Monthly Archives: February 2014

Hashtag Music

Week Commencing 3rd March 2014

Single of the Week: OUT 3rd MAR

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Known for her emotional  Jar of Hearts debut in 2010 Christina Perri  is no stranger to a weepy ballad. Tissue at the ready Human is another tear-jerker about the vulnerable state you feel when you are let down by unconditional love. A soft slow start; the first 30 seconds comes across a little dreary but when Perri’s emotion  builds and peaks with the power lyric ‘I’m only Human’ this song really is effortless beauty.

This track will feature on her upcoming album Head or Heart released 11th March.

Album of the Week: OUT 3rd MAR 

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Following the success of Happy and 2013’s Pharrell feat with the”robots” of Daft Lucky he hits us with his inevitable comeback album GIRL.  Clinching collaborations with Miley & Justin Timberlake this album could quiet easily become a record breaking album release for this in-demand producer/artist. Finger snapping beats and positive vibes this 11 track collection will fill you with infectious summer love feeling.

Guaranteed, this album will have you skipping all the way to Finsbury Park for this year’s Wireless Festival where you can catch him perform alongside Ella Eyre, Iggy Azalea and Kanye West.

 Video of the Week: OUT NOW 

When FKA Twigs releases a video it’s a visual mastermind and her latest collaboration with LA R&B duo Inc is certainly not one to be overlooked. Transfixed by her haunting vocal the monochrome touch is a brilliant contrast from her earlier video, Water Me. Both unique and completely iconic London’s Tahliah Barnett aka FKA Twigs is one of the most spellbinding acts out there since Bjork.

Directed by Twigs and Nick Walker this desert based video ties beautifully with the soulful nature of this collaboration. Although this was an unexpected pairing the results speak for themselves!

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Leon Else

Leon Else

The WaterRats, 20th Feb 2014

**

Exactly a week ago, Leon Else opened for Bobby Whirlwind and Boy Names at The Water Rats in London’s Kings Cross. Tucked just behind London’s Scala where fellow Turn First Artist Dan Croll is due to perform next month, the intimate back room of this venue seemed the perfect spot for upcoming talent.
Known for his all-black get up, this tall, dark, handsome singer has recently scored himself a modelling contract with Next Models alongside best friend Laurel. Completing his stage look this time with an Al Capone Thriller hat, Leon had the Michael Jacko vibes flowing. Adding to his stage presence, it was the hot, sweaty, body thrusting which warmed up a lifeless crowd.
Aired on BBC Radio 1, Protocol was the obvious opener, but its the catchy hook  “Leave your heart at home” that warns the crowd that they could quite easily fall in love with his heart-tugging vocals if they aren’t careful. A solid and confident performer, he continued to spread the love with an up-lifting track It’s Us Against the World. Fandom in its early stages, it was cheers from his bestie who was the first to rally up some cheers as she yelled ‘I love you.’ As the title suggests, this fitting track could easily become their theme song as both young stars are set to conquer the music world at the same time.
Whilst individually each track had a great delivery, being unprepared by the order left this set a little dis-jointed. Showcasing vulnerability, strength and love, Leon’s range of songs in his 30 minute set will have you falling in love. But remember, there’s no need to let him know.
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Leon will be headlining Koko’s Club NME night on 7th March. Although it’s a bit of a late stage time of 1am, this will be the biggest show of his career to date and not to be missed.
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The Brits Pre Party

Conor Maynard

Brooklyn Bowl London, 18th Feb 2014

***

London’s coolest new venue has been built inside the O2 arena and with the option to bowl and watch live music at the same time Brooklyn Bowl is probably the most genius idea out there.  Scheduled to play at the 2014 Brits Pre Party were George Barnett, Lewis Watson and R&B heart-throb Conor Maynard.  Catching all the action live, this event was also streamed via Trammitter TV.

Maynaics were out in force as they gathered to watch him perform his first UK show of the year. A confident opening performance of Wiley collab Animal made the crowd go wild.  The frenzy continued as an energetic Conor rocked around the stage performing hits Can’t Say No, Turn Around and Vegas Girl.  Unnoticed technicalities he joked “I can finally hear myself now… I can hear my talent!” 

Rewinding to his Youtube days Conor performed a mellow mash up of Clean Bandit’s Rather Be and Craig David’s debut single Fill Me In. Giving the crowd chance to rest their vocals during his serenading,  Conor  quickly raised the tempo again for an ‘all singing all dancing’ performance of Pharrell’s smash single Happy.  Ear-piercing screams throughout its clear Mayniacs know how to fangirl off the rictascale.

Prepared to end on a high, latest single R U Crazy was the obvious end to a brilliant pre-party. Cheeky little moves, on stage banter and a falsetto that would make any girl weak at the knees Conor was a great choice of act to open Brit’s Week.

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Missing out on scoring a strike or two, I can’t wait for more artists to perform here in the near future.

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Hashtag Music

Week commencing 24th Feb 

Single of the Week : OUT NOW 

Ivan

Granted a little late to make single of the week, I couldn’t bypass the opportunity to feature Ivan & Alyosha’s single Running For Cover.  Critically acclaimed in the US this charming 4-piece band has now brought their sound to the UK.

Coming from the Washington state the band mixes classic American pop and indie folk together for a more contemporary feel.  Generating a sense of unity the harmonies make for a solid debut and with a UK tour with Twin Fork (featuring Chris Carrabba, formally of Dashboard Confessional) scheduled for next month these guys are well worth a listen.

Album of the Week: OUT 24th Feb 

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Following suit from Beyoncé, Avril Lavigne and The Civil Wars St Vincent aka Annie Clark is next in line to release an eponymous album.  Challenging boundaries St Vincent leaves her sweet soulful pop voice behind for a ruthless and more psychedelic edge.  The lead single Birth In Reverse begins with the soon to be infamous line “Oh what an ordinary day / Take out the garbage, masturbate.” Guitar heavy this electric banger is super catchy and beautifully crafted.

 “I want to make a party record you could play at funeral” says Clark. Take a listen to St Vincent and give us your verdict on this press release caption.    

Video of the Week: OUT NOW

Full of neon colour and Egyptian themed Brit Awards performance Katy Perry drops her video for Dark Horse just 24 hours later. A dab hand at role-plays as a Bride, Alien and an elderly lady Katy’s latest adventure is playing Queen of Egypt she calls Katy-Patra!

Giving ancient Egypt a modern twist fashion forward Katy Perry gives herself a blinged out grill, elaborate clothing and various hair dos. Featured on her 4th Studio album Prism Dark Horse acts as follow up from her smash hit Roar and her top 20 track Unconditionally.

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Salt Ashes

Salt Ashes

Hoxton Bar & Grill, 19th Feb 2014

**

Newest discovery of the year so far is Brighton born Veiga Sanchez. Hitting my radar through recommendations from Popjustice and House of 27, it was her sha-mazing pop name Salt Ashes that I found intriguing. Keen to see her in a live setting I went along to her first live performance of 2014 at Hoxton’s Bar & Grill.
Clashing with the Brit Awards this evening unfortunately didn’t achieve the turnout it deserved, however Salt Ashes struck gold with a small crowd that were simply there to enjoy the music and soak up the atmosphere. Fixated by the use of two microphones, all black get up and war paint smeared across one cheek Sanchez gave a short but captivating set.
Working on her soundscape for the last year, Somebody released last week is the first official cut. Although this song didn’t make an appearance until mid-set, the wow factor was instant. Soaring up the register to hit some unworldly notes, Sanchez’s hidden vocal range reminded me of The X Factor moment when judge Nicole Scherzinger belted out I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston. Although on par vocally, Sanchez and Scherzinger’s music are worlds apart.
With her self- proclaimed obsession with Giorgio Moroder it is no wonder her debut is filled with rich disco synths, layered with her echoing hook ‘Somebody take me away’. Keeping the set upbeat she decided to leave out B-side track, Little Dove, in favour of unknown tracks. With no introductions to these choices the crowd were left guessing (unless you happened to follow her on Instagram where she later posted a set list).
Aside from Somebody, Chemical Rush captured my attention with its nuances and catchy hook, before bringing her dark infused electro pop to a ground breaking finale with Landslide. Granted I’m no Simon Cowell, it’s a thumbs up from me.

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Charity Gig

Lawson & Nina Nesbitt 

Indigo O2, 13th Feb 2014

***

On Thursday night Lawson and Nina Nesbitt performed at Indigo O2 to help raise funds for the Charlton Athletic Community Trust and Help a Capital Child and Trust Youth Service Ambassador and Capital Breakfast presenter Dave Berry hosted the event.

Eager to take the stage for their first show of 2014 was headliners Lawson. Five headline tours and support slots with The Wanted, Jessie J and Avril Lavigne these four boys have been non-stop since their debut album Chapman Square. Marking the occasion with a bang Lawson told fans on social-networking site Twitter they would perform a new song.

In just seconds the crowd were putty in their hands as the beat to Juliet started and Adam Pitts, Joel Peat, Ryan Fletcher and lead singer Andy Brown took to the stage for a one hour set. Guitars riffs filled the venue as they blasted out their full catalogue of singles; When She Was Mine, Taking Over Me, Learn to Love Again and Standing in the Dark.

Getting into the Valentines spirit, Andy dedicated Learn to Love Again to anyone searching for love. Pulling on the crowd’s heart strings some more they continued with tracks from their repackaged album Chapman Sq II including Parachute, Love Locked Out, Brokenhearted and Back to Life.

 

Luckily having seen this band live 17 times it was easy to spot Back to Life was the new song. Despite being disappointed this was not exclusive new material, Lawson’s on stage presence brought this new addition alive.

The wait is almost over for 19-year-old Nesbitt as she is set to release her debut album Peroxide on Monday.  Complete with her staple blonde locks and guitar Nesbitt opened with her biggest hit single to date Stay Out.  The female equivalent of Ed Sheeran, this folksy half-Scottish, half Swedish beauty has the like-ability factor and then some.

Worlds away from her previous job at River Island, Nina explained she hated working in retail and hoped her next song would encourage people to pursue dreams.  Way of the World is an uplifting homage to finding her way as a singer but unfortunately the lyrics don’t hold enough substance for being inspirational.

Keen to showcase The Hardest Part in an intimate venue she warned the crowd she needed silence before she could proceed. With the room so silent you could hear a pin drop, she delivered a controlled yet delicate performance that the song deserves.

After previewing a few more new lighter tracks, Peroxide and Selfies, Nesbitt ended on a little festival number – Brit Summer.

Overall the evening was a success and hopefully Lawson, Nina Nesbitt and the rest of performers managed to hit, if not exceed, last year’s total of £60,000.

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Hashtag Music

Week Commencing 17th Feb 2014

Single of the Week: OUT 17th Feb 

Salt-Ashes-Somebody

Love Kylie Minogue?  … then you’re gonna love 22 year old Brighton lass Veiga Sanchez.

First drawn in by her oh so brilliant stage name Salt Ashes, adoration rocketed after hearing Somebody. Acting as her debut single this killer track’s blend of electronic production and dark trance vocals makes it a perfect track for body grooving!

B-side Little Dove wipes away the Kylie comparison by showcasing a more breathy sound that will have you wanting to float away. This emerging talent is relevant, edgy and mysterious!

Album of the Week: OUT 17th Feb

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A lame attempt at bringing 2013’s Word of the Year ‘Selfie’ into a song, throwaway pop song Selfies didn’t put me off testing hotly anticipated debut album Peroxide.

Brushing cheap connotations of the title to one side, Nina gives us a bright collection of songs touching on lust, exes and nights out than any young teen can relate to.  Although lyrically it does not push boundaries Nina manages to provide some great nuggets of catchy folk-pop.  Favourites include title track Peroxide and the beautiful ballad The Hardest Part, not to mention the return of already released EP Tracks The Apple Tree and Don’t Stop included on the deluxe edition.

Video of the Week: OUT NOW 

Already scored 3 weeks at No1 with her feature on Clean Bandit’s track Rather Be new girl Jess Glynne wastes no time in going solo as she drops visuals for debut track Home.

No crazy gimmicks or controversial shots this simplistic video is all you need to be hooked. Glynne’s infectious voice and grit sprung from nowhere at the start of 2014 and just can’t get enough! Make sure this girl is on your radar!

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Chasing Grace and Friends

Chasing Grace

The Social, 10th Feb 2014

***

Last week Little Portland street’s The Social welcomed Chasing Grace for their month long residency. Seeing this duo for a 3rd time may seem excessive but with illnesses always catching the better of them it’s been hard to fully absorb their talent. Discovering Grace Ackerton and Phil Plested via their collaboration with Naughty boy, opting for round 2 of their 4 show spectacular seemed a promising favourite as it included a DJ set from the man himself as well as performances from Hotel Cabana star Tanika.

Don’t let Monday fool ya was the catchphrase left by Tanika on her Twitter straight after the event and here’s why we think she’s on point.

Bringing her hooker heels and killer dress to the stage Tanika performed a short but by no means forgettable set.  The crowd instantly warmed to her confident R&B Soul that filled the room during her opener Bad 4 U.

Love gets the better of us all at some point in our lives but it’s heartbreak many artists find themselves touching on when it comes to song-writing.  Conveying sorrow for an ex Tanika gave a heartfelt performance of Get Gone before unleashing her anger and frustration with a full blown swearing session during Fucking With My Heart. Although sung with conviction Fucking With My Heart was a little too brash and would have better left out of the set in favour of her new track Finally Found It. Ending on Freedom, a track written about her sister’s declaration of love of women had the crowd eating out the palm of her hand for touching on what many see as a delicate issue.

Being headliners and host didn’t seem to work as Chasing Grace took to the stage with little fuss. However as soon as Grace’s vocals on So Strong kicked in their low key entrance was quickly brushed aside and everyone’s eyes were locked on them.  Clear from the off Grace & Phil’s vocals do gel well together but there’s no shying away that it’s Ackerton’s deep London accent that carries the band.

Creating variety for those who had come last week they explained they would switch the cover of their set, this week they performed a stunning version of Drake ft Rihanna Take Care.  Picking a song that had already two parts was a clever move and subsequently an impressive choice.

Lifting the tempo definite crowd pleasers were Another Type of Love and Runaway. A call and response tactic for Runaway worked marvellously as the crowd clapped along to the sound of the beat similar to Mumford & Sons.  Atmosphere at its peak Grace and Co jumped around the stage but cheekily one band member took things a little too far when he asked the crowd to take pictures for his Facebook!

Previously on tour with British songstress Ellie Goulding they concluded their set with a peculiar cover of her latest single Goodness Gracious.  Cover songs are all about having fun with a track that is not your own but unfortunately the vibe that shines through in Ellie’s version was lost in translation. This dampened what had previously been a jolly affair and given the success of Runaway would make for better encore for the future shows.

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Don’t let Monday fool ya… Get down to The Social this Monday to see Chasing Grace and some more of her talented friends for round 3!

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Hashtag Music

Week commencing 10th Feb 2014

Single of the Week: OUT 9th Feb 

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Recent Grammy winner Zedd is back with his brand new track Stay the Night starring Paramore’s frontwomen Hayley Williams. Admittedly not a Paramore fan at heart, this track’s controlled synth work dips in all the right places for Williams’s vocal to effortlessly fill the space without overpowering it to into rock anthem.

If you are a fan of the EDM scene Zedd is a name that will crop up a lot more this year. Previously Zedd has produced tracks for Justin Bieber and biggest Lady of Pop Lady Gaga.

Album of the Week: OUT 10th Feb

littlered

The lights are firmly switched on when it comes to Katy’s new album Little Red.  Full of fiery dupstep and club-pop this collection of songs has some perfect floor fillers.

Undeniably catchy What Love is Made Of (which sadly does not feature) and 5am had us hyped, but it’s her latest single Crying for No Reason that really captured our attention.  A delicate ballad showcasing her vulnerability is truly her best work yet.

Mixing emotion and club vibes Katy will have you want to dance no matter your mood. Watch this space, Katy B is set to shine brighten than ever!

Video of the Week: OUT NOW 

What would you do with a tenner?

Sons and Lovers’ dear friend and talented photographer/director Pip decided to make a video!

This sheer cinematographic skill was however created with no music in mind. Challenging to say the least, Sons & Lovers deserve credit for making music the unconventional way.

This week the boys embarked on their Satellite Tour alongside Eliza and the Bear & Fred Page which is a new circuit spanning to some of the deepest corners of the UK.  Having already been on tour with Ellie Goulding and Imagine Dragons it’s nice that this foursome have a wonderful new track to share on this circuit.

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MTV Brand New: Kwabs, Joel Compass & Sam Smith

Music newest creme of the crop hit Islington assembly hall last night for round 2 of MTV’s Brand New, hosted by Emporio Armani

The boys takeover included Kwabs, Joel Compass & Brit’s Critic Choice winner Sam Smith.

Venue half full and short sets, giving just a flavour of their artistry meant the atmosphere was a little hit & miss!

Burning African soul & R&B Singer Kwabs was first to warm up this intimate space with his 2013 soundcloud hit Spirit Fade.

Ready for release this week is his EP, Wrong or Right personally didn’t have enough spice to capture my attention.

Attire fit for all weather, Compass’s flowery fashion forward Hawaii shorts & coat combination was certainly memorable.

Nervous and production so loud it drowned him out, needless to say the sound was terrible.

Delivery aside what really shines here is how on point his material is, a particular favourite was a dance number called Drop Me Out & first single Run.

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Naughty boy’s single feat Sam Smith was an instant crowd pleaser as he signaled everyone to sing along to his well-earned 1st number one, reminding us just how far he’s come

Ear to ear grins and a sparkle in his eye, confidence was in full bloom as he talked about his recent appearance at The Grammys

Work is needed by all 3 artists to full craft their stage performances. Based on merit of talent rather than the dismal sound quality MTV’s choice of acts have been pretty savvy!

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(Set List: Kwabs : Save, Last Stand, Spirit Fade, Wrong Or Right, Perfect Ruin)

(Set List: Joel Compass: Kiss Love, Forgiveness, F**ed Up, Drop Me Out, Blank Space, Run)

(Set List: Sam Smith:  Nirvana, Together, Leave Your Lover, Latch, Money On my Mind, La La La, Lay Me Down, Stay With Me)

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