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My guilty pleasure.

Well, I don’t think this is necessarily my own guilty pleasure. This may very well be a guilty pleasure everyone shares. My guilty pleasure is pop music. Cheesy, catchy and damn-eternal-sunshine-pop. Happiness comes in many forms for me. Rock music gives me an unwarranted thrill and chaos that no other genres provides. Jazz makes me relaxed and complacent, and intrigues my musical mind into how it is composed. Metal is a mind of its own and does whatever it wants to do to its listeners. But, pop … pop gives me a feeling of happiness that is unparalleled with the rest. Worthy for a good sing-a-long or the fastest way for a cheer-up, bright pop music brings unbridled joy. Despite the connotations that pop has from those certain listeners, you can’t not enjoy pop for what it’s worth. Whether it’s the comprised electronic pop, bubblegum pop, indie-pop, or just the downright “I shouldn’t really be listening to this” pop, we have all our favourites – what’s yours?

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Alt-J: The World of Experimental Sound

Subtle eccentrics of indie rock with complacent sound-experiments, bring Alt-J into the spotlight as critically acclaimed and award-winning.

An Awesome Wave

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Alt-J: a name raised from the delta symbol that is made when hitting Alt and J on a Mac keyboard, their smoothie blend of folky dub-pop became their signatory work and was first brought to attention in such singles, Matilda and Fitzpleasure in 2012.

Oddly arranged in structure and the ample choosing of percussion, we were pleasantly surprised to find out they had done a full-length debut album using those same sounds.

An Awesome Wave was released in the same year of 2012, and amassed a worthy following instantly –

including myself.

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Being one of the first to purchase the album via iTunes … trailing through the Earth’s atmosphere or merely jumping amongst cityscapes with your earbuds in … is how I would describe Alt-J’s music tellings.

Musically, it’s simple but it’s genuinely clever.

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Doing something that hadn’t really been done anything on this scale before – certainly not from an original quartet of artists – An Awesome Wave allowed them to earn their first prestigious Mercury Prize in the world of music – not to mention three nominations from the The Brit Awards.

With a 14-piece artwork that does not require a single skip – favourites including Something Good and Dissolve Me – it has soon become a staple of this pleasurable folk-indie vibe sort of music.

Its such a rarity to explore experimental sounds, odd in structure and percussion to deliver such an album that resonated with so many people. I think the sheer simplicity of it and the ever-so-present relaxing setting you get in there music has been there from day one. Wherever the band manages to end up on their next work, their art of morbid curiosity is a sight to behold.

This is All Yours

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Despite the temperament changing in the Alt-J camp after the bassist of Gwil Sainsbury’s departing in 2013, they remained true to their colours and followed up with their second, This is All Yours, in 2014.

Rhythm and space were their desired bread and butter – and that certainly didn’t change or deter at all with this follow-up.

Whilst This is All Yours did not share the same involvement concerning numbers or critical acclaim compared to that of the first, it just so happened to feature elements of extended beauty in songs that stretched for more minutes, which left the band to experiment more, without the worry of having to hold back to suit the status quo with the dreaded second album. It hinted at moments from their debut, with playful Left Hand Free and Every Other Freckle

… but also hinted at a changing landscape for the band, a maturity to their music, almost. Elluring two-parter, Arrival in Nara and Nara, which draws up a playing time of 9 minutes, allowed the band to create conceptual moments that translated well in a far deeper song structure. Overall, This is All Yours had an 8-minute longer playing time than An Awesome Wave, but you could say had a deeper meaning behind it.

Relaxer

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In early 2017, they soon departed ways with their vibrant colours and approached their third studio album with a somewhat darker presence, with the release of the trio 3WW, In Cold Blood and Adeline in 2017. Same year, in June? Enter, Relaxer.

Although short in a track listing of just eight, it certainly makes up for its playtime of 38 minutes. Although not doing as successful as the prior two, Relaxer is a diluted version of their sounds – but nonetheless equally ambitious. House of the Rising Sun and Deadcrush are beautiful moments that I will always wish were longer, despite them being long enough as they are.

It may also feature future sounds that we may expect to hear from their potential fourth studio album? Last Year and Pleader delves into far more traditional sounds of other orchestral instruments – including the uproar of a choir during the lasting moments in Pleaser – and even has a female vocalist adding elements into the fold that we hadn’t really heard of before.

Whatever they have in store for us in the coming year or so, I’m sure it’s set to be a delight for all of us.

Equally delightful in sound and presentation, Alt-J are a folk-inflected, indie-smooth topping that is perfect for any casual music listener.

Give their track-load a listen below.

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One Big Year: The Snuts

A ferocious year.

Record deals.

Ad campaigns.

International partnerships.

Released in April this year, their debut album reflects on humble beginnings, emotional dreams, and have since become one of the most exciting and vital bands of the new decade.

But after catching their big break; was it simply the luck of the draw? What makes them grab a number one at debut level as opposed to the thousand other artists who just … don’t?

Above all else, I think it majorly just falls down to the band being in the right place at the right time.

Their debut album, W.L, which was released on the 2nd of April this year, has elements of a perfect music fairytale. The album brings glossy, flourished and instantly catchy indie-rock hooks that resonate with the grandeur of UK music. Even future classics, Elephants and Juan Belomonte make you hesitate and think to yourself, “have I heard this before?,” with them being prominent in style and pizzazz. But for this story, it is more than likely you have listened to this before, yes.

After grabbing ad campaign success with beer powerhouses, Strongbow and titans of sports, Electronic Arts within the FIFA21 soundtrack, it is safe to say you’ve heard the sound of The Snuts before one way or another. Now, challenging the top spot with their debut, they’ve reached unfathomable heights in such a short span of time.

When a band skyrockets like they’ve done, it’s always important to think why. That way, once you get an understanding of how they’ve managed to grow so emphatically, our favourable bands and artists with similar music goals, can simply do the same.

Now, I know it’s easier said than doe per se, as the industry is as unpredictable as the UK weather, but it shows the precedent of how the music industry works and how us as consumers work. It makes me want to spit and squabble at the music industry with how it works internally because, there will be music artists who are just as talented, just as hard-working and dedicated to the cause, and they will not reach the same numbers as The Snuts would do in the span of the year they had. Hell, in the same in five years.

Truth be told, their music is delightfully fun, catchy and downright remarkable if you’re a fan of other indie-dwellers like Blossoms and The Amazons. But it’s not overly complicated or showing anything we haven’t heard of anything before, in fact – it’s quite simple. It’s just tapping into the right audiences, the right “holes” so to speak, and us as consumers will do the rest and play the music.

It’s simply sharing our love for an upcoming UK band among our friends because we’re proud of our music. A Scottish band, no doubt.

A popular trend-setting cause people can willingly get behind. #SNUTSFORNUMBERONE. The proof is in the pudding.

If the four lads from Whitburn pull this off, they will become the first Scottish band to deliver a number one debut album in 14 years. The last band that did that was The View in 2007 – and they haven’t been prevalent in the industry since 2015.

So far, they have topped the score with both vinyl sales and streaming since its release. The question is, they can maintain the speed and claim the top spot from Demi Lovato? Find out tonight.

Emphatic in style and breaking records, Scottish bands certainly don’t make music by halves. They’re certainly out to prove a point and they’re not doing a bad job going about it.

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podcasts you should listen to …

  1. George Ezra & Friends

Despite being unable to record and share delightful music stories during this year because of the pandemic, the tales they have sought on this podcast so far has been unmeasurable. A delightfully convulsive and insightful listen to the world of the music industry, it portrays amazing music stories (and ramblings, I should mention) of some of the music greats: Elton John, Tom Jones, Ed Sheeran and Lewis Capaldi to name a few.

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I hope you find it as interesting and fun to listen to, as it was to make.

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Most recent:

2. Soundcheck

Showcasing themselves as the ultimate platform for fans of all music, Soundcheck is under new management, under new names and rigging up a highly attainable podcast that is worthy of a listen. Formulating interviews with past and present music artists, and keeping you up to date on all music news including festival line-ups, new album reviews and personal thoughts and ever-present industry standards that come out.

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Featuring interviews with your favourite artists, this is the place to hear it first.

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Most recent:

3. Load-In Podcast

From the unheard music tales and talks, the Load-In has the best works to date for being not the road in the music industry. Charming and rustic interviews within the music industry brings episodes every two weeks of the same greats and legends in the world of classic rock. Driven straight from the inspiration of using Zoom during lockdown, ambition has created a brand new podcasts for us to listen to on our commutes.

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From tales from the road to upcoming projects …

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Most recent:

4. Music and Life Podcast

After highly anticipated followings from the Music and Life blog, its original format and discussions are turning to the form of listening as opposed to reading. Enjoy insightful and topical discussions in the world of music from all aspects of industry genres. Drawing more so on particular concepts within African-American culture and communities and their music styles, Music and Life brings a fresh take on what’s beating on all things music.

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Remember the motto: Music IS Life!

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Most recent:

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Let’s Talk: Can ANYONE be a Musician?

The rise of musicality stature, record labels and music business organisations tell us no.

But, the transparency of social media, the number of bedroom artists rising to fame, the term of ‘music’ losing its meaning as each day passes, tells us a different story.

I believe that anyone can be a musician. Putting in the practice is the first step, your musicianship will then carry you the rest of the way there.

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If you have the perseverance and determination to succeed, you can be more than a musician but a businessman, too. But, I think being a musician takes more than picking up a guitar. It’s learning the ins and outs of the music industry, making sure you know you every loophole, every important name in the industry and making sure it’s who you know and what you know. That all too familiar catchphrase that is so present in creative sectors – and that is no different with the music industry.

I think it’s also more to do with your audience. The hardest thing about being a musician is having a decent audience. Playing an instrument or being able to rap and make a good beat is only the half of it. The ability to market and campaign yourself almost as if you’re running for office yourself is the difficult half. You could argue that if you’re good enough, then the audience comes to you. But that’s not strictly true at all, now is it? I know thousands of talented artists, singers and rappers who are making their way slowly to an audience – despite making amazing music. The audience is hard to achieve, especially within such an over-populated and over-saturated industry that is the music one.

For me, I’m a drummer. We’ll leave the drummer jokes at the foot of the door, thank you. But, it took me 10 years of practice to get to the skill and quality as a drummer where I am today. In no way to represent in numbers of my social media fanbase or a following on this blog, and so it’s important to know your achievements and success, I think.

For me, being a drummer is amazing, fun and downright beautiful. Anyone can be a musician if you have the energy and time for it. I wouldn’t say the talent for it, because I think everyone has talent. The right amount of practice and you’d be up there with the greats. After all, how do you think they got up there?

Anyways, I’ve rambled on enough about this topic – clearly a lot to say! Let me know your thoughts on this one below. And above all else … let’s talk. Because it’s good to talk.