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Ben Howard – ‘Collections from the Whiteout’ Album Review

Striking the distance between the strange and the curious, Collections from the Whiteout draws everlasting collaborations – but holds its own with Howard still prevalent as the inventive singer-songwriter.

If I told you that Aaron Dessner of The National had a major hand in producing and spinning his thoughts into Howard’s fourth successive album, you’d instantly understand it’s thought-process. A simply inventive piece of studio production, it merely avoids the dooming darkness that we saw on predecessors Noonday Dream and I Forget Where We Were, and brings a new intriguing oddity to his writing work.

Despite lacking its consistent catchy flings that we saw in amicable favourites Keep Your Head Up and Only Love, from his loveable debut, Every Kingdom back in 2011 – the elusive narratives, rustic thrills and heart-ache guitar pangs from Dessner make it an album worth writing about.

As he careens from his original path of the folk/vocal combo and instead diving into a distortion of electronics, it just tells us more about what kind of singer-songwriter Ben Howard is. Compelling, inventive and simply unafraid to embrace change.

With single stand-outs few and far between – as it’s best as a collectiveSorry Kid, Crowhurst’s Meme and Finders Keepers are some of my favourites from the 14-track album. With themes less thought-provoking but rather taken straight from snapshots of news articles, the album is rife with collaborations and inspiration from seven co-collaborators who all have a hand-in making Howard’s next masterpiece.

While it may veer away from Howard’s original sound and sometimes veer off too much, it still manages to keep itself grounded allowing Ben to still flourish in moments of bitter-sweet beauty. While it’s a saddening moment to not hear Howard again flex his own acoustic compassion and folky vibes from Every Kingdom, just the musical journey alone he is undertaking is good enough for me.

Other album reviews for this month:

Kings of Leon’s When You See Yourself

Aloe Blacc’s All Love Everything

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Let’s Talk: What are your music plans for the future?

For us delving into the music industry, hoping for the reprising role of live music to return to our lives with the majesty of concerts, events and festivals over the Summer, this is another important topic of discussion.

What are your plans for when music does return?

Are there any of your rescheduled gigs or concerts pushed til the end of the year?

If so, who are you going to see?

Are you one of those people that is feeling fairly uncomfortable still in the midst of the crowd and will wait til the safety of 2022? If so, let me know your thoughts.

For me, I do have gigs that were indeed, necessarily postponed from the start of this year and deferred til the autumn of 2021, and even to the starting winter months of 2022. I’ll probably decide to steer clear of summer festivals until there is a conditional format of safety and concern with these. There is something about the uncertainty of festival planning that makes me nervous about maintaining social distancing and the undoubtable risk of rising cases yet again for us as a nation.

I am set to watch Idles and Foals in the coming months in London, and of course – I am hoping to return to the fields of Somerset for Glastonbury in 2022 – if I get the chance to grab those aloof tickets, of course! But, unlike most, I haven’t gone out and purchased every festival ticket under the sun, because undoubtedly, the majority of those tickets will be refunded. This is where our consumer haste to return to normality will be our downfall during these extraordinary times.

If any, let me know your music plans for 2021/2022!

Isle of Wight Festival line-up intriguing you? Lost to pick for live music? View below and gain a bit more insight into what the live music sector has to offer you this summer.

Isle of Wight Festival

Ticketmaster Gigs and Upcoming Events

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I made a playlist: Browsin’ the Blues

Back to popular demand, this time, I made a playlist is careening into the deep and dirty of swingin’ Blues ripened fresh and directly from the South.

Harmonica and twangy strings-abound, Browsin’ the Blues brings every Blues greats into one neatly reformed playlist package. For avid fans of the genre or merely fans who feel a sense of relaxing coming on, it is perfect for anyone.

An eclectic, swampy collection of the best of the swingin’ Blues, pulled deep from the origins of the South for your pleasure. Perfect for the sweetest soul … or the dirtiest.

Have a gander below:

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Kings of Leon – ‘When You See Yourself’ Album Review

Tennessee-bred quartet draw up eighth studio album that replaces swagger for subtlety that strengthens over time.

Reprising their roles as emphatic titans in the rock music industry, they have returned from their 2016 album, WALLS with their eighth release, When You See Yourself in early March of 2021. With less temper and angst to it than most other records compared to Find Me and Waste a Moment on their previous, it is ultimately fashioned with progressive playing, delicate sentiment and glossy productive finish.

Unfortunately – while this record is a blissful listen – it carries itself with not a lot of substance. Whilst dirty guitar hooks are present in pre-single, The Bandit and halfway-down-the-list Stormy Weather, the album soon becomes lost in itself and an intermingling of songs folding into one another seems to happen. For a while, while listening to this album, I did seem to forget where I was, who I was listening to and would often take a step back and play the record again. Nevertheless, it is still a confident and mature direction from the rock quartet that no doubt stamps their mark on their triumphs they have had throughout the years they’ve been active.

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For Kings of Leon, their legacy drives a hard bargain and majorly wins over your opinion for such a delicate studio album.

While it does seem to lose itself on rare occasions, it is a blissful listen with its glossy textures, playful guitar song-writing and exact ambiguity that was present on some of their first records like Because of the Times and Come Around Sundown.

Favourites from the 11-track selection include When You See Yourself, Are You Far Away, A Wave and Golden Restless Age.

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Let’s Talk: What is the PERFECT Summer music anthem to you?

As we draw closer to the anticipation of the summer and the return for live music potentially to our shores, let’s talk.

Question for today: What is the PERFECT Summer music anthem to you?

What song brings you the most uplifting joy during the season of sun?

As flowers bloom, and pollen counts rise, what else rises within you when listening to a certain song?

What song makes you feel like you’re in the midst of summer – even when you’re not?

For myself, it is a hot mix-up between playing with past bands at little local and nestled music festivals covering Oasis songs in front of the breaking-hot sun to an audience of about 30 or 40 of my most dearest and cherished friends of mine. All relationships once gathered, now all lost.

But regardless, those memories are simply too precious to forget and will stay with me forever – whether or not I venture further into the music industry with stronger professional standards. Next in line would have to be Leeds Festival dating back to August in 2016, I believe, if memory serves me correct. There is nothing so simple than hiking your gear in your friends’ atrociously small car, driving across half a country to stew a piss-up in a festival fuelled with anthems, angst and anarchy.

Unfortunately, I have no photographs to show this madness because I couldn’t dare risk bringing out anything more than the price of a festival burger, but I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Still,nothing quite like it, eh?

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Now … whether it be on the fields of Somerset for Glastonbury Festival here in the UK, or one of the largest music festivals in Europe via the Sziget Festival in Budapest or – even simply an electronic anthem you reside with while relaxing at your local park; let me know!