How to manage your transition wardrobe

If your weather is anything like mine is here in Bournemouth, planning your outfit each day is becoming more and more of a task.  The British weather is at that annoying in-between stage, where you don’t want to be that person wearing shorts and flip-flops on a rainy day, but equally you don’t want to be wearing a heavy coat on the warmest day of the week.  Oh Mother Nature, why must you be so fickle and cruel?

But have no fear, altrocklife is here to help!  Here are my top tips for managing the awkward spring weather.

Check the weather forecast the night before, as well as in the morning

Getting an idea of what the weather will be like before you go to bed will help to reduce stress in the morning.  In order to even further reduce stress, I tend to pick out the next day’s outfit in the evening and have it ready for when I wake up.  Make sure you double check the weather before you get dressed in the morning, in case the forecast takes a turn for the worst (or best!).  These bands of high and low pressure are extremely fickle.

Take humidity into account

Ah, humidity, the destroyer of hairstyles.  And potentially outfits, if you ignore it!  Maybe the temperature is only going to reach a high of thirteen or fourteen celsius, but if you pair that with 91% humidity it could end up being a sticky day.  On days with low(ish) temperatures and high humidity, I’d recommend a couple of lightweight layers paired with rolled-up jeans and ankle boots, to keep you from sweating everywhere or getting chilly as the evening rolls in.

Layering is your best friend

No longer do you have to put on a bra, vest, t-shirt, jumper, coat and scarf before leaving the house, hooray!  As soon as April comes around it’s officially time to work thick, bulky items out of your wardrobe.  Say goodbye to knitted scarves, thick jumpers, beanies and heavy coats until October.  Instead, if you’re still feeling the chill layer up a cami, shirt and statement jacket underneath a lightweight mac.  Plus, tights under shorts are definitely a thing.  Stay looking summery and chilled whilst protecting your pins from the spring chill.

(Also, by removing the bulky items from your wardrobe, you suddenly open up way more space for new summer clothes!  Perfect.)

Chuck a coat over a summery outfit 

This tip is a bit of a cop-out, but something I do on the regular.  If you’ve put together a lovely, lightweight warm-weather outfit only to realise it’s going to be cold all day, wear it anyway with a nice colour-coordinating coat over the top.  Wear the coat open to show off your outfit while you’re indoors, but as soon as you leave the office or uni button that bad boy up to keep the chill at bay.  Et voila!  You can still look on-trend and lovely in your nice warm office, and if you look a bit bundled up on the way home, who cares?  Secretly, everyone’s jealous that they’re not brave enough to wear such a summery outfit.

What are your transition wardrobe tips? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Currently listening to: Out Of The BlackRoyal Blood

#OOTD: 27/04/15

Last week the weather was absolutely glorious, with the temperature reaching highs of 20 degrees here in beautiful Bournemouth.  Unfortunately I was at university every day so unable to enjoy the beach, but that didn’t stop me dressing for the weather!  Here are two of my favourite outfits from last week, that’s right, you get two outfits instead of just one!  You can’t say  I don’t treat my readers well.

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O U T F I T # 1

Sunglasses: Become Antique
Leather jacket:
Playsuit, boots: New Look
Gift shop (can’t remember the name, oops!)

The forecast on the day I wore this outfit didn’t look as promising as the rest of the week, so I took my leather jacket with me as protection from the occasional chilly sea breeze.  I did risk bare legs for the first time this year, though, and I think I got away with it! The pink detail around the hem of the playsuit and tortoiseshell sunglasses add a bit of colour to what otherwise would have been a pretty monochromatic outfit.  I get paranoid wearing short flippy skirts without any leggings or tights underneath, so playsuits are a perfect compromise.

O U T F I T # 2

Denim shirt: New Look
Crop top, jeans, belt: 
Sandals: Shoezone
Necklace: Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair

Double denim is still my faithful friend, and this outfit is perfect for warmer days.  The crop top and rolled up jeans add a couple of cheeky flashes of skin, while the long sleeves of the denim shirt help to protect my pasty arms from sunburn.  The gold details of my belt buckle, necklace and sandals make the outfit look more premium than it actually is, considering half of the items were bought in Primark.

What do you think of these outfits? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Currently listening to: Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?Arctic Monkeys

Review: Lifestyle Brand

Check out my latest Scene Better Days review!

Scene Better Days

Before I get started on this review, I have to make the disclaimer that I’ve never really listened to ska before. Imperial Leisure are a little out of my comfort zone, and before today if I saw their music on the shelves of a music store I’d probably walk right past.

That’s what I like about Scene Better Days: I’m always being encouraged to broaden my horizons. If you’re in the same boat as me, a ska novice who let the genre pass you by, I recommend you get listening to Imperial Leisure ASAP.

There are albums that just scream summer, and Lifestyle Brand is one of them. I can see this album being played in parks, beer gardens and beaches up and down the country. The sun is starting to emerge and spring has well and truly sprung in the UK. Lifestyle Brand is fun and upbeat, with witty…

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Review: Shadowmaker (Deluxe)

Today marks the UK release of Apocalyptica’s eighth studio album, Shadowmaker.  I’ve been a fan of Apocalyptica for a long time, ever since I stumbled across their 2007 collaboration with Three Days Grace’s ex-singer Adam Gontier, I Don’t Care.

To anyone reading who may not be familiar with the Finnish cello-metal band, the concept may seem a little strange.  “But cellos are classical instruments!” I hear you cry! Well since their formation in 1993, Apocalyptica have combined said cellos with thrashing percussion and heavy hitting vocals from famous names in the metal world.  Apocalyptica have collaborated with Slipknot/Stone Sour vocalist Corey Taylor, Rammstein’s Till Lindemann and The Rasmus’s  Lauri Ylönen, amongst others.  They even started life as a Metallica cover band!  Just watch any of their music videos to get an idea of how the band manage to write flawless metal songs using classical instruments.

Shadowmaker certainly differs from the rest of Apocalyptica’s original work in that all of the songs with vocals are sung by the same vocalist, Franky Perez.  This adds another level of continuity to the album, making it feel more like a complete album and less like a collection of singles lumped together.

The instrumental tracks are outstanding: they flow beautifully, and definitely don’t struggle due to their lack of vocals.  In fact, the instrumentals throughout the entire album are excellent.  Considering Shadowmaker is Apocalyptica’s eighth album, the band are still more than capable of producing interesting and original music.

The deluxe version, which I listened to on Spotify, is 12 tracks long, adding up to just over an hour of cello-metal goodness.  A few of the tracks are pretty lengthy (Dead Man’s Eyes is almost 10 minutes long) but if anything the album was over with too quickly.  Shadowmaker is an extremely dynamic album and a triumph from beginning to end: it doesn’t flag, drag or run out of energy at any point.

Whether you’re an Apocalyptica veteran or you only heard of them for the first time today, this album is a must-listen LP for 2015.  The Finnish five-piece will certainly find Shadowmaker difficult to top in years to come.

Highlights: Slow Burn, Reign Of Fear, Riot Lights, Till Death Do Us Part

#OOTD: 16/04/15

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far in the UK!  Unfortunately I was stuck in Lincolnshire, miles inland, while my friends sunned themselves on Bournemouth beach.  That didn’t stop me channelling summer vibes when I chose my outfit though!

Last week I wrote about my summer 2015 haul.  A few days after I went into town, not expecting to spend any money, and left New Look with this beautiful dress.  So consider this post an update to my summer wardrobe!

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Dress, boots: New Look
Sunglasses: Become Antique
Necklace: Vintage Promise

I absolutely love combining light, feminine florals with darker, grungier pieces.  The dress comes with some light padding in the chest, which is good because the back is a little too low which makes wearing a bra awkward.

Bamboo sunglasses are super on-trend at the moment – combined with the tortoise-shell frames, my favourite sunnies are a winner.

If I was off to the beach I’d add a black kimono and black strappy sandals.  If I was wearing this outfit on a casual day out I’d add a cardigan and some boat shoes or lace-up trainers.  This dress could also be worn on a night out, and I’d pair it with some wedge sandals and boho gold bangles.

What do you think of this outfit? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Currently listening to: Another YouOf Mice & Men

Review: Into The Wild Life (Deluxe)

Halestorm’s third full length album was released today in the UK.  It’s about time a new rock/alt-rock/punk/hardcore album was released, as I haven’t been able to get stuck into some new music for a long time!

In all honesty, I haven’t been a fan of Halestorm for long.  They were one of those bands that I’d heard of but never got round to listening to until very recently, when a good friend spammed me with links to their music videos.  Since then, I’ve been hooked.  There’s a lack of strong female voices in the world or rock and alternative music, but Lzzy Hale is one of them.

Anyway, back to Into The Wild Life.  I’m listening to the deluxe version on Spotify, which contains 15 songs and almost an entire hour’s worth of triumphant, unapologetic rock ‘n’ roll.  I knew I’d enjoy this album on first listen to the singles Apocalyptic, Mayhem and Amen, which are anthems in their own right.

The percussion-fuelled intro to Sick Individual is incredible, and a testament to the talents of drummer Arejay Hale.  Even in the band’s music videos, Arejay’s enthusiasm and energy is infectious, and the percussion has always been on-point throughout Halestorm’s previous albums.

Lzzy’s vocals perfect, as is to be expected.  To steal a quote from A Game Of Thrones, her voice is “honey poured over thunder“: beautiful and pitch-perfect in the verses, only just disguising her ferocity and raw power.  This is demonstrated in Dear Daughter, an inspirational piano-led ballad.

Dear Daughter represents a shift in Into The Wild Life’s pace: here the album slows down a little, with more focus on Lzzy’s voice. It picks up again thanks to Mayhem, but slows once more for Bad Girl’s World.  This just goes to show how the album varies stylistically from track to track, which makes for a refreshing and unpredictable listening experience.  It’s always good to hear bands experimenting and dipping their toe into new genres.

Overall, Into The Wild Life is an excellent effort by Halestorm, and if you were a fan of their previous two albums, you’ll definitely enjoy this one.

Highlights: I Am The Fire, Gonna Get Mine, I Like It Heavy, Unapologetic

altrocklife’s summer 2015 haul

As per usual, whenever I come home on a break from university my Mum, sister and myself go on at least one major shopping trip.  We are each others’ hype men and harshest critics: we build each other up when we pick out items that look fantastic, but ruthlessly tear each other down if we make a fashion faux pas.

On our latest shopping trip, we had one objective: start working on our summer wardrobes.  I grew out of all of my swimming costumes last summer so I was in desperate need of a new one.  Plus, rather than going on a spending spree a couple of weeks before we jet off to Spain in July, we figured that spreading the cost over multiple trips would be a little more merciful for our bank balances.

Don’t get me wrong: a number of items I purchased last summer will make do for this summer as well.  As much as I wish for it, my purse has yet to become an infinite source of money.  However, I was in desperate need of a summer wardrobe refresher.  I decided to focus on the essentials (my new swimming costume) plus a couple of key pieces which will help to refresh last year’s wardrobe and insert some key 2015 trends.

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Bikini: New Look, £17.99 for the top and £9.99 for the bottoms
Shorts: New Look, £14.99
Kimono: New Look, £14.99
Flip-flops: Primark, £3
Crop top: Primark, £3
Jim Beam t-shirt: Primark, £8
Of Mice & Men vest: Full Circle Tour merchandise, £25

As you can see, I colour coordinated many of my new purchases ready to wear on the beach this summer.  I’ll be using the kimono as a cover-up whilst sunbathing in my bikini, and the flip-flops will be perfect for walking on hot sand.

I chose a neutral pair of chino shorts so they can be part of my suitcase-friendly capsule summer wardrobe, matching pretty much every t-shirt, blouse and vest I own.  Plus, chinos are light and airy, perfect for humid summer days in Spain.

I don’t expect to tan this summer (that would be far too ambitious a goal), but I chose vests and short-sleeved t-shirts so I can start building up my usual covering of freckles on my arms and shoulders.  They’re all made of light material, and aside from the Of Mice & Men vest everything is fairly loose-fitting.  This should be more comfortable as the temperature rises.

What do you think of what I’ve bought?  What are your summer wardrobe essentials?  Let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Currently listening to: Heroes (We Could Be)Mallory Knox (Alesso cover for the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge)

altrocklife’s guide to going to gigs with grown-ups

If you’re under 18, you’ve probably attended a gig with your parent(s), a guardian, other relative or parents of friends.  Now, this post isn’t a parent-bashing rant: I’m well aware that I wouldn’t have been able to attend lots of the gigs I have without parental supervision.  In fact, I wouldn’t be going to see Foo Fighters in June if my Mum and Stepdad hadn’t paid for the tickets.  Plus, I couldn’t have gone to Of Mice & Men in Nottingham last Thursday if my Dad hadn’t been around to give us a lift.  Ah, the woes of not being able to drive and living in the middle of nowhere.

However, I’m definitely more fortunate than others, as my parents and I share a lot of the same music taste.  The vast majority of the time, if I ask a parent if they can accompany me to a gig their response is about as enthusiastic as mine.  In fact, I think my Mum is more excited about seeing Foo Fighters live than I am, and that’s saying something!

But if you’re stuck with a parent or guardian who isn’t into the same music as you are, they might end up channelling this member of security staff, below, which could make the experience a lot less fun for everyone involved.

Security staff member at an event facepalms with Black Veil Brides performing in the background
It’s OK, security person, it’ll all be over soon.

Here are my top tips for making a gig the best it can be, not only for you, but for the adults supervising you:

Try and pay for your own ticket if you can, or at least contribute to transport costs

Parents and guardians will be more likely to agree to take you to a gig if you can pay your own way.  If you’re being taken by the family of a friend, offering to pay for your own train ticket or handing over some petrol money will show that you’re responsible, and understand the costs that these grown-ups have to incur for you to attend this gig.  The more you can demonstrate this, the more likely they’ll start allowing you to go to gigs by yourself sooner.

Listen to the band’s music with them before the gig

Whether this means putting on the band’s CD in the car, or sharing headphones on the train while you listen to their latest single, giving the grown-up some of the band’s music to listen to (and listening to it with them) will make them feel included.  They’re more likely to accompany you to gigs again if you don’t act like you’re just using them as a glorified taxi.

Find stuff for the grown-ups to do while you’re at the concert

This point doesn’t apply if the accompanying grown-up has a ticket for the gig themselves, but only if they’re acting as chauffeurs.  If you’re attending a gig in an unfamiliar town or city, your grown-up may feel like their only option is to sit in the car until it’s over, which sucks for them!  Do a little research before the gig and find some nice restaurants, a cinema, some evening tourist attractions and maybe a sports bar for your grown-up(s) to visit while you’re busy enjoying the concert.

Be prepared for the grown-up to start an argument with other concert-goers

True story: my Mum started a fight with the guy sat behind me when we saw My Chemical Romance at Nottingham Capital FM Arena because he kept drunkenly hitting me in the back of the head and pouring his beer over me.  Parents and guardians will be extra protective and territorial at gigs, so beware.

And last but not least, BE THANKFUL!

Make sure at every step of the way you’re making it clear that you’re aware the grown-up of choice is giving up their evening, and possibly their money, for you.  Be appreciative, and they’ll be more likely to accompany you again, next time your favourite band is in town.

What are your experiences of attending gigs with grumpy grown-ups? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Currently listening to: GoldImagine Dragons

Review: Of Mice & Men, Nottingham Rock City

Last night was a first for me: I’ve never been to a gig at Nottingham’s Rock City, and I really enjoyed myself.  It’s a really nice venue and so well laid out too: even stood at the back next to the sound pit, I still had a perfect view of the stage thanks to the step down in front of us.  My poor old camera isn’t really suited to taking pictures at gigs, but here are the best pictures I took last night:

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First up on the line-up was Volumes, and unfortunately due to having to queue for the box office we missed most of their set.  I thought it was a bit strange that they started playing so early, as doors opened at 6:30 p.m. and their set was finished by about 7:10 p.m., but maybe there was an early curfew last night.  Their performance was pretty good, even if their vocals aren’t to my taste.  I haven’t seen a crowd as excited for support acts as they were for Volumes and The Amity Affliction, who came next.  Here’s Wormholes, one of the better tracks they played last night.

Next was The Amity Affliction, who put on an awesome show.  Their performance was spot-on and they also got the crowd extremely excited.  I especially like the mixture of Ahren and Joel’s vocals, plus drummer Ryan was on point and enthusiastic throughout the set.  This is Don’t Lean On Me, the track they closed their set with.

Then Of Mice & Men took to the stage.  I was more excited to see them than usual, considering this will be my third time watching the Orange County quintet perform live.  They’re now the band I’ve seen live more than any other, and Of Mice & Men definitely deserve that honour.

This was the first time I’ve seen them headline a gig: the past two times I saw them live, they played at Leeds Festival and in support of Linkin Park at the O2.  You could definitely tell that it was their headline tour, because the entire band was full of swagger and attitude walking on stage.

As per usual, their performance was fantastic.  Their setlist had a good mixture of songs from not only their latest album and its re-issue, Restoring Force and Restoring Force: Full Circle, but from their first two albums as well.  I was really excited that they played O.G. Loko, Let Live and Second & Sebring, as well as including The Depths in the encore.  It was clear to see how excited Of Mice & Men were to be on stage, and the crowd responded with boundless excitement.

Aaron’s vocals were a little wobbly at points, which is something I’ve noticed every time we’ve seen him perform live.  This didn’t detract from the overall performance, but the night would have been improved if he didn’t have to battle quite so hard to be heard over the guitars, drums, and Austin’s vocals.  As it turns out, the crowd were singing on loudly enough to make up for Aaron’s lack of volume.

It’s a shame that Of Mice & Men probably won’t be returning to UK shores until next year, as I would love to see them live again.  It was obvious that the band really enjoyed their performance last night.  Every time I listen to Restoring Force I’ll think of last night’s gig – it was unforgettable.

Currently listening to: Hit The WaveMarmozets