Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Bands That Deserve More Attention #2 - You, Me, and Everyone We Know.

After the success of last week's post on Bands That Deserve More Attention, I'm back this week with a different genre. This time, it's the turn of pop-punk in the form of You, Me, and Everyone We Know.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Merry Christmas, I could care less...

I couldn't agree with Sir Corey Taylor more on this one. Christmas is not my 'thing', and I don't think it ever will be. It's not for want of trying though, every year I pull out a Christmas playlist and try and get into the fully festive spirit, but after 21 failed years, I've figured it just isn't for me. But wait, I have perfectly valid reasons.

1. For a start, the Christmas decorations come into shops just before Halloween, so my favourite holiday is ruined by wading through tinsel and fake snow to reach my skulls and pumpkins.

2. The optimism. I'm the most pessimistic person you'll ever meet, therefore a holiday dedicated to cheerful, colourful celebrations is not my bag, baby. Take your vibrant colours elsewhere guys.

3. The consumerism. Obviously, it's a religious holiday, but I'm not religious so that's also another aspect that's wasted on me. While throwing away money is my forte, but I'd much rather fritter my pennies on something useful in comparison to glistening lights that everyone gets sick of after five minutes.

4. The celebration of the cold. I hate the cold with a passion, so I don't wish to be reminded of the snow and sub-zero temperatures by throwing fake snow around my house.

5. The tree. Could you think of something more high maintenance than bringing a pine tree into your home, only to spend hours decorating it while everyone in the house argues over the fact you have too many baubles on one side than the other. Symmetry is key in my life, and I can never get a tree perfectly symmetrical, so I've stopped trying.

6. The adverts. The jingle bells, the crappy jingles, the old men dressed unconvincingly as Santa with an elastic beard - it just doesn't cut it for me.

7. The shoppers. Everyone in my area has sharp elbows when it comes to shopping anyway, but they sharpen them specifically for Christmas and all the normal rules of common decency and public etiquette fly out of the window when they're rushing to get their last minute things. Plan ahead, kids.

8. Christmas dinner. I'm a vegetarian, I don't like roast potatoes and I don't like cranberry sauce, so I just have a plate of mash, Quorn sausages, sprouts and carrots. It might as well be another Sunday.

9. The party season. Sorry, but can we change this around? Why is the party season in the middle of winter when I can't leave the house without five layers and gloves on? How on earth am I expected to go to a party in a skirt in this weather?!

But I couldn't insult the entire holiday, could I? There are some redeeming factors, for example...

1. Elf. The best Christmas movie bar none.

2. The pop songs. While everyone else is blocking their ears and turning off their radios, I'm loving the holiday songs. I could listen to 'Merry Xmas Everybody' every year and still not get bored of it, and it's not just because I love Noddy Holder. But I'm still holding a grudge that The Darkness were beaten to the Christmas Number One, let's face it, this song was a classic.

3. Punk rock Christmas songs. It's nice to hear some original Christmas songs for once, and punk bands do them best. Also, Pete Wentz looks amazing in this thumbnail. Let's just appreciate that thumbnail for a sec...

4. Candy canes. I stock up on these beauties every year and I'll be found gnawing on one every day, just because I frickin' love candy.

But that's it, I'm afraid. I'll probably never convert to loving Christmas, but that's just my opinion. You won't find me dressing as a slutty Santa's little helper and you certainly won't find me carol singing, but I can tolerate it.

What do you love/hate about Christmas?

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Saturday, 23 November 2013

Bands That Deserve More Attention #1 - Crown Jewel Defense

Oh music blog, why have I forsaken you? Well the truth is, I've been a bit busy studying for my degree. As you might already know, I'm now a third year History student, so if I'm not writing essays, I'm panicking about not writing essays. But I'm here now to bring you some music-related posts I've been publishing over on my main blog Zombies Wear Eyeliner, which deserve their own spotlight over here on Band Shirts. So bear with me while I get back into the swing of writing music posts, your patience will be much appreciated.

So many bands I listen to don't get the attention they deserve, either because they haven't managed to cross the Atlantic yet or they just haven't had enough publicity for my liking. After having enough of people not knowing who the band I'm listening to is, I decided it's about time I did my bit to help them spread the word, that these are bands I fully endorse in the hope that my readers would love them just as much as I do. I've put a number after this title because I'm sure I'll be making more of these posts to bring some of my favourite unknown bands to you.

First up is Crown Jewel Defense, a stadium metal band from California.

I first saw these guys a few years back when they supported The Darkness, and I was hooked from the moment they stepped up on stage. Of course, I always research support bands beforehand and I knew they were going to be killer, so I splashed some glitter on my face to show my support.

If you're a fan of stadium metal, glam rock, screaming electrics, supersonic vocals and energetic beats, you'll love CJD. Their inspired yet individual style is captivating, and their image will definitely stick in your mind - who else would've thought to slap on glitter instead of concealer?

If you have any unloved bandanas kicking around, kindly donate them to lead singer Taylor Hood, it seems like he's facing a shortage because they're all tied to his mic stand. Seriously, I've never seen such a well-loved mic.

The album Crown Jewel Defense contrasts the raw power behind Forgotten Life with the quirkiness of Mandy and the solemnity of Die Alone, and it all makes for a killer debut album, you'll be hard pressed to find a point where you're not singing along to the catchy lyrics. Metal Rain is an unusual but very welcome addition, it's definitely not the kind of metal we've heard before. Quite possibly my favourite track, Wasting Days would top the rock charts if CJD were as popular as they deserve to be. If you're not signing along to Alive Again within seconds, you'll find yourself humming it hours later.

The thing with Crown Jewel Defense's songs is the way Taylor's vocals imprint on your mind, yet there's no way anyone would dare to give him a run for his money on the karaoke machine; he hits notes I've never even heard a girl hit before.

Their uniqueness is hard to describe in words - imagine a plateful of Justin Hawkins with a side order of Slash, sprinkled with a dash of Marc Bolan and a generous helping of Journey and you're only halfway to CJD. 

Their self titled album came out this year and I recommend you all go and buy it right now on iTunes. And while you're at it, have a listen here to their cover of Guns 'N' Roses Nightrain, coincidentally my favourite GnR song but CJD totally blew the original out of the water. 

In short, I can't express how much I love Crown Jewel Defense. This first album convinced me that I'll follow their work for as long as they're on the scene. Long may they reign.

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Thursday, 25 July 2013

Band Shirt Archive*

As you know, band shirts are a massive part of my life. Without them, my image wouldn't be the same, my identity would be a little less complete, I'd lose my individuality, and most of all, the importance of music in my life would be left unspoken. Despite the fact a million other people own the same shirt, I feel as if band shirts speak volumes about me, sending a message to the people that I pass on the street - in a way it makes me feel as if I'm more approachable to people, I'm happy to speak to strangers about the band shirt I'm wearing, and I have done on many occasions.
What's also important to me is music education. Without my school's musical resources and the consequent education I received with learning instruments and the confidence that comes with performing in front of a class of my peers, I wouldn't be as aware or open-minded with music as I am now. 
Who would I be without those music lessons in primary school singing 'It's A Long Way To Tipperary'? Who would I be without having performed 'Rock Around The Clock' on guitar in front of my entire primary school? Who would I be without still remembering how to play that Titanic song on the recorder? I'd be half the person I am now, I'd be a shy, quivering wreck, and I'd be completely oblivious and prejudiced against the infinite musical genres out there.

Band Shirt Archive combines these two things - contributing to musical education and band shirts.
The archive was established by two guys, Nate and Mike, with the aim of supporting music education charities by raising money through autographed merchandise auctions and shirt sales from the partners that advertise on their website. While the project has been going for a few years, it was shifted into top gear last year as the guys saw their dream unfolding big style.
For example, this year saw their efforts turn an autographed shirt from the Pine Box Boys into digital tuners for a high poverty school band in West Virginia. That's a cause I believe in.

Their fundraising target? $1,000,000. A dream too big? Not for these guys, as in their words, 'anything less than shooting the moon just isn't our style'. These guys are definitely my style.

As of last month, their fundraising reached out to 1,200 students in need of better music supplies and resources, and these guys have no intention of stopping there. With nearly 2,000 archived shirts and almost 90,000 shirts available through partner sellers, the project has its feet firmly on the ground.

So how can you help? Well, in many ways. Spreading the word is the main priority, but at the same time, if you have contacts in the music industry, please, make use of them for the sake of music charities. Let the boys at Band Shirt Archive know if you have any friends who could help get hold of autographed equipment which could raise the much-needed funds this project is aiming for. Perhaps you might want to submit a shirt to the archive, or grab a shirt or two from the sellers on the Band Shirt Archive websiteThe opportunities are endless - you can do something for music charities.

What's more, their homepage is a great source of music news - where else would I have found out about P!nk's oldest fan? I'll admit, this amused me far more than it should have.

I fell in love with this company from the moment they contacted me - they're not out for personal gain, they're in the business to make a difference through band shirts, and they're making a huge change already. If I or you, my readers, can make any contribution to this cause, these guys deserve it, I can't wait to see them grow and reach beyond their targets! 

So now you know who they are and what you can do for them, what are you waiting for? Visit the Band Shirt Archive here.

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Thursday, 27 June 2013

Pet Shop Boys Electric Tour - London O2 Arena 18th June 2013

As my first Pet Shop Boys live experience, I didn't know what to expect, but I'd seen their set at Glastonbury on the BBC so I assumed I was due for a spectacle of Morphsuit-sporting box-headed backing dancers and countless costume changes for our two main men. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Music bloggers!

What do we have that beauty, fashion, lifestyle and plus size bloggers don't?
An unorganised hashtag, that's what!
It seems the best way to communicate with bloggers nowadays is through Twitter, and while the #mbloggers hashtag is recognised, it's not as active as I'm sure we'd all like. We're even being mistaken for tech bloggers - isn't it about time we established ourselves?
Other blogging groups have their weekly organised chats with exciting topics of conversation to help writers get to know each other and possibly follow someone they didn't know about before.
So what I'm proposing is - let's get together. I'd love to get some feedback on when you'd all like to have a group chat on Twitter, say Saturday nights at 9pm? Would you like these chats to be organised, or would you prefer to just feel free to chat about anything and everything?
I'm dying to get to know some more music bloggers, it seems we're not the most vocal of communities, so let's change that!

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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Falling In Reverse - 'Fashionably Late' Album Review

If you don't have a weak spot for Ronnie Radke, chances are you're lying. Everyone loves a bad guy turned good, right? The ex-Escape The Fate vocalist has certainly made a name for himself with his band Falling In Reverse, and his impenetrable ego is all part of the appeal. There's something about his self confidence that draws even an anti-ego activist like me like a moth to a heavily-tattooed flame. Ronnie's larger-than-life image bursts through every track from The Drug In Me Is You, but has he taken a different path with Fashionably Late?

Not by any means, but that's not a bad thing. Falling In Reverse are the unexpected Jacks of all trades - departing from pop through rap, a brief stop at country, and arriving at metal - Fashionably Late showcases every genre you never expected to hear from them, and yet the overbearing egotistical theme remains. Don't let the relaxed cover deceive you, this album is full of energy and confidence, just what we wanted.

Champion was a little less in-your-face than I expected, but the rapping still caught me off guard. I don't think I like Ronnie rapping. No, correction, I don't like Ronnie rapping. Don't get me wrong, he's good at it, it's just not something I rave for. 
In complete contrast, Bad Girl's Club brings back memories of Forever The Sickest Kids, and somehow I'm okay with its tech-poppy overload, my inner teenybopper finds it appealing. From there, things get a little deeper, as Rolling Stone and Born To Lead echo Escape The Fate's former heaviness at the hands of Ronnie, while Self Destruct Personality puts it's own tricksy spin on metal. You have to hear it to believe it.
The band's recognisable lyrical magic remains throughout, making Fuck The Rest my new anthem for the summer, even with a cheeky reference to 'Charlie bit my finger' right at the end. 
If you've been hunting for an ode to your video gaming childhood, Game Over fits the bill. Although I was more Tomb Raider than Mario, I can still relate to this, but my misplaced sense of innocence refuses to believe an ulterior motive to describing chasing after coins.
Keep Holding On was a pleasant surprise, the high-pitched guitars competing with the piano, the Queen-worthy solo, making a great and welcome change from FIR's usual pop-punk material.

One to listen out for on this album is the country-esque Drifter, I found myself toe-tapping within seconds. This is the first, but not the last, signal of Falling In Reverse's maturity on the album, not a scrap of ego to be found, much like The Westerner from their debut album, Drifter brings you back down to earth with a thump - the reality behind a singer's drive to make music isn't as glamorous as we like to think. 

Remember all those completely inappropriate songs the kids would sing on the playground, whether they knew what it was about or not? The album's title track Fashionably Late should be one of them for the new generation. Just don't go quoting this in front of your partner, eh? Believe me, I've struggled.

Last but by no means least, the band's first single from the album, Alone, showcases Ronnie's respectable attempt at rapping. I don't think it suits him but kudos to him for throwing it out there. It's catchy as hell, what more could we ask for? Listen out for the unexpected Suicide Silence-esque breakdown.

All in all, a varied and diverse album brings Falling In Reverse back on top form. Try putting FiR in a category, I dare you. These guys put all their effort behind breaking moulds, stereotypes and hearts, and Fashionably Late hasn't disappointed.

What was the inappropriate song you'd sing on the playground? 

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Friday, 21 June 2013

My London O2 Arena Experience

You should know by now that I love a good rant. I'll rant about anything to anyone, and today is no exception, as today I've got a rant of epic proportions. I went to the London O2 Arena on Monday to see the Pet Shop Boys, and I felt it was only necessary to impart my experience at the venue, as I wished I had known about these things before I got there.

Now as we'd spent the entire day in London before the gig, I was pleasantly surprised by how things in London worked, the tube and so on, but upon arriving at North Greenwich station, the experience took a tumble. I'd been in a few tube toilets, but this was by far the worst. I've been to Download festival, and those port-a-potties were spotless in comparison to North Greenwich toilets. I'm OCD about hygiene, I nearly hyperventilated.

Despite my fears of not being able to navigate London, the O2 was easily accessible from the tube station, you walk straight out and you're directed towards the dome straight away. Me and my mum turned up super early because we'd spent the day around London anyway, so we headed to Nando's for the first time, and the staff there were lovely, helpful and appreciative of the little time we had to get a good spot in the queue for the gig.

If you have standing tickets, be prepared to walk a mile to entrance F. It's not as accessible as you think. Yes, they think it's a good idea to punish you even more for choosing to stand for the next 4 hours.

We arrived at the queue with a good two hours before doors, so we made ourselves as comfortable as possible on the tarmac and waited. Half an hour before the doors were due to open, the staff ushered us into what I can only describe as cattle pens, telling us to bunch up as close as possible so they could fit enough people in. We'd got there early, so we weren't far down the queue. Half an hour later, 6.30 as stated on the tickets, the doors were still not open. Technical difficulties, we were told, obviously that's not the venue nor the artist's fault half the time, but it's the fact we were crammed into tiny spaces with barely enough room to breathe let alone stretch your arms or bend your back when you've been sat in an uncomfortable position for hours before anyway. I have very weak joints, so I was in excruciating pain sandwiched in between people with absolutely no room to sort out my cracking spine. Me and mum frequently contemplated turning around and going home, because our joints couldn't take it, we're not fit enough for that. Even if you don't suffer from claustrophobia, it's easy to develop it when you can feel the breath of the person behind you on your neck. It's not even that cramped when you get into the gig. I overheard people in the queue saying they'd even forgotten what they were waiting for, it had been such a long and traumatic experience.
A whole hour and 10 minutes in that environment and the doors were finally opened. The bag search was quick and painless, a lovely guy simply asked me to open my bag, barely touched it himself and let me through. The worst I was carrying was my compact mirror, so thankfully they weren't as thorough as I expected.

We ended up right at the barrier on the right hand side, where behind me they sectioned off an emergency exit path, which thankfully gave me enough room to origami my back into its original shape.

Now here's my biggest rant - if a venue is going to enforce a photography ban, enforce it properly. I have no qualms with a no photography rule, after all, bands get distracted by the flash and some rightly believe it's stupid to watch a gig through your smartphone screen instead of your own eyes. But please, O2, instead of getting a feeble staff member to shout 'no photography of the bands guys' to the first 20 people that turned up at the barrier, why not wait until everyone's arrived at the venue and use the plentiful speakers to let your warning be heard? With my mum shouting in my ear 'take a photo of this', 'take a photo of that', I caved and decided to try and take a photo. In the process of which, I was sharply ticked off by a member of staff in front of the stage. Being a decent person, I learned my lesson and I didn't take a photo again. However, when I saw the entire rest of the venue, both standing and seating, taking photos, I was a little more than cheesed off. I made a point of watching the staff to see if they were telling anyone else off, but they didn't. A girl two across from me at the barrier was recording the entire show using flash and she wasn't even approached. I'd call 'prejudice' if anyone was listening - why single me out? Was it just because I didn't look like the average 80s pop gig attendee? I'd have understood completely if I was causing a disruption to the gig, but I was at the far right of the barrier, with nobody behind me whatsoever, and I even have a shite 3GS with no flash to cause any distractions - so why me? Do I look easy to tell off? I'm afraid it hurts me when I'm the only one being targeted for doing something every single other person is doing. I don't like injustice at the best of times, but to embarrass me in front of the people around me while the girl nearby is still recording?
I've paid £80 for us to get here, you think I'm leaving without a crappy iPhone quality photo?
Credit where credit's due, however, the staff were on the ball with handing out water and ear defenders, plus a member of staff came and asked if I was alright as I was in tears from the pain halfway through the set, but perhaps I wouldn't have been in such a state if it weren't for the crowd herding before.

So all in all, it wasn't the greatest experience, and it wasn't the greatest venue. I'm much happier in a smaller, more intimate venue, but I'm aware venues like this are what make a band feel great about how far they've come. 
Of course, I understand some of you will work at the O2 and will completely disagree with what I'm saying. I'm aware I sound like another one of those frustrating customers those of us in retail wish didn't exist, but that's just a matter of opinion, and this is my opinion. I just wouldn't willingly go to the O2 again, it's not worth the grief.
For a band, if you've reached the O2, you've made it. For a fan, if you've reached the O2, you've set yourself up for a bumpy ride.

I'll review the Pet Shop Boys performance in another post this weekend, but I thought I'd share my venue experience separately.

Have you been to the O2 Arena? What did you think?

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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Album Review - Sleeping With Sirens - Feel

After the success of 2011's Let's Cheers to This, I expected a fairly similar follow-up from Sleeping With Sirens, but I didn't get that. Feel, released last week, almost feels a little too laboured and repetitive, sometimes straying a little too far out of familiar waters, which we can probably thank their enormous new fanbase for. I'm all for a band searching for a new image, but to me, it seems half of the time SWS has tried too hard and looked in all the wrong places. But when they've stuck to what they know, they've produced some crackers.

The majority of the album lacks the emotional anchors that fans took on board with their previous offerings. Gone are the meaningful, touching lyrics, and replaced with a chorus comprising of one word. Repeated over and over. From the clichés of Feel and Here We Go through the predictability of Deja Vu to the uneventful Low ('Don't make me feel low'? Really?!), the album doesn't always get it right, but we can't expect all 11 tracks to push every button. 

Most remarkable is the heaviness of The Best There Ever Was, which was unexpected to say the least, and didn't exactly fit in with the rest of the album's ethos, but maybe it was a good idea to throw in just one loaded track for good measure. Still, I'm not convinced it suits them, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed this isn't their attempt to test the water and see if loyal fans would accept a move toward more heavy material. 

Despite the lack of lyrical quality, Kellin's vocals are unmistakeable and when you hear his high notes, it's possible to forgive the thoughtless writing. Less time spent repeating the best lyrics effectively shaking off their sparkle, more time treasuring Kellin's gorgeous top notes, agreed? Also, the guitars are still as good as always, although this album definitely needs more solos to showcase them, as the tech-y effects drown them out too often. 

The entire album seems to cover the past, present and future of the genre - I felt a little old school My Chemical Romance in These Things I've Done, I even noticed an Avril Lavigne atmosphere with Satellites while Congratulations presumably predicts the future of pop-punk. Don't get me wrong, I love Matty Mullins as much as the next person, but Congratulations won't be a song I'll be going back to anytime soon. 

Despite all this, I can see this album becoming a lasting anthem purely because of the standout I'll Take You There and Sorry, which opens with a piano and faithfully returns to what brought SWS their fame - the heartstring-tugging remorseful ballads that make a crowd scream and clap along. Free Now drags out emotions I hadn't used in a while, a stark reminder of the value of family and that their future is in our hands, making this my favourite track from the album.

This is pop-punk, it's hit and miss. When it misses, it misses by a mile, but when it hits, it hits you right in the feelings.

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Saturday, 8 June 2013

21 Years of Number One Singles

It's my 21st birthday soon, so to celebrate on this 'ere corner of the web, I wanted to go through all the number one singles from my birthday week for the past 21 years, so here's a list of all the best and worst chart-toppers. I warn you now, there will be some catchy earworms in this list, so unless you're comfortable hearing Britney Spears in your mind all day, I suggest you stop reading now. Seriously.
Please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle, we're going time travelling...

1992 - Erasure - Abba-esque
Nope, I don't remember this by name... that's a good start! I assume it's a cover of ABBA? Erasure had better hits. Oh baby pleeease give a little respeeeect toooooo meeeeeee...
1993 - UB40 - (I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You
Oh man, the British wannabe Jamaicans. Please no.
1994 - Wet Wet Wet - Love Is All Around
A pretty unremarkable hit except for the fact the guy from The Troggs wrote this - remember Wild Thing? He lived in the next town until he passed away last year. Avid believer that UFOs existed. Little did he know it was me making the crop circles.
1995 - Robson Green and Jerome Flynn - Unchained Melody
Ohhhhh yes, I was hoping Robson and Jerome would appear somewhere. I was always Team Robson though. He was the only reason I watched that Northern Lights/City Lights/Clash of the Santas series.

1997 - Hanson - Mmmbop
When you remember this song, all bad feelings fade away.
Seems '97 was a good year for the catchy American hits, because the number one a week later was Puff Daddy's I'll Be Missing You, then the classic Men In Black in August - let's face it, we all tried to learn the alien dance moves from that video.

1998 - B*Witched - C'est La Vie
According to my parents, I used to have this on casette and play it religiously. I vehemently contest this.
2003 - Evanescence - Bring Me To Life
This clung onto the top spot for 4 weeks! This song encapsulates my teenage years, I was inseparable from my Fallen album, and I blame Amy Lee for my desire to dye my hair black at a ridiculously young age.

2004 - Mario Winans - I Don't Wanna Know
I've only recently recovered from an obsession with this song! Shola Ama, The Pirates and Naila Boss collaborated for a retaliation to this with You Should Really Know, and 04 was clearly the best year for retaliation hits - anyone remember Eamonn and Frankee? Also in 2004 were Usher's Yeah! and Burn, and Britney's Toxic and Everytime, and also Busted - this whole year was addictive for this 12 year old girl discovering her pop obsessions.

2005 - Crazy Frog - Axel F
This only stayed at the top for 4 weeks but from memory it felt like a decade.
2006 - Nelly Furtado - Maneater
I see the title 'maneater' and instantly think Hall and Oates, I can't be the only one, surely?
2007 - Rihanna - Umbrella
This was at number 1 for 10 weeks, it's a wonder we're all still alive.
2009 - Dizzee Rascal - Bonkers
If you don't sing along to this, you're lying.

2012 - Cheryl Cole - Call My Name
Just no.

Anyone else feeling a little travel sick from this trip down memory lane? Well I hope you've enjoyed the ride and don't forget to leave a comment down below - what was number 1 when you were born?

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Monday, 20 May 2013

A quick update!

I just wanted to quickly apologise for the lack of posts on here lately. As I run my main blog Zombies Wear Eyeliner, this one has fallen into disrepair due to my complete lack of time to organise both. My ideas to schedule posts for specific days of the week fell flat, and I seem to have lost the motivation to keep two blogs alive. However, I'm hoping the inspiration will come to me soon and I'll get back to posting on here as soon as it does. Until then, feel free to come and join me over on my main blog, as I've just posted about the Eurovision Song Contest 2013... if that doesn't get you excited, I don't know what will.

So again, I'm sorry for the absence of Band Shirts, I should be back up and running this summer. It's less than a month until I see the Pet Shop Boys at the O2 so no doubt I'll be reviewing their set and supports and so forth.

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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

A-Z Of The Zombie Music Library - A

As I mentioned in my previous post, for the next 26 Tuesdays, I'll be giving you a little insight into my music library, what bands appear under every letter of the alphabet, and which of their tracks are my favourites. Of course, I don't have a band for every single letter of the alphabet just yet, but as the weeks go by, I intend on filling the gaps by finding a new band, say under the letter Z, and I'll let you know what I've discovered about them in the process.

The first week, of course, is letter A. What bands begin with A in my music library? Without further ado, here goes...

The Academy Is...
Let's not be pedantic about the 'the' in the title, shall we? The Academy Is... were the first emo-style band I discovered as a teenager, and my favourite song remains to this day - Skeptics And True Believers. Although I never really ventured into their material beyond the Almost Here album, I was quite gutted to hear they'd split, as I suppose we're all a little heartbroken when the bands who transformed us in our teenage years go their separate ways.

Call me all the names under the sun, I'm not a massive ACDC fan. I'm afraid Angus Young's school uniform always put me off, I just can't take anyone seriously when he's wearing that.
As for my favourite track, however, I've loved Highway To Hell ever since I properly discovered ACDC through the movie Little Nicky.

Ah my beautiful boys who are making their comeback this September! AFI were a gigantic part of my teenage development, and Miss Murder became my anthem to 2006. And got me a little too attracted to Davey Havok. I forgot how good this video was!

I'm so so glad I got to see these guys live back in the Nightmare Anatomy era, wiL Francis is one of those unstoppable artists that we'll probably still see for many many years to come, he takes his music so seriously and it shows with Die Romantic, the one song I wouldn't have lived without as a teenager, it gave me so much strength I didn't have before.

Admittedly, I've not given these guys enough of a chance, but Congratulations, I Hate You is the kind of track I live my life by.

Alice Cooper
This is the big one! If you've seen me on Twitter, you'll know Alice Cooper is my idol, my inspiration, and most importantly, my identical twin. Problem is, I can't remember how exactly I got into his music, I just remember buying his CDs in my early teens and every one of my friends looking at me like I'd lost a marble or five. I can't describe what Alice brings to my life, this kind of confidence in how I look, listening to his music is my way of venting any degree of anger and I'm left feeling empowered yet calmer. Choosing a favourite track was a difficult task to say the least, but Hey Stoopid always appealed to me as a kid. And yes, it took me until last year to realise that the other voice singing with him was my other idol Ozzy Osbourne. I put that ignorance down to never actually expecting Ozzy and Alice to have worked together. But now I know, my life is complete.

Alkaline Trio
Anyone else who grew up on the Tony Hawks games for the PlayStation will know Alkaline Trio as if they're their best friends. Armageddon was the perfect soundtrack to aimlessly skating around and causing a video game character numerous irreparable injuries.

All Time Low
I maybe should've spent more time listening to this band, but I will soon, I'll do it For Baltimore.

Andrew WK
I've turned down so many opportunities to see this man live and I'm still kicking myself for it. While there's so many favourites to choose from, I can't dislike a single track Andrew WK makes, but the one that makes me want to party hardest is Totally Stupid, now there's actually a good reason behind this. Back when Ryan Dunn passed away, I needed some comfort in fan-made YouTube tributes to the Jackass movies, and I stumbled across this montage set to the tune of Totally Stupid, and in light of Ryan's passing, I cried watching it. 

In a similar vein to ACDC, I wasn't greatly keen on Anthrax when I first heard them, but as you come to appreciate the eras their music has lived through, you begin to understand their style, and The Devil You Know is a good example of just how well their music can adapt into today's metal atmosphere. I'm quite gutted I missed these guys at Download 2012 now.

Asking Alexandria
I'm sure regular Kerrang! readers will be screaming at the mere mention of these guys, but their best track has to be The Final Episode (Let's Change the Channel) in my eyes.

So that was chock full of A bands! So if you were stuck for what to listen to on this (somehow sunny) Tuesday evening, I hope this post has given you something to keep you occupied!

What's your favourite band beginning with A?

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Sunday, 21 April 2013

Playlist For The Week #4

There are uneventful weeks, and then there's this week. You might have seen from my Instagram that I've been making frequent updates on my antics on GTA San Andreas, I've been so bored. Tell you what though, I've never found standing outside a girlfriend's house so much fun, I waited there for two days and she still didn't come out. I can't think why.
So as I've had a boring week, I've returned to my old music favourites to keep me sane.

The Used - Shine
Similar to the comeback we've seen from Fall Out Boy in recent weeks, this later track shows the transformations that The Used have gone through over the years. In  places, they're just as heavy as they always were, but their new album Vulnerable is so much more versatile, energetic and positive, those of us who have grown up with The Used firmly planted in our hearts welcome this optimistic approach.

You, Me and Everyone We Know - Livin' Th' Dream
If you've never heard of these guys, then you've missed out on the best of pop-punk.  Imagine Andrew WK with a more revengeful, Panic At The Disco twist and you've got You, Me and Everyone We Know. They didn't last long together which isn't good because I love their style, their songs really empower you no matter what mood you're in. I even persuaded my friends to sing their song Happy Birthday to me on my 18th birthday, for some reason I liked the lyrics...
Happy birthday, you're 18, the only thing that means
Is you're old enough to strip, still too young to have a grip 
On the high cost of each dollar, the impact of your father
On every shitty guy you'll date
Every piss poor decision you'll make...

Falling In Reverse - Pick Up The Phone
If Ronnie Radke phoned me, I'm pretty sure I'd pick it up. This is pure FIR, and it gets stuck in your head within seconds. If you don't want to be imagining Ronnie naked all night, don't listen to this.

Escape The Fate - Issues
Ronnie Radke's ex-band Escape The Fate, in my eyes, improved when he left, but that's only because I love Craig Mabbit's vocals with a passion akin to the fires of hell. This is one catchy anthem to teenage angst, but as you can tell from this week's playlist - angst is back in fashion.

So what have you been listening to this week, eh? Let me know in the comments!

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Friday, 19 April 2013

Festival Regrets

If you're heading off to a festival this year, I hate you. Nothing personal, I'm just jealous. I went to Download festival last year, and as it was my first festival, I had no idea what to expect. Unfortunately, I'm out of funds this year, so I won't be able to rectify the things I got wrong the first time. So in sharing my regrets from last year, I hope I'll be able to help you enjoy your weekend if you're going to a festival this year you lucky bastards!


Pack light!
This is top of my list for a very, very good reason. Now, everyone that was with me at Download last year will be screaming at their screens 'HALLELUJAH, SHE'S SEEN THE LIGHT', because I ruined the entire festival because I simply didn't pack light. I'd never been away for the weekend by myself before, and I'm also the most indecisive person on this planet, so I had to take more clothes than I needed, just so I had the options available to me for the three days. I packed enough for at least a week. More's the point, I packed it all in the only case I had big enough for it all - a wheely suitcase. Not a hiking bag like all the sane people, ooooh no, that common sense is beyond me. I even had to make my then-boyfriend drag said deadweight suitcase through the mud on the way in. I apologise profusely if you're reading this. That bloody suitcase ruined the entire weekend.

Take a comb to backcomb that dirty hair, girl!
This time last year, I was using a heat wave styler to make my hair a little tousled, and the waves were so loose, they'd be lost by the end of the day anyway. So in a situation where I couldn't wash my hair, it just looked and felt disgusting by Monday morning. I'm a person that can't go a day without washing my hair, so that was half of my problem with wishing to be detached from my mop after one night in a field.

Take a megaphone!
My fondest memory of Download 2012 is waking up one morning to the sounds of Rick Astley echoing from a nearby tent. I sat right up and joined in, singing every horrendous note in my half-asleep state. Next time, I fully intend on being that tosser that wakes everyone up with the catchiest and downright most annoying tunes when they've had zero sleep anyway.

Buy an extra phone battery!
I took very few photos at Download purely because I was so scared my battery would run out when I needed it most. I never bought a backup battery because I thought they were just too expensive, but now I see they're worth their weight in gold if you actually want to remember the weekend.

Take a bigger mirror!
As you can tell by the photo, I painted my face like a different member of KISS every day, and as such the task of putting on the face paint was a nightmare in a very small compact mirror. As too was the removal of said face paint, as I discovered in the service station toilets halfway home when I noticed the big black streaks down my face that I was earlier convinced I'd wiped off.


Brush your bloody teeth!
Chewing gum might tide you by during the day, but there's nothing worse than that 'oh shit I haven't brushed my teeth since I left home' feeling. I brought a toothbrush and paste, yes, but I couldn't bring myself to use the sink troughs, the bacteria were screaming at me from a mile away.

See more bands, don't sleep in or give into pain!
We were all ridiculously achy and tired all weekend as none of us had really gone to a proper festival before. We were by no means prepared for the 2 mile walk from the car to the campsite and the mile long walk to the arena. Our feet arrived virginal and left positively hookers. But as a consequence, we missed so many amazing bands because we were just too tired, for example Corey Taylor and Ghost, the latter a decision that I still bitterly regret. Although we never had the problem of sleeping in, because we didn't get much sleep at all, we didn't leave the campsite early enough because we were simply too exhausted.

Accept that bands will overlap!
I ruined many a time at Download because I just wouldn't stop complaining that I was missing another equally good band that were playing at the exact same time. My heart was beating for You Me At Six who played on second stage while I was made to watch Metallica on main stage. On reflection, Metallica were amazing and I'm so glad I saw them live, but I should have shut my mouth and enjoyed them, which I didn't.

Buy merch!
Goddamnit this may just be one of my biggest regrets, I'm seething just thinking about it even now. I spent the entire weekend walking straight past the merch stands - I'd decided what I wanted, but I thought to myself 'nah, I'll get it tomorrow'. Alas, I never did. And now I'm severely regretting not just taking the plunge because I was simply too busy/tired/wanting to save my money in case I needed food the next day.

Go out at night!
Another big regret was that we were just too tired to do anything in the evenings. We were so close to the village that we heard everyone going out at night, enjoying the funfair and coming back at 5am bellowing 'FENTOOOON', but we really missed out on a good environment at night because we missed the comfort of sitting on our fat arses.

Most of all... enjoy the ride!
On the way up to Derby, I was so tired and scared of the quagmire we were about to face that I completely forgot to enjoy the ride. It was a 4 hour journey and it was the furthest north I've ever been, so I really should've paid more attention. Although I will say I enjoyed the last hour of the journey because we were lost on our way to Donington so I became the resident navigator wielding an A to Z. Which surprised me considering I lose my bearing the minute I leave a shop.
Not only should I have enjoyed the journey there, but the (seemingly endless) journey from the car to the campsite, from the campsite to the arena - every single step. I took too much for granted.

One thing I don't regret?
Buying this baby from Poundland. This torch/glowstick was invaluable to us, from taking muddy wellies off at night to finding our elusive mobile phones in the pitch black. So if you're heading off to a festival this year, buy one of these, you will not regret it.

So my questions to you are - are you going to a festival this year? Who are you most excited to see? Or if you've been to a festival before, what was your biggest regret?

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Sunday, 14 April 2013

Playlist For The Week #4

I'm so sorry I forgot to get a Playlist For The Week done last week, I chose Sunday as the day to start (and finish!) an essay, and this post completely slipped my mind.   I'm sure we've all felt that kind of void when all your work is done, you just don't quite know where to put yourself. For me, the hardest decision has been what side of the sofa to sit on.

Sadly, this post is not exhilarating, as I've been listening to the entirety of Fall Out Boy's new album all week, I've not been very varied in my listening, so apologies for the following four tracks. But if you've never heard them before, perhaps this is a chance to discover something new!

Fall Out Boy - Alone Together
As I mentioned in my post yesterday, this is one of my favourite songs from the new album. It's certainly my most played, anyway. It's catchy, it's summery, but it's in-keeping with FOB's old style to a degree. It has to be heard to be believed really, but I can see this becoming a good summer anthem.

Forever The Sickest Kids - The Way She Moves.
Okay, this is a very corny song. FTSK are quite corny in general but I just love them, when I can't be bothered with songs with super deep meanings, when I just need a bit of optimism, I reach for their tracks and I instantly find myself in a great mood.

Vains Of Jenna - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
One of my favourite Elton John covers, Vains Of Jenna are actually fantastic. Ever since they appeared on Bam's Unholy Union, I fell in love. This cover is very similar to the original, with a slight alteration in the mood of the vocals, it's a bit more revengeful and glam. Of course, this Elton phase has been brought on by his astounding contribution on Fall Out Boy's new album, so if you haven't heard that already, then here it is...

Fall Out Boy - Save Rock And Roll feat. Elton John.
I won't ramble about this because I've already given you an ear-bashing about it in my post yesterday, but this could very soon become my favourite Fall Out Boy song.

So that's what I've been listening to this week, apologies again for the boring playlist, what have you been listening to?

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Saturday, 13 April 2013

Fall Out Boy - Save Rock And Roll

Words can't begin to describe my excitement when Fall Out Boy announced on their social media on Monday that they were releasing their new album early on YouTube and SoundCloud. Monday? That can't be right, it feels like I've been listening to this album for most of my life, the lyrics are already etched into my memory. 
This band can do no wrong in my eyes, after a decade of singing along to every note, I couldn't care less if Pete Wentz whacked his willy against the mic for 3 minutes, I'd still listen to it.
I'm insanely curious about which track Joe Trohman claimed to make him cry when he first heard it completed, so if anyone knows which one, I'd be grateful to know, but my bet's on Save Rock And Roll.
So in celebration of its early release, I'll go through and review track-by-track just as I always do. Of course, there are highs and there are most definitely lows, so stay tuned!

The Phoenix - I've also rambled about this one in a previous Playlist For The Week post, but in short, this track encapsulates what Fall Out Boy has always been about, and this is a perfect track to open the album with.
You're wearing our vintage misery, no, I think it looked a little better on me.

My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light 'Em Up) feat. 2 Chainz - I'm sure you've already read my ridiculously extensive review of this song here, so I won't repeat it. But in summary if you haven't read it - I LOVE THIS. Such a brilliant first release from an album we'd been waiting four years for.
Burn everything you love then burn the ashes. 
In the end, everything collides, my childhood spat back out the monster that you see.

Alone Together - This is what I was waiting for - a beautifully catchy summer anthem. This track makes me wish I had a car so I could drive off into the sunset blasting this from the speakers. This is most definitely one of my favourites off the album. Everything about it is so Fall Out Boy, the message of power in the face of adversity.
I don't know where you're going, but do you got room for one more troubled soul?

Where Did The Party Go? - So many na-na-nas, it could even be MCR. The verses here remind me of old school FOB circa Take This To Your Grave but the bridge and chorus are something refreshingly new, embracing the club kind of scene that pop punk as a genre has welcomed in recent years. There's still the distinct FOB theme though, the self-doubting lyrics, the remorse.
Let's fade away together, one dream at a time.

Just One Yesterday - The featuring singer Foxes is actually from a city near me and not much older than me either! If only I had talent, it could be me on a FOB album. I'm not envious at all. But her contribution is beautiful, I wouldn't have expected FOB to collaborate with a singer that's so different to their style, but she fits in wonderfully. I love this band just a little more for the use of the cheesiest chat-up line in a song - 'anything you say can and will be held against you, so only say my name', really Pete? You thought you'd get away with that one? I love how this song combines the typical emotional grief we come to associate with FOB and their over-confident alter-ego that tries its luck with anything that walks. I'm trying so hard to work out whose voice Patrick is imitating in the verses, I'm guessing a deeper version of Elvis, but nevertheless it suits him down to the ground.
If heaven's grief brings hell's rain, then I'll trade all my tomorrows for just one yesterday.

The Mighty Fall feat Big Sean - Am I the only one that expected a Nightmare Before Christmas-esque track from the opening jingle bells? I'll admit this is one that's fallen off my radar while playing the album since it came out. No offence to 'Big Sean', but this ain't no 'Thriller', it just seems to hip-hop for my liking. I commend FOB for keeping their electric guitars competing in the background, but the bass drum drives me mental. It just doesn't seem to have as much structure as FOB are known for. I wouldn't surprise if the band drop this song from their gig setlists.
Cause you think your only crime is that you got caught.

Miss Missing You - This is such a relate-able ballad once you see past the opening which is definitely not traditional Fall Out Boy, but as I keep saying, this is a natural progression for a pop-punk band and it grew on me the moment I first heard it. This is definitely a favourite of mine, not only for the completely relevant lyrics which I've always loved about FOB but also the catchiness and the clashing optimistic beat which I can't help tapping my fingers to. Honorable mention (kudos to anyone who got this reference) goes to the last 20 seconds, closing off an upbeat song with a morose sentiment that reminds me of 'Golden' from Infinity On High.
The person that you'd take a bullet for is behind the trigger.

Death Valley - Very pop, that's how I can describe the opening to this track, but the lyrics try hard to keep Fall Out Boy's spirit alive. Actually, this track completely embodies MCR's Danger Days album, using the same kind of tricks to work their way into the mainstream market while somehow maintaining their original underground charm. As I've mentioned before, I wasn't the biggest fan of Danger Days, so in turn I'm not the greatest fan of Death Valley, it's not the typical FOB anthem that reaches out to listeners. Or at least it doesn't reach out to me. Especially not the slip into dubstep near the end.
I wanna see your animal side, let it all out, oh there you go, undress to impress.

Young Volcanoes - Oh my, I love the optimism of this, not only because it's breaking FOB's old pessimistic mould, but because it suits their new kind of music so perfectly. You almost feel as if Patrick's sat next to you with an acoustic resting on his knee, it's such an intimate recording. I challenge you to listen to this without tapping your toes, clicking your fingers or at least boogieing in the slightest.
We will teach you how to make boys next door out of assholes.

Rat A Tat Tat feat Courtney Love - Courtney Love makes an appearance, bet you didn't see that one coming eh? Me neither. Now I don't know enough about her to make an informed judgement, because I've only ever seen the episode of The Osbournes where Jack goes round to her house and she's talking absolute heroin-fuelled jibberish. But judging instead by her contribution to this song, my initial impression wasn't far off, although her gravelly approach does fit quite well into this track, she's definitely bringing a Joan Jett theme, which is fine by me. People can criticise this track for being stupidly distant from their old style, but that's a shallow criticism. It's got equal energy to the anthems adorning Folie A Deux, just because the track name isn't as catchy. I raise issue with those who disagree with this album being too different to what FOB are known for - if they produced the same old albums, they'd be thrown straight on the garbage dump. They've grown up, so has the music, and so have we as listeners. But I'll admit this is a song that I could easily get bored of.
We're all fighting growing old in the hopes of a few minutes more.

Save Rock And Roll feat Elton John - Saving the best for last! Hold your breath readers, I could ramble about this one all day. Yes, Rock Sound were right, we waited through 10 tracks to get a keychange, and boy was it worth the wait.
First off, allow me to address the controversy over Elton John's collaboration here. Everyone on Twitter was in complete shock that Elton joined our favourite punks, yet they seem to have conveniently forgotten Elvis Costello's appearance for What A Catch, Donnie. Fall Out Boy are huge outside of our fan circles too, and it's no surprise Elton's jumped on the bandwagon (it's now full so catch another). Don't get me wrong, I couldn't be more grateful he has, because he's contributed to the greatest song on this album and, potentially, Fall Out Boy's entire career.
Chicago Is So Two Years Ago was my favourite track off Take This To Your Grave, and the minute I played Save Rock And Roll and heard the lyrics again, I burst into tears. It instantly brought back the fear I felt when I first heard What A Catch Donnie, the fear that they're saying goodbye through the words they've said before. 'Until your breathing stops forever' should imply that Fall Out Boy will be with us until we die, I can't help but think this is a goodbye. But I'm reassured once I hear Elton's piano trailing its way in, creating the atmosphere for the rest of the tracks.
The lyrics throughout this entire track are haunting and will stay with you, no doubt about it. Not only the words, but Patrick's back to his soulfully emotive singing style that we've always loved, and we're left hanging on every word. The echoes of his voice paint a picture of Patrick sitting in a recording studio singing to himself, his words echoing around him.
I never thought Elton's voice would fit in with Patrick's, but you hear in the bridge just how harmoniously their styles sync together, because we all know they're the greatest male vocalists both at making powerful emotional pleas and at extending notes.
You hear their voices fading away in the closing minute and you can't help but will them to stay. How could it come to an end? Elton's final note is enough to bring me to tears and before I know it, the album's over.
I've picked my ultimate favourite lyric below but only because it applies to me right now, but every single word has become my favourite lyric since the moment I first heard this song. Forget what you already know - this is Fall Out Boy at their best.
I cried tears you'll never see, so f**k you, you can go cry me an ocean, and leave me be.

I've never been taken on such an emotional rollercoaster by an album before. We've started at revenge, snaked through regret and self-doubt, stopped a little longer than expected at energy and optimism, and finished up at Guilt Station.

5 favourite tracks in order?
1. Save Rock And Roll
2. Alone Together.
3. The Phoenix.
4. Miss Missing You.
5. My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light 'Em Up).

Tracks to skip
Death Valley and The Mighty Fall probably, but you have to give them a listen at least once to appreciate that Fall Out Boy has changed, to ignore them would be to ignore the years that have passed since Folie.

Overall Rating - 9/10
I wanted so desperately to give this album a full house, but it's thanks to the rather pop-appealing two tracks I just mentioned that I can't give it full marks. Other than those, however, this album as a whole is completely phenomenal and definitely not what we expected from their return from hiatus, but in all the best ways. I'll definitely be out buying this album when it's released on Monday, because I owe this band my life, and the least I can do is fund any possible future albums. Who knows, my contribution might make the difference between them returning to another hiatus or staying put!

If you haven't already listened in, click here to go to the YouTube playlist.

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