Tag: You Me At Six

It’s Album Time: You Me At Six – Night People

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You Me At Six seem like nice lads. Having broken through in 2008 they’ve shifted away from their earlier Emo-laced sound into a sound that straddles rock, pop and pop punk. They interview well, have a loyal fan base and – with 2014’s Cavalier Youth, achieved a first number one album in the UK.

In a period when rock music in Britain has stagnated at the top – plenty of festivals that were previously rock’s purview have shifted towards dance and more credible pop acts, whilst nostalgic acts have often been preferred to up-and-coming acts – YMAS have successfully established themselves in the upper-middle tier of bands. Not quite main stage headliners, but top of the second stage or towards the end of the day on the main stage.

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Night People feels like YMAS’s pitch for promotion. Recorded in Nashville, Tennessee with producer Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, James Bay, Of Monsters and Men) it has the whiff of a band trying to sound grown-up. The title track opens the album and has a blues-infused guitar riff; an intended statement of intent with a sexy and seductive undercurrent, it ends up plodding along to its conclusion.

The album has plenty of smart guitar licks and radio-friendly influences. Brand New is the apple that hasn’t strayed too far from the Kings of Leon tree; Take on the World almost strays into Coldplay territory – euphoric lift in the middle and all – and Heavy Soul is cast from the Fall Out Boy mould.

But the album feels hollow. Whilst it comes in at a pithy 35 minutes – to be applauded! – It’s 35 minutes of inauthenticity. You can hear the desperation to be liked, the need to stay relevant, and – most tellingly – the burning desire to finally make it to headliner status.

The biggest tells are the constant ‘woooaah’s’ littered throughout the album and the sing-a-long choruses that accompany the band, irrespective of the style that has preceded it. However much they start to swim in a new direction, the big catchy chorus is the sound of them wading back to the land of familiarity and comfort.

The disappointment is magnified by the glimpses of what might have been. Listen carefully and you can hear a band who sound like they want to make a more menacing and darker album; Can’t Hold Back [chorus aside] and Spell It Out both demonstrate signs of a band with interesting ideas – the latter is my favourite on the record – and it’d be great to hear them ditch the pop-friendliness for an album and fully commit to the dark side.

There are many reasons I wanted to like this album. I want more British rock bands to succeed; I want ‘new’ music to be centre-stage at festivals and – as mentioned they seem like good guys. But Night People isn’t so much a change in direction as a panic-attack at a crossroads.

These Night People sound less likely to prowl the streets or hit a rave at 3am than to go out for a nice Italian meal with a couple of glasses of wine before rushing home to catch Match of the Day.

 

Ramblings: On Field Day, Films, Foals and Black Foxxes

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No sooner am I done getting excited about getting tickets to see Run The Jewels than Field Day release the awesome news that RTJ will be closing the main stage on the 3rd June.

Field Day is an interesting festival; every year the lineup feels a little obscure and unfamiliar but they have a tremendous habit of sensing where music is going, rather than celebrating where it is right now. Last year’s festival was unbelievably wet and muddy, but sets by the Black Madonna, Bicep, Yeasayer, Four Tet, John Grant and Jackmaster were too good for any weather problems to leave me feeling anything other than elated.

This year they’ve consolidated the festival into one day, and the line up largely has that familiar ‘music to be discovered’ feel. I’m a big fan of Haelos and Run The Jewels, and I’m looking forward to Clams Casino, Moderat and Algerian rockers Imarhan. But the great thing about Field Day is the trust you can have in the bookers; whatever stage you end up watching you’ll be seeing something interesting and fresh.

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January seems to be the season for festival lineup announcements. I saw Leeds & Reading Festival(s) post on Twitter today that they’re due to announce some acts this week, SW4 have announced Deadmau5 – in addition to the recent revelation that Pendulum will be reforming – as headliners and Citadel today announced Foals in a UK festival exclusive. I’m not sure I’ll be able to avoid the lure of Foals…

Onto domestic matters and I’m delighted that Antonia and George have made their debuts on the site. Antonia’s excellent review of Manchester by the Sea can be found here and George has the world of LPs covered; It’s Album Time will be a regular feature and kicks off with Bonobo’s Migration here.

Astral Penguins will – initially – primarily be a music blog, but I’d love it to become a place where those who love culture and want to read thoughtful opinions and passion about different fields can visit. George and Antonia bring with them lifetimes of passion and knowledge and it is my pleasure to give them an outlet.

Finally I got a Songkick notification today telling me that Black Foxxes are supporting You Me At Six at their forthcoming Alexandra Palace gig. I’m a big fan of BF and had the pleasure of seeing them last year. Their debut album was one of the most assured and interesting first releases of 2016 and I’m delighted that they’re getting the opportunity to play to a wider audience. Good luck to them.

I’ll be back this evening with a Track of the Day and tomorrow we’re debuting a new feature on cover songs. Until later…

Mark

 

 

The A List: 15th January

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Introducing The A List: my favourite 10 tracks at the moment.

Every Sunday I’ll be posting a new A List, and it’ll give you an insight into what I’m loving right now. I’ve implemented a couple of rules (at the bottom, if you’re interested), but this is mostly a chance for me to take stock of what tracks are working for me – and why.

Early January is often a pretty quiet time for new music, but with new albums from You Me At Six and The XX, and new singles from London Grammar, Ed Sheeran and others, there’s been plenty to listen to.

Here is this week’s A List:

1. Army of Bones – Don’t Be Long

An unexpected indie treat. The lead singer in AoB was in the Christian rock band Delirious? and Don’t Be Long is obviously from musicians with a fine idea of what makes a good track. Strong pulsing guitars and a polished melody makes this a fine January listen.

2. Ed Sheeran – Shape of You 

First Friday of January and Ed Sheeran re-stakes his claim to be pop’s number one man. He released two singles that have broken all sorts of streaming and sales records, taken numbers 1 and 2 in the UK charts and helped to shake off the January blues. Shape of You was easily my favourite of the two singles; it’s a straight up pop banger with the same confident swagger that Bieber, Major Lazer and others have recently demonstrated (often with Sheeran-penned songs). That it was originally meant for Rihanna only makes me like it more.

3. Code Orange – Bleeding in the Blur

A nice chunk of dirty rock and roll, with waves of feedback and a dark, menacing vibe. This is my first introduction to Code Orange, but I look forward to hearing more of their stuff.

4. Julien Baker – Funeral Pyre 

A desperately sad track that revolves around drinking gasoline and the impact that has on relationships. It’s a little haunting – especially her beautiful vocals – and seems to sit in that rather marvellous spot in between country, folk and acoustic rock.

5. Kiesza – Dearly Beloved 

I was a massive fan of Kiesza’s 2014 single Hideaway and the accompanying one-take video, so it’s great to have her back. Dearly Beloved is a cheesy cocktail with a small slice of funk thrown in. It walks the tightrope of ‘too cheesy/brilliant’ a little brashly, but it’s working for me at the moment.

6. VANT – DO YOU KNOW ME? 

A welcome re-release of DO YOU KNOW ME? A protest record in support of young people today. “I’m down, I’m tired, I’m broke, I wanted something more” they sing, and it’s clear from their Radio 1 plays that they’re striking a note with younger fans. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing VANT a few times in recent years – full disclosure, I was at the Scala gig that they filmed the DO YOU KNOW ME? video at – and they’ve really grown as a live band. Their debut album comes out in February and I fully expect them to be massive by the end of the year.

7. London Grammar – Rooting for You 

A rather beautiful and minimalist single marks the return of London Grammar. This track is all about the vocals; they soar in parts but betray a vulnerability matched with inner strength in the quieter moments. I went to see London Grammar a couple of years ago at Brixton Academy and it fell very flat, but hopefully with more songs – and some more experience of being on stage – they’ll be back bigger and better this time around.

8. You Me At Six – Spell It Out  

I’m going to write a longer piece on YMAS’s recent album later this week, but in my opinion Spell It Out is the record’s highlight, capturing a darker edge to the band and growing throughout. There’s some nice guitar work throughout and the transformation into Audioslave at the 2.30 mark is rather good fun.

9. Kehlani – Undercover 

I’ve gone back and forth on this track a few times. Part of me loves the slick r’n’b meets pop feel, a well-trodden path to the charts. But part of me dislikes the obviousness of the track, particularly the chorus. At the moment the first part of me is winning…

10. The XX – Say Something Loving

The XX are one of the very few bands I can think of that have yet to put a foot wrong. If you haven’t read it, you should check out the brilliant Pitchfork cover piece on the band and their new album, which you can find here

You can listen to all ten tracks here:

I’ve given myself a couple of rules:

  • I have to really like these tracks already. That usually means I’ll have given them 4 or 5 plays before they make it this far. If there is a lag between me posting a song and it appearing on here, that’s probably why.
  • Tracks can stay on the A List for a maximum of 4 weeks. I have a habit of overplaying records and then liking them less, and if I keep something in circulation for more than 4 weeks, that happens more regularly.