Podcast: Who will be representing Great Britain at Eurovision?

 

Songwriter James Newman was announced as the UK’s entry to Eurovision 2020 this week with his song titled ‘My Last Breath’. Adam Zawadzki and Suzanne Oliphant tell us their thoughts as well as all other things Eurovision.

Click the player below to tune in.

Gig Review: Lennon Stella at the SWG3

Lennon Stella performing at SWG3 in Glasgow Credit: Erin Kirsop

Lennon Stella made her first appearance on Scottish soil at the intimate SWG3 in Glasgow, performing in her first solo European tour.

Lennon has come a long way since her days as a teenager on the American TV show Nashville. Against all odds, Lennon has chosen to step away from her country music roots, instead dipping into the indie-pop genre.

Performing songs off her debut album, as well as new songs yet to be released, the show was a fantastic mix of music. Despite being her first appearance in Glasgow, the fans were with her all the way, singing along with every lyric.

Her support act, JP Saxe, was also widely popular with the crowd both during his opening gig and when he joined Lennon on stage to sing their co-written song ‘Golf on TV’.

In just under two hours, Lennon played covers, as well as throwing original tracks throughout her discography into the mix, each proving to be an absolute delight.

With more songs in the making, I and the rest of her fans sit tightly for another tour announcement. Until next time, Lennon.

Gorillaz, Carseat Headrest & Lady Gaga: The EN4 News Music Podcast

 

On this week of the EN4News Music Podcast, presenters Sonny Neil, Elise Kennedy & Neil McGlashan discuss some of this weeks hot releases, upcoming local gigs & festivals to keep an eye out for.

Click the player below to tune in.

 

Arts and Culture quiz of the week!

Shoot the Moon – The art of writing a painting

Glasgow based jazz ensemble Mezcla. (Credit: Mezcla)

With a sound that blends world music, Latin influences and traditional jazz, Mezcla have established themselves as one of the central characters of the new wave Scottish Jazz scene. Today, the Glasgow ensemble have released their eagerly awaited debut Shoot the Moon.

Band leader David Bowden met me in the laid-back hangout Glad Cafe to talk about the album’s sound, the inspiration behind some of the songs and his plans for the future.

After a sip of coffee and a bite of cake, David told me about the sound of the record: “It’s a development of what’s been heard before… this is kind of the culmination of everything we’ve done so far.”

“There’s definitely some Scottish influence there,” which led us onto how locations can act as inspiration. “Pieces can be more like vibes or moods… like a painting of a landscape, you can evoke that with instrumental music.”

After pausing for a second, Bowden disclosed, “Honestly jazz musicians often struggle naming tunes and then think ‘I like that place – let’s go with that!’”

Continuing on the topic of process: “Usually the ideas are not really connected to much, generally it’s stuff that just comes to me like a tune or a riff, that usually comes into my head when I’m trying to do something else,” adding, “I had one recently on the London underground where I sang it and then listening back, it’s all just the noise of the underground… without the chords, it’s sometimes just mindless babbling.”

Our conversation then shifted to plans for the future: “For the band, the hope is to get more festivals around the UK and touring Europe a bit more as we’ve yet to do that with this band.

“I’d like to put music out with the band more regularly,” concluding that he wants to “keep developing the sound more.”

We end on the upcoming tour, which begins with the album launch at London jazz club Vortex on the February 12, but David admits that the Glasgow gig will “spiritually and emotionally” feel like record’s opening.

To hear the full conversation listen to the track below:

SIX: “An unstoppable goldmine of talent”

SIX by Marlow and Moss, , Writer – Toby Marlow, Writer and Co-Director – Lucy Moss, Co-director – Jamie Armitage, Choreographer – Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, Sets – Emma Bailey, Costume Designer – Gabriella Slade, Malvern Theatres, 2019, Credit: Johan Persson

If the ex-wives of Henry VIII were to form a girl band, they’d be SIX – an unstoppable goldmine of talent.

The musical returned to Edinburgh, where it made its debut at the Fringe Festival in 2017.

Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, the show’s writers, add to the history lessons we got in school by going into details of the wives by making them the focal point of the story rather than “just one word in a stupid rhyme”.

Taking song styling inspiration from Beyonce and Adele, SIX focuses on if the wives formed a girl group.

The musical explores the stories of how the wives ended up with Henry VIII, and how they ended up divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.

The Spice Girls’ infamous girl power feminist angle plays a strong part in the concert-style musical, as there is a heavy focus that there is more to their story than being a wife to the king.

Catchy pop hits make you want to dance along, which contributes to the atmosphere that you would find at a concert. This is thanks to the backing band The Ladies in Waiting, who are on stage with the queens.

It turns the pop musical into a full-on concert spectacle, complete with elaborate dance routines.

The standout performance of Anne Boleyn (Madison Bulleyment) brings the fun-loving and sarcastic performance of ‘Don’t Lose Ur Head’. Adding to this, the sassy one-liners about losing her head throughout the performance certainly make for the show’s biggest laughs.

With a running time of 70 minutes, shorter than most musicals, it makes for a more consumable show for everyone.

Album Review: ‘Funeral’ by Lil Wayne

Returning to the limelight with his highly anticipated project ‘Funeral’, Lil Wayne may have secured another winner with his 13th studio album.

The New Orleans native first teased the album in 2016, before ceasing to reference it again until late 2019, when a coffin emoji appeared on his Instagram story. Now, just a week after its official announcement, ‘Funeral’ has landed.

The much anticipated ‘Funeral’ by Lil Wayne is out now. (Cover Art: Young Money Entertainment)

The album has been described by Wayne as a much different and more contemporary sound than its predecessor – 2018’s ‘Tha Carter V’.

The title track, backed by a symphony of string instruments that trips into a soft bass and snare, is a raw, emotionally-fuelled opening to the album. ‘Mahogany’ follows, which is a quick switch in tempo. Throughout a breathless delivery, Wayne is flawless over the trippy, hazed-out vocals that make up the instrumental.

Mixing sounds and moving with the times has never been an issue for Wayne. At least one successful album released in one of the last four decades proves the evergreen qualities that Wayne sports as an artist.

The third and fourth track are representative of this. Whilst ‘Mama Mia’ contains lyrics and a dark, metallic backing track that wouldn’t sound out of place in a SoundCloud rapper’s discography. ‘I Do It’ reminds one of a Gunna or Young Thug track. Containing the first features of the album, ‘I Do It’ features veteran Big Sean, who croons through the choruses, and Lil Baby, who provides a short, but sweet verse.

What follows are three tracks in succession, which differ tremendously in style, and flex Wayne’s various artistic capabilities. ‘Dreams’ is loud, aggressive and almost unhappy, whilst ‘Stop Playing With Me’ is a confident, fast-paced assurance of Wayne’s position in the hip-hop community, and his coolness on the mic. ‘Clap For Em’ contains another bass-heavy instrumental that feels very Latin-inspired with a sound that you’d expect to hear in a nightclub.

Jay Rock makes an appearance on ‘Bing James’, a track that for the most part, reminds one of something that Chief Keef or Lil Gnar may produce, in its autotuned, aggressive tones.

If ‘Bing James’ is the high, ‘Not Me’ is the comedown that follows, as it layers the listener’s ears with a sad, melancholic sound.

Adam Levine appears on ‘Trust Nobody’ – not a name you’d associate with Lil Wayne. As predicted, this track is a lot calmer, and more family-friendly, even containing a couple verses from bedtime prayer ‘Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep’.

The next four tracks are fairly strong, but not the most memorable from the album. 2 Chainz and Takeoff appear across two songs, but honestly, don’t really provide anything other than what you’d expect from them. ‘I Don’t Sleep’ is probably the better of the four, with a light-hearted instrumental, and a bouncy, fun delivery from Wayne.

Three features appear on the following four tracks – The-Dream, Lil Twist and the late XXXTENTACION. ‘Sights and Silencers’ is admittedly nothing spectacular, and whilst Lil Twist is a welcome introduction in ‘Ball Hard’, it’s ‘Get Outta My Head’ which piques interest. Lil Wayne compliments XXXTENTACION well on the track, which is actually a rework of ‘The Boy With The Black Eyes’ – a track that the latter originally recorded in 2016.

‘Piano Trap’ is a triumphant-sounding celebration of Wayne’s success, whilst ‘Line Em Up’ reintroduces the snares and rapid backing track we had a glimpse of earlier in the album. ‘Darkside’ is unfortunately fairly forgettable, but ‘Never Mind’, whilst not Wayne’s best track by any means, sticks to the new sound that he was trying to go for, and feels like it has a lot of replay value.

O.T. Genasis appears on the penultimate track ‘T.O.’, which is a wild journey from start to finish. An instrumental that feels wacky and all-over-the-place works its way behind a delivery from Wayne and O.T. that deals mostly in the ‘triplet flow’ that Migos popularised.

The final track on this album, ‘Wayne’s World’, is a good finish to an album that starts sombre and gradually works its way up. ‘Funeral’ was Wayne at the morgue, but ‘Wayne’s World’ is him sealing his resurrection and celebrating his return.

All in all, ‘Funeral’ is a strong album. Whilst it’s not Wayne’s best work to date, it certainly lives up to his promise of a more contemporary sound. Although he’s been on the scene since 1999, Wayne has been one of the quickest of the ‘old guard’ to adopt and work with this new sound that has developed in the 2010s.

The album is sombre and woeful at points, angry and in-your-face at others, and proud and dominant at others. Admittedly, there are tracks you may completely forget about post-album, but all things in consideration, Wayne has kicked off this new decade in an undoubtedly positive fashion.

4/5 STARS

Elderly Edinburgh woman, 83, living with dementia, climbs to No. 8 in the charts

Margaret Mackie (right) records her single with Jamie Lee Morley (Credit: Jamie Lee Morley)

An Edinburgh pensioner has made headlines after her cover of Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ broke into the iTunes chart, so far peaking at No. 8.

Margaret Mackie, originally from Linlithgow, suffers from dementia and often struggles to remember one day to the next. However, during the Christmas party at Northcare Suites Care Home, Margaret sang a rousing rendition of‘My Way’ without forgetting one single word.

A video of the 83-year-old singing with Jamie Lee Morley, the Butler at Northcare went viral on Facebook and was shared thousands of times.

Six weeks on, Margaret and Jamie recorded their cover of Sinatra’s hit and officially released the song as a charity single on January 15.

Screenshot 2020-01-17 at 16.06.32.png

‘My Way’ hits number 8 on iTunes Top 40 UK Pop Songs (Credit: iTunes)

With all royalties going to Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK, the single has been steadily climbing the charts and is currently at placed at number 7 on the iTunes chart.

Speaking to EN4 News, Jamie Lee Morley discussed the single’s recent success and his relationship with Margaret.

“I’ve got such a connection with her, I think it’s because we both love music as well, the minute she moved into the care home in October she used to go around the corridor singing and I’d go up to her and start singing with her,” he said.

“I would hold her hand with her and sing with her when I could see that she was getting a bit distressed or flustered. I just absolutely adore her, she melts my heart.

“There is a stigma around dementia and Alzheimer’s where people seem to think that once you’ve got this diagnosis your life is over and that’s not the case. Margaret has been living proof that she’s having the best time of her life right now with publicitiy and press and singles being in the charts.”

The single is available to buy and stream now on iTunes, Google, Spotify and Amazon.

Tracks of the week reviewed: Selena Gomez, Shimmer, Soccer Mommy and The 1975

This week we’ve got husky come-backs, young protégés and a blast from the past.

Rare (Album) – Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez released her third album this week.

This is her first bit of music since 2015 after taking five years out to focus on her physical and mental wellness. Gomez is a sufferer of lupus and has had to undergo chemotherapy to treat it.

Throughout the album these subject matters are the major themes. However it is still an overwhelmingly upbeat album. It’s a real celebration of resilience and growth.

As a musician Selena’s main challenge has always been mastering her voice. It’s very low and understated. This album works so well as it sticks to intimate contemplation rather than attempting bravado.

And I Revel  (Album) – Shimmer

Shimmer’s new album is being described as “loud, messy and wrong”.

But don’t get that confused for it being bad. It’s receiving outstandingly high scores from music critics at the exact same time.

The quartet who have all previously individually been involved in other more “traditional” rock bands said they had became tired of “conforming to the norm” and banded together to create something different.

And this record is exactly that – experimental and utterly unique.

Circle the Drain (EP) – Soccer Mommy

22-year-old singer songwriter Sophie Allison, or better known as Soccer Mommy, dropped her latest EP this week.

Allison is in a league of a powerful growing crop of assertively independent female musicians – often opening shows for the likes of Vampire Weekend and Paramore.

Paramore’s Haley Williams even went as far as saying she felt like a proud big sister watching Sophie push through the “male dominated indie rock scene.”

This EP is packed full of vocals so silky that you almost overlook the sorrow inside the tales she sings of managing her own sadness.

These four songs are only the beginning as well with the rest of her album due to be released on February 28. Soccer Mommy is definitely someone to watch.

Me and You Go Together (Single) – The 1975

The latest 1975 single came out on Thursday. Me and You Go Together is an upbeat love song that many speculate is dedicated to FKA Twigs.

Back in August was the last time the band released a single. The song ‘People’ shocked many fans. It’s loud, screamy, emo and very angry. Quite off-brand for the band and it led to a lot of speculation to whether all their new releases would have a similar sound.

However Me and You Go Together seems to revert back into a pretty standard The 1975 pop record.

So if you’re a fan of traditional 1975 sounds then you’re in luck! But if you were looking forward to hearing their more unapologetic song-making style you might have to wait until their next record.

Listen to any of the songs we’ve included in this article below!

The return of National Album Day: What it’s about and what’s on

A year on from its successful debut, National Album Day is set to return on October 12, with celebrations being held throughout the UK.

Teaming up with BBC Sounds –  who are supporting the day as an official broadcast partner – several events and activities have been set up to highlight the UK’s love of the album.

‘Don’t Skip’ is this year’s theme, encouraging music fans to listen to albums both new and old in full, in order to appreciate the entire body of work. This theme also serves to highlight the mental health benefits of listening to albums, which are said to provide listeners with a sense of musical mindfulness.

Several of the UK’s most prominent artists have signed up as ‘album champions’ in support of this years campaign, including No. 1 artist Lewis Capaldi, Mercury Prize winners Elbow, BRIT award nominee Mahalia and international producer/musician Mark Ronson.

Mahalia said she was supporting National Album Day to feel a sense of nostalgia.

“I see myself as an ‘album artist’, which in my world means timeless music that you don’t skip past,” she said.  “I want to make whole pieces of work that other little girls like me find comfort in listening to; a 40 to 60 minute dreamland where they can be away from the world. That’s why I’m supporting National Album Day. Streaming has changed everything. I want the kids younger than me to feel about albums how I did.”

 

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The continuing impact of the album

Despite the musical landscape being in a state of constant flux, albums have secured a high popularity in the UK, maintaining a strong cultural and economic relevance. As reported by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) earlier this year, 143 million albums or their equivalent were either streamed, purchased or downloaded in the UK in 2018, an amount that is worth approximately £1.3 billion in retail, and representing a near 6% rise on the year before. As part of this, 4.2 million vinyl LPs were sold, a 2000% rise since their low point in 2007 and the 11th year of consecutive growth for the medium.

An ERA tracking study in May 2018 provides further evidence of the formats continuing relevance, which showed that nearly 60% of respondents listened to in album in full a month prior to taking the survey. Despite the belief that albums are associated with older music consumers, the research suggested that younger fans were far more likely to have listened to an album with 55% of those polled aged 25 or below saying they had listened to an album in the previous week. In comparison only 45% of 45-54 year olds and 33% of those aged 55 and above could say the same.

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In addition, recent studies have also highlighted the positive mental health benefits of listening to albums. A survey conducted in August this year specifically commissioned for National Album Day found that around 80% of participants use albums to relax and around 70% listened to Albums when they were feeling down or considered them a source of comfort.

Author and academic Dr Julia Jones said listening to an album helps listeners get away from the stresses of our daily lives.

“We’ve been aware of the scientific evidence regarding the positive effects of music on the brain and body for decades,” Dr Jones said. “We also know that taking ‘time out’ of our hectic schedules is essential to maintain our well-being. So the album offers a perfect recipe for delivering the cocktail of neurochemical and physiological benefits, while also ensuring we enjoy an extended break.”

 

What To Expect From National Album Day

In commemoration of the event, HMV has procured a list of 26 albums to be released as coloured vinyls on Oct. 11, just in time for National Album Day. This varied lineup features Queen, Lady Gaga and Mumford & Sons.

Each record will be available in HMV stores and are available for preorder online. For a full list of vinyls on offer be sure to check out the National Album Day website, here.

In addition, as part of Scotland’s celebrations, HMV Ocean Terminal will be hosting will be playing host to live music on the day, featuring local artists Acid Club, Screamin’ Whisper and Liam Clayton.

Outside of Scotland, a touring exhibition has been making the rounds throughout the UK, celebrating the variety of sounds within the country. After making several stops throughout the UK’s rail including Glasgow and Manchester throughout the month of September, the exhibition’s final stop will be in London with the event lasting until Oct. 19.

In terms of radio, BBC Sounds will be acting as the Official broadcaster for National Album Day, providing programming throughout the BBC Network.

For a comprehensive list of events throughout the UK be sure to click here for more information via the National Album Day website.

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