9 incredible tracks you need in your life – August 2016

This month has been a fantastic month for musical announcements, especially leading up to a number of records being released next month.  Here’s my round-up of the best new music releases over the past few weeks.

Trophy Eyes – Heaven Sent

Trophy Eyes have released a slower, post-hardcore sounding track in the lead-up to their next record’s release.  The lyrics are pretty powerful, and I look forward to hearing more from this band.

Yellowcard – The Hurt Is Gone

Yellowcard’s upcoming album marks the end of the band’s career, and this track suggests that they’re pulling out all the stops to make their final record their best yet.

Twin Atlantic – The Chaser

The Scottish rock band’s next record comes out next month, and I can’t wait to hear the full album! Singles such as this one suggest the album will be full of party-ready rock tracks.

A Day To Remember – Naivety

Anyone worried that A Day To Remember’s next record wouldn’t have enough pop-punk influenced tracks will have been proved wrong with this song.  To me it sounds like their upcoming record Bad Vibrations will have a solid mix of pop-punk and heavier, more hardcore tracks.

Of Mice & Men – Real

This track is one of Of Mice & Men’s least heavy numbers, with Austin making the switch to clean vocals during the verses. It seems that the band are attempting to capitalise further on the success of their previous record and launch themselves further into the mainstream limelight.  This evolved sound may not be for everyone, but I say good for them.

Slaves – Spit It Out

With a DIY style music video similar to their previous videos in style, Slaves have made their triumphant return to the limelight with new music.  It seems like only yesterday their debut Are You Satisfied? was released, but I’m definitely not complaining about more material from the Kent punk rockers.

You Me At Six – Night People

You Me At Six announced their return this month, with a new record planned for release in January of next year.  It sounds like the band are aiming for a slightly heavier sound than their previous album Cavalier Youth, which I think is welcome.

Don Broco – Everybody

To me, this song shows Don Broco flexing their muscles a bit and having some fun.  This track is a very strong offering, and the video is weirdly hilarious.  If I don’t see videos of crowds doing the cowboy dance at alternative club nights soon, I’ll be pretty disappointed.

Green Day – Bang Bang

Following frontman Billy Joe’s stint in rehab and the subsequent flop of their trio of records released in 2012, I think a lot of Green Day fans were a little worried about what the band would do next.  But fear not: the punk-rock trio are back with an explosive and politically charged lead single for their next album.

What do you think of these tracks? Are there any singles I missed off this list? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

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Music: My Reading & Leeds festival line-up highlights

As everyone who likes festivals and live music will know, Reading & Leeds festivals take place this weekend.  This year’s Reading festival sold out, which I haven’t seen since I started following the festivals in 2013.  Whilst I don’t think this year’s line-up is their strongest (which I think is proven by the fact that the organisers felt they needed to have dual headliners on two out of three days), there are some fantastic bands on the bill.  Here’s my list of the best bands playing the festival this weekend.

Foals

Since I picked up their latest record What Went Down, I’ve grown more and more interested in this Oxford indie band, and I wish I could see them live this weekend.

Die Antwoord

One of my electronic/alternative favourites, I missed out on seeing Die Antwoord at Leeds festival in 2014 due to them clashing with another band.  I’d still love to see them live, so I’m jealous of everyone at R&L this year!

Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes 

Of course I want to see The Rattlesnakes live.  If you know anything about this blog, dear reader, it should be that I’m obsessed with The Rattlesnakes and everything they do.  Maybe someday I’ll get to see them live, but for now it’s obviously not meant to be.  Sad face.

Slaves

I still have yet to see Slaves perform live, but from the videos and stories I’ve seen about their shows, the punk duo look like they know how to throw a party.  I’d love the opportunity to hear some tracks off their upcoming album too.

Coheed And Cambria

Now, I haven’t heard much of this band’s music, but I think the vocalist has a very interesting voice and I really enjoy listening to their tracks.  I’d be very interested to see these guys live.

Fatherson

I watched these guys support Enter Shikari in 2015, and I thought they put on a really good performance. It would be cool to see how they perform on a bigger stage in front of a festival crowd.

So, these are my Reading and Leeds recommendations.  If you take the time to see these bands, I reckon you’ll have a fantastic weekend.

Are you looking forward to attending Reading and Leeds this year?  Can you think of any awesome bands I missed? Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Reviews: How have my opinions changed? altrocklife revisits old reviews

Today I thought I’d go back and look over some of the records I’ve reviewed over the years here at altrocklife.  I always write reviews whilst listening to albums for the first time, so they make for a good analysis of my first impressions.  However, often these first impressions no longer represent my feelings about an album after I’ve listened to it three or three hundred more times.  I often make predictions about how I’ll feel about an album in the long term, so I thought I’d go back, re-read my old reviews of some of these albums, and decide if those predictions were correct.

Biffy Clyro – Ellipsis (Deluxe)

When I reviewed this album last month, I said that I found the record daring and unpredictable, but the track Small Wishes was very much out of place.  I’ll be honest, it is a little jarring when Small Wishes plays, and it’s definitely the outlier of the album.  However, it doesn’t disrupt my listening experience too much, and I enjoy the record now much more than I did when I initially reviewed it.  Learnig Simon’s lyrics following multiple listens has definitely improved my listening experience.

Pierce The Veil – Misadventures

Whilst I didn’t do a full review of this record (I featured it in my June album haul), I did say that I wasn’t sure whether it would top their previous album, Collide With The Sky.  I’ve listened to it a few more times, and whilst I do enjoy Misadventures a lot, their previous record is still my favourite by the band. I was very passionate about Collide With The Sky, and I still am, so their latest effort had very big shoes to fill, and it didn’t quite manage that for me.

Bullet For My Valentine – Venom (Deluxe)

If you read my review of this album, you’ll be aware that I was definitely not a fan.  I’ve since made a few more attempts to listen to the record, and it still falls just as flat as ever for me.  To be honest, I’ve definitely grown out of the style of music that BFMV produce: if you’re still into it, then good for you and I hope you enjoyed Venom, but I certainly didn’t, and I’m not one to write a positive review if I didn’t feel positive about the record.

Don Broco – Automatic (Deluxe)

As per my prediction, I did add a number of tracks from this record to my party playlist, and enjoyed them whilst sunbathing in my back garden and drinking a cider.  I still think that the effort Don Broco put into the album is obvious, as the production value is much higher.  The record retained the attitude of Priorities but managed to smooth out the rough edges.

Young Guns – Ones And Zeros 

In this review, I stated that I wasn’t sure whether I’d end up enjoying this record more than their 2012 record Bones.  In hindsight, Ones And Zeros just didn’t deliver the raw emotional and musical impact than their previous record did, and it doesn’t feel like Young Guns reached their full potential with it.  If any other band had released Ones And Zeros I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more because it didn’t follow Bones…if that makes sense?  As a standalone record it is good, and I did enjoy it, but in my eyes it just wasn’t as good as Young Guns have proven themselves capable of.

Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways

One of my only criticisms of this record was that, with only eight tracks, Sonic Highways felt a bit too short for me.  This still harks true: even now, almost two years after its release, I still expect another track or two to follow the album closer I Am A River.  Hopefully whatever Foo Fighters does next will pack more of a hefty punch.

What did you think of these records?  Do you still feel the same about them as you did on first listen? Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

News: Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes announce UK tour

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a massive fan of everything Frank Carter puts his name to. From Gallows, to Pure Love, and now to Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes, in my eyes this man can do no wrong.  I honestly have to restrain myself every time I write about one of his musical ventures just in case I sound too much like a rabid fangirl.

The band celebrated the first birthday of their debut album, Blossom, last Sunday: if you still haven’t heard this record, you can check out my review here.  They’ve been headlining gigs and playing festivals across Europe this summer, that is until Frank majorly messed up his back in Berlin.  You can see his Facebook post about the incident here.

Even though Frank’s back ended up so messed up the band had to cancel a handful of festival appearances, I’m certain that he’ll be back at full strength in time for their November UK tour, announced on Monday.  Unfortunately it looks like I won’t be able to attend: I’m in Bournemouth for my graduation on the Nottingham date, but I leave Bournemouth before the band play The Winchester. Needless to say, I’m absolutely gutted at missing out on another chance to see this fantastic band live.  Here are the tour dates: hopefully you’ll be more fortunate than myself and be able to attend your nearest date!  Tickets go on sale tomorrow morning from 10am.

  • 2/11 – Gorilla, Manchester
  • 3/11 – Bongo Club, Edinburgh
  • 4/11 – Tunnels, Aberdeen
  • 6/11 – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
  • 7/11 – Key Club, Leeds
  • 8/11 – Fleece, Bristol
  • 10/11- Electric Ballroom, London
  • 11/11 – The Winchester, Bournemouth
  • 13/11 – The Bullingdon, Oxford
  • 14/11 – Concorde 2, Brighton
  • 15/11 – Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton

The band will also be playing at Reading & Leeds Festivals later this month, but if you’re still unsure about whether to attend, you’ll have to choose Leeds as Reading has sold out!

Are you excited for Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes’ upcoming tour? Are you planning to attend any of the above dates? Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Lifestyle: Where do you draw the line between cruelty free products and a vegetarian/vegan diet?

You may remember from last month that I wrote a post discussing my favourite Lush products, which is a brand well known for being 100% vegetarian and cruelty free. Following that post, I’ve been pondering my stance on consuming products where animals have been harmed in some way, whether through my dietary choices or cosmetics.  Honestly, I’m not 100% sure where I stand yet, so I thought I’d write down my thoughts and hopefully get a discussion going with you, my lovely readers.

First of all, I’ve reduced my consumption of animal products over the past 18 months or so.  In May 2015 I became pescetarian, which means I cut out all animal flesh from my diet except for fish and other forms of seafood.  This was for two reasons – I didn’t think I would commit to full vegetarianism straight away so I wanted to ease myself into it, and I also really love(d) calamari and teriyaki salmon.  However, my last taste of fish was some fancy salmon mousse on New Year’s Day, and since then no animal flesh has passed my lips (except for the time my Stepdad accidentally gave me some pasta with ham in).

My current rule is that I won’t eat an animal product if the animal has had to die for me to be able to consume it. This includes all flesh, gelatine (made from animal bones) and rennet (made from calf stomach lining), and means that I still consume milk, eggs, and other dairy products.

This rule also means that I won’t purchase products made of leather (excluding the leather bag my Mum bought me for my birthday last year), suede or other animal skins, but I will by products made of wool.  When I move away from diet and consider cosmetics, this is where the line between what I can and cannot purchase becomes to blur.

For me, my reasoning for becoming vegetarian (and eventually aiming to become vegan) consists of two main factors. The first is that I am against the unnecessary cruelty involved in the farming industry. The second is that I have found that I am capable of living a healthy life and meeting all of my dietary and nutritional requirements with a vegetarian diet, plus iron supplements.  However, like meat products, soap and conditioner are not life necessities for me: even though I wouldn’t have many friends if I didn’t wear deodorant, I wouldn’t die without it.  This video ( which includes some strong language, by the way) by Australian lifestyle and beauty YouTuber Nibbles Official explains that side of the argument quite well, whilst also going into why she herself doesn’t follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Most of the toiletries I buy are already cruelty free. A number of them aren’t vegan as they contain products such as honey, but because I am only vegetarian at the moment I’m happy to still use toiletries containing animal products.  The main area where I struggle to draw the line is make-up and other cosmetics.  According to the RSPCA, it is illegal to sell products in the EU which have been tested on animals or have ingredients which have been tested on animals, which means that all of the products on the shelves at Boots are cruelty free.  This is reassuring, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean that the brands themselves are totally cruelty free, because China legally requires cosmetic companies to test their products on animals before they can be sold in the country.  That means that companies that do sell their products in China do still test some of their products on animals.

This is why I struggle to draw the line: if the make-up brands I use sell their products in China and therefore test on animals, should I stop purchasing from those brands, even though I know the products on UK shelves haven’t been tested themselves?  Am I OK with supporting a brand who does test on animals under certain conditions, even though the products I buy are cruelty free?  Again, make-up isn’t a life essential (although you might think it is if you knew how long I spent on my eyebrows in the morning), so shouldn’t I work harder to ensure that my purchases do not enable or condone animal suffering?

I’d be very interested to hear from my followers, whether you use cruelty free products, are vegetarian or vegan, or just have a strong opinion on the subject. Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

News: The Lion And The Wolf announces second album ‘The Cardiac Hotel’ and new label

If you’re a long term altrocklife reader, then you’ll know that I’ve been a big fan of The Lion And The Wolf AKA singer-songwriter-guitarist Thomas George for quite a while.  My love affair started when I reviewed his first full-length record, Symptoms, for Scene Better Days, and the musician has only improved from there.  He’s played dozens of live shows in the UK and Europe, both in support of PJ Bond and his own headline gigs.  Basically, I think he’s a real talent, and I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground, ready to report back on any news from him.

Imagine my delight when yesterday The Lion And The Wolf made not one, but TWO announcements!  First off, the musician has now been signed to a new label, Xtra Mile Recordings.  Like myself, the record label were impressed with George’s DIY outlook and drive to produce his debut record, and have now decided that this is the time to add him to their roster.

Not only that, but The Cardiac Hotel, George’s second full length record, will be released on October 2nd through Xtra Mile Recordings and Grand Hotel van Cleef. During the announcement on his Facebook page, The Lion And The Wolf said:

The idea that both of these labels are behind me and believe in The Lion and the Wolf makes my heart swell with pride and sets my weathered soul alight.

This latest record was heavily inspired by his father, who unfortunately has been the victim of illness over the past couple of years.  Such emotional and heartfelt subject matter is standard fare for The Lion And The Wolf, who describes his genre as “crushing melancholy”.  The first single from the upcoming record is entitled Find The Time, and was inspired by repeated hospital visits where the outcome is uncertain.  You can listen to the track below:

What did you think of The Lion And The Wolf’s latest single? Are you looking forward to The Cardiac Hotel?  Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Lifestyle: My Pokémon GO playlist

Before I get started on this blog post, I’m well aware that I’m very late jumping on the Pokémon GO bandwagon.  Unfortunately until very recently my phone storage was completely full, and until I bought a new SD card the other day I just didn’t have the space to download the app.  Thankfully, now I have the app and my days have been filled with Pokémon hunting, egg hatching and plenty of Pokéstop visits.

I’m sure there are still a couple of people on the planet who don’t know anything about the app, so here’s a quick run down: Pokémon GO is a phone app inspired by the Nintendo-owned Japanese franchise, Pokémon, which involves our heroes Ash, Misty and Brock travelling the world to hunt superpowered creatures.  In the case of the app, you play as a Pokémon trainer who walks around your local area, hunting wild Pokémon using GPS to track them down.  You can visit Pokéstops (which, in my town, are located in churches, community centres, local landmarks and art installations) to stock up on supplies, and battle other trainers at Gyms.  The goal is to power up your Pokémon until they’re strong enough to take over your local Gym and defend it from the other opposing teams.

Whilst I’ve been out and about, wandering around my town and visiting Pokéstops, I’ve found myself listening to the same tracks over and over again.  I thought that today I’d recreate my Pokémon GO playlist on Spotify and share it with you all, obviously beginning with the show’s theme song, so hopefully it will inspire you to go out and get hunting.   The playlist features some classic rock to get you prepared for the long walk ahead, and newer more energetic tracks that will hype you up for battle.

What do you think of my track selection?  Do you have your own Pokémon GO playlist? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.