.


Katy B – On A Mission

Katy B - Katy B

Although she hasn’t had the same impact or financial comfort that Adele’s gained this year; there’s no doubt that Katy B‘s take on popular music has played a big part in it’s progression towards the urban, bass prominent sounds of 2011. With help from dubstep producer, and part of supergroup Magnetic Man, Katy has released several urban anthems that have brought the sounds of suburban London into the British spotlight for all to see.


King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine

Another surprise but fantastic nomination is the collaborative album between King Creosote and Jon Hopkins, Diamond Mine. The beautiful voice of King Creosote has had airplay from the likes of BBC 6 Music over the past year, but generally this is an artist that doesn’t get the deserved level of recognition. Real name Kenny Anderson, through King Cresote Anderson has encaptured everything beautiful about his surroundings in Fife, Scotland and exerted them through a selection of beautiful acoustic tracks – backed by brilliant productions from Jon Hopkins.


Metronomy – The English Riviera

Metronomy - The English Riviera

2011 has seen the return of dance-tastic (yes, I went there) electro-pop outfit Metronomy. At times the boundary between silly and distorted can be a blur, but it’s completely clear that Metronomy are always 100% brilliant. The English Riviera is a progression on the earlier sounds of Pip Paine and the more successful Nights Out. By far the most successful of releases so far reaching #17 in the UK chart, The English Riviera is a demonstration of intriguing pop music – and yet another example of forward-thinking British musicianship.


PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

The hauntingly beautiful voice of PJ Harvey returns with Let England Shake – which, as the album suggests, is one of the most cultured and relevant British records of the past year. Let England Shake feels like a flash back to the past – a reflection on England’s roots and culture. Harvey’s expressed the importance of creating a completely different album to earlier releases, and she’s done exactly that. Reaching the top 10 spot in the UK and most of Europe’s album charts, Let England Shake focuses on England, but it isn’t an English record. It’s universal appeal could well push Harvey up to the top.


Tinie Tempah – Disc-Overy

Tinie Tempah - Disc-Overy

Innovative record of the year? Maybe not. But we can’t deny the fact that Tinie Tempah has pushed his take on Hip-Hop right to the top of the charts. Whether he’s the new messiah of hip-hop or one of those responsible for it’s demise is debatable, but his success isn’t. Despite his ridiculous name and almost chunder-worthy, self-glorified album art – few have made as much as an impact as Tinie in such a small space of time. There’s no doubt that Tinie will be in with a good chance of winning tonight – but it’s got to be said, we won’t be backing him this time.

Juffage - Semicircle



Released: June 6 2011

Genre: Post-Rock

Label: Function Records

Rating: 3.8/5


By: Chris Fishlock

Semicircle is one of the most unique albums released this year so far, with a sound so original it’s difficult to even label it with a genre.

The album is fairly short at just over half an hour but this is more than made up for by how fresh sounding the album is, after the music scene being filled by copycat bands it is very refreshing to find a musician who has created his own sound. Upon early listens of the album it is easy to dismiss it completely as a cluttered album of distorted sounds, but when you fully take the album in you really start to appreciate the creativeness of the album.

Rather than a collection of eight songs the album is more a collection of eight different soundscapes – giving a mix of multi-layered music and noise, much distortion with a mix of a variety of instruments (such as acoustic guitar and piano) as well as vocals hidden within the wall of noise Juffage has created.

Despite the massive overall distorted sound of Semicircle, it still sounds surprisingly rhythmic – showing that Juffage has carefully put together the album with a overall messy distorted sound but he has clearly taken care of the many layers in music on each track, from the clean sounding instruments and vocals to the layers of distorted synth noise. Juffage has taken what would seem an unmarketable style and has made it sound like he could be the next biggest thing.

By the end of Semicircle you start to become attached to it, with the slow violin and drum machine opening of highlight track HHV, even when only a small amount of layers are used the album still sounds brilliantly complicated yet calm at the same time.

Overall the album is incredibly creative and unique with an incomparable sound. The album has a great way of sucking you in and making you want to fall in love underneath the multi-layered sounds. The album is impressive and well thought out but it clearly is not for every music fan – but here the artist must be respected for creating his own sound and one can only wish every album was this original and we would have a much more exciting music industry.

Juffage – My Weakness