7 incredible tracks you need in your life – November 2016

All of my regular readers will know the drill by now: here’s my round-up of the best tracks released over the past month.  I’ve covered a number of different genres, and tracks from both popular and more unknown bands, so hopefully you’ll discover something new and exciting in this round-up.

You Me At Six – Swear

I heard the first play of this track on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 show, and I had to stop what I was doing and listen.  The bassline of this song reminds me a little of Loverboy, but vocalist Josh’s voice and the rest of the band’s playing has definitely evolved since Sinners Never Sleep.  I’m very excited to hear the rest of their next record, due to be released next January.

Bullet For My Valentine – Don’t Need You

Those of you who’ve been following my blog for a long time may remember the scathing and extremely negative review I gave to Bullet For My Valentine’s last album, Venom.  Even though I disliked their last record, I thought it would be unfair if I didn’t give their latest single at least one listen, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  Lyrically the track is less whiny and full of cliches than their previous record, and I thought the slow-burning introduction was excellent.  Let’s hope their next releases carry on in the same vein!

Chapel – Caught Up

I’ve always been a fan of tracks with both rock and electronic influences, so this latest track by Chapel is a great one to listen to when I feel like listening to that sort of track.  Plus, the music video for this song has a fab party vibe, and makes me wish I was back at university, going to house parties every weekend.

Taking Back Sunday – I Felt It Too

If you want a chilled out, more acoustic track with a slow-building crescendo and extremely emo lyrics, this is the song for you.

Light Up The Sky – Stop Me

Light Up The Sky are one of the more recent additions to Rise Records’ roster, and I think if they keep producing tracks along the lines of Stop Me, this band could be onto a winner.

Gone Is Gone – Gift

If you want to check out more music with a grungy, low-fi vibe, Gone Is Gone could be the band for you.  I really enjoyed this track, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more from this band.

Dryjacket – Two Toasters

I really like the upbeat, indie vibe to this track.  Plus, I’m a big fan of brass being featured in guitar-led tracks, so the rogue trumpet solos adds a nice touch to the song and make it a little more unpredictable.

What did you think of these tracks? Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Lifestyle: altrocklife’s daily cosmetic essentials

This year, skincare has become extremely important to me.  I’ve spent a lot of time (and money!) investing in various products to suit my combination skin, and I’m happy to say that I think I’ve found a winning combination.  I’ve also been wearing make-up for years now, and I’m pretty happy with how my face ends up looking after 45 minutes in front of a mirror, plus an extra five minutes spent on my hair, so I decided to take you on a tour of my cosmetics and toiletries drawer.  For reference, here’s my face and hair on a good day, as well as close-ups of the products.

(P.S.: Some of the items I’ll be highlighting are not cruelty free, and I am currently using up these products before making the swap to a cruelty free alternative.  I will make it clear which items are and aren’t cruelty free, and whether they’re vegetarian or vegan.)

The best products inside my make-up bag:

Barry M Chisel Cheeks Contour Kit in Light-Medium (Cruelty free and vegan)

Even though I bought the lightest colour palette, the lightest powder pretty much matches my skin tone and the darkest powder makes me look half starved.  So, I use the middle shade to contour and the next product to highlight.

Barry M Illuminating Strobe Cream in Frosty Pink (Cruelty free and vegan)

I absolutely love this cream: it’s very easy to control whether you want a subtle glow or to shine bright like a diamond.  I don’t use blusher because my cheeks are naturally pretty rosy, so I like the subtle pink colour of this cream to give my skin more of a glow.

Soap and Glory Archery Brow Tint and Precision Pencil in Love Is Blonde (Cruelty free, unsure if vegetarian or vegan)

This is the eyebrow product I’ve been using for years, and I can’t see myself straying from Soap and Glory.  My eyebrow hair isn’t as dark as the hair on my head, so I use the brow tint to darken the hair whilst using the pencil to fill in any gaps.  And believe me, my thin eyebrows always have loads of gaps.

Arbonne It’s A Long Story Mascara (Cruelty free and vegan)

A couple of months ago I was sent a sample sized tube of this mascara by Arbonne rep Tori Waight, and I absolutely love it! I’ve been using it sparingly to try and make it last as long as possible, but it makes my eyelashes look beautifully long, and it never clumps.  Full disclosure: I was sent this with a selection of other Arbonne products for free, but I had no obligation to publish a review and this is 100% my unbiased opinion.

Some stunning skincare essentials:

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water for sensitive skin (NOT cruelty free, unsure if vegetarian or vegan)

Garnier was one of the first brands to jump on the micellar water bandwagon, and their waters are some of the best on the market.  Unfortunately Garnier are not a cruelty free brand so once my current bottle is empty, I’ll be seeking out a cruelty free alternative.

Simple Kind To Skin Cleansing Facial Wipes (NOT cruelty free, vegan)

On the odd occasion where I’m too lazy to use micellar water to remove my make-up, or if I’m not wearing make-up on a particular day and I want to refresh my skin, I’ll use these facial wipes.  They leave my skin soft and refreshed.  Again, they aren’t cruelty free so I’ll be finding an alternative soon.

Lush Vanishing Cream Moisturiser (Cruelty free and vegetarian)

Vanishing Cream has become my absolute lifesaver, and I genuinely cannot imagine myself living without it.  It has a wonderful lavender fragrance, and it’s the most intensely moisturising cream I’ve ever used, which is perfect for me and my dry, dry skin.  I can definitely believe Lush’s claim that this is one of their bestselling products.

The Body Shop British Rose Instant Glow Body Butter (Cruelty free, but owned by a parent company which isn’t cruelty free, unsure if vegetarian or vegan)

I absolutely love anything rose scented, so this body butter is perfect for me.  It sinks into the skin so quickly and leaves my arms and legs soft and smooth, with no signs of dry skin, peeling, or the dreaded scaly-looking lizard legs.

Lush Elbow Grease Moisturising Bar (Cruelty free and vegetarian)

I bought this product to help me along the process of healing my tattoos, because when my tattoos get scabby and dry, a hit of Elbow Grease helps to calm the itchiness.  Plus, I like to use it on my already healed tattoos to help them appear brighter.  The smell of this product is absolutely divine too!

The Body Shop British Rose Petal Soft Hand Cream (Cruelty free, but owned by a parent company which isn’t cruelty free, unsure if vegetarian or vegan)

Like the Body Butter mentioned above, I love the fragrance of this hand cream.  It absorbs into the skin super quickly and leaves my hands feeling soft and smooth.  My current part-time cleaning job means I’ve constantly got my hands in water or using chemicals, so I need a decent hand cream to keep my hands from completely drying out.

My weekly lip care product:

Lush Popcorn Lip Scrub (Cruelty free and vegan)

This scrub helps to prevent the build up of dead skin, especially during winter when my lips get hella chapped.  Plus, the coconut oil in the formulation means that this scrub isn’t too harsh on my lips.

Everyday hair styling:

Lush Hair Custard Hair Dressing (Cruelty free and vegetarian)

The scent of this product is absolutely divine, and it works as a medium hold product to keep my flyaway hairs in place.  It’s great value for money as well, as I’ve been using my tub since July and I’ve hardly made a dent in it!

Cien Hairspray (Cruelty free, unsure if vegetarian or vegan)

Even though this Lidl hairspray is a much cheaper alternative to other high street brands, it’s a brilliant hairspray.  It doesn’t get sticky and has a brilliant hold, so I’d recommend it to anyone.

What are your daily skincare essentials? Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

News: First half of 2017 ram-packed with fantastic UK tours

For those of you, like myself, who enjoy attending concerts, the first half of 2017 is set to be an amazing few months of live music.  These acts are absolutely fantastic, so if you manage to get tickets for a few of these tours your bank balance could end up being in serious trouble. Today I decided to round up some of the best tours coming up next year.

January 2017 – Avenged Sevenfold, dates here

This tour is the only tour on my list which I already have tickets for, and I am extremely excited to be able to see Avenged Sevenfold for the second time.  I’ll be attending the Nottingham date, and although I was already looking forward to the date, my excitement pretty much quadrupled after reviewing the band’s latest album, The Stage.

January 2017 – The Pretty Reckless, dates here

After reviewing the band’s latest record Who You Selling Formy love for The Pretty Reckless has seriously increased.  I’m hoping to be able to attend their Nottingham date on January 19th, because it promises to be a fantastic night.

February 2017 – Deaf Havana, dates here

I’ve seen these guys perform twice and I thoroughly enjoyed myself both times, so I’d love to make it a hat trick.  Again, I’d probably have to make the journey to London to catch these guys live, but it would be worth it!

February 2017 – Kings Of Leon, dates here

I’m really excited at the prospect of seeing Kings Of Leon live, considering how long I’ve been a fan of theirs.  Even if you weren’t a massive fan of their last two albums, their great live performances would make attending one of their shows worth it.

March 2017 – Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, dates here

Not wanting to rest on their laurels for too long, even though The Rattlesnakes have only just finished up a string of UK tour dates, the band announced this week that they’ll be touring yet again next March.  I’m gutted that they haven’t announced a Nottingham date, but I’m willing to make the trek to London to see these guys perform live.

March/April 2017 – Mallory Knox, dates here

I’ve been a big fan of Mallory Knox since their first mainstream success, and I really enjoyed seeing them perform live at Leeds Festival in 2014.  Unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to see them live again since, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to attend either the Cambridge, or one of the London dates.  Plus, Lonely The Brave is one of their support acts, and I’d love to see them perform live again too.

March/April 2017 – Pulled Apart By Horses, dates here

Even though I’m a fan of this band, I have yet to see Pulled Apart By Horses live, so it would be great to see them next year.

April 2017 – You Me At Six, dates here

I really enjoyed You Me At Six’s latest single, Night People, so I’d really like to see them perform it live next year.  Plus, I’ve been a fan of the band for a long time, so it would be great to hear them perform some older songs alongside the new on tour.

Are you attending any of these tours?  Are there any other awesome tours planned for 2017 that I missed off this list? Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Review: Battles

In Flames are a Swedish group who were formed back in 1990.  Their sound started off as metal, but the group was one of a few who pioneered and developed melodic death metal as a genre in its own right.  Over the years the band have released twelve full length studio albums, the first five of which came under the banner of melodic death metal.  However their sixth record, Reroute To Remain released in 2002, marks the band’s shift towards more alternative metal.  Its clear listening to the band’s latest album, Battles, that the band has stuck to that more alternative sound, and gained more mainstream success in the process.  You can hear the first single from their latest record, titled The End, below:

Battles opens with Drained, a great track with awesome riffs throughout and a really catchy chorus.  I had no idea what to expect listening to this record, as I’ve never followed In Flames as a band, so this was a great initiation for a newcomer to the band’s sound.  This is followed by above single The End, which features a cracking guitar solo and female choir-style backing vocals which give the track a real atmosphere.

Lyrically the tracks switch between more introspective lyrics surrounding the songwriter’s personal life and his place in the universe.  In the same vein, I like how some tracks are very melodic with great clean vocals and electronic elements, and others, like Through My Eyes, have chugging riffs and harsh vocals which hark back to In Flames’ melodic death metal past.  Each track has a catchy chorus which helps to tie the album together.

For me, the highlight of the record is the epic seven-minute long Wallflower, a complex track with prog metal influences and lyrics discussing the challenges which come with growing older and reflecting on past mistakes.  This song is absolutely massive and it honestly ended too soon for me.

Battles is a 14 track record, which is a pretty hefty offering that demonstrates that the band still has a lot to offer, even after multiple line-up changes and a massive change of sound.  After listening to some of In Flames’ older music, I can understand why their fanbase is so conflicted: their sound is very different now to how it was back in the ’90s and early 2000s.

Overall, considering I went into reviewing this album completely blind, I’ve really enjoyed listening to Battles.  I’m much less into more classic metal than I used to be in my younger teenage years, so that explains why I liked this record more than I liked what I heard of In Flames’ older music.  I’ve always been a sucker for a monster chorus with catchy repetitive lyrics, and this album has those in droves.  There are also plenty of electronic elements, interesting backing vocals, creative drum fills and guitar solos to keep me interested and listening intently.

So if you’re into In Flames’ older, pre-2002 music, this album probably won’t be for you.  However if you liked the band’s newer releases, Battles is the logical follow-up to their 2014 record Siren Charms.  Now that I’ve been introduced to In Flames, I’ll be following them much more closely in future.

Highlights: Drained, The Truth, Here Until Forever, Wallflower, Greatest Greed

My graduation #OOTD

On Tuesday, I had the great honour of graduating with the rest of my course mates and friends at the Bournemouth International Centre.  It was a tiring but great day, and it was brilliant to walk across the stage, wave to my family, and receive my degree.  To be honest, I didn’t have a massive budget to put together my graduation outfit, but in the end I was extremely happy with how I looked during the day.  If you’re looking to graduate on a budget, hopefully this will give you some ideas.

Dress: New Look, £28, link here
Boots: Primark, I can’t remember the exact price but they were under £20
Earrings: Flying Tiger, £3
Necklace and Bracelet: Gifts from my grandparents

I was pretty happy with the earrings I bought from Flying Tiger, considering I only purchased them the day before graduation! I did have a back-up pair in case I couldn’t pick up a gold pair, but I’m glad I managed to find these.  I didn’t even realise that Flying Tiger sold earrings, so it was a nice surprise to pick them up.

I was also extremely happy with my dress.  I tried on four different dresses in New Look, and after a lot of deliberation the burgundy dress was the one I picked.  You can’t see in the photos, but this dress has small cap sleeves, which I like because I get self conscious about the top of my arms.  I also really like that the dress has a tie at the back, which helped to emphasise my waist…again, not particularly visible with the graduation gown over the top, but it still acted as a confidence booster.

The boots were pretty comfortable to wear, considering I only took the label off of them on the morning of the ceremony!  The heels were chunky which meant they were easy to walk in, and not too high so there was no risk of me falling over on the stage.  They had gold detailing on the heel, which matched all of my jewellery and made them look and feel a bit more special.

I hope my #OOTD has given some of you some inspiration!  Did you find any bargain graduation buys this year? Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

News: Mallory Knox return with single, album and tour announcements

It’s official: everyone’s favourite Cambridge rock band is back with new music.  Mallory Knox released a pretty simple video for their latest single, Giving It Up, yesterday, and I really enjoyed the track.  You can listen to the track here:

The vocals are a little rougher around the edges than the band’s usual fare, and the bass sounds a little louder than usual which gives the song a more grungy feel.

Giving It Up has made me pretty damn excited to hear the band’s upcoming third full length album, Wired.  The record is due out next March, and I’ll be looking out to see if any more singles are released, to give me a better idea of what direction the band will be heading in.

Mallory Knox will also be heading out on tour during March and April next year to celebrate the release of their new record.  This band is absolutely fantastic live, so I definitely recommend attending one of these shows if they visit a venue near you.  Helpfully, here is the list of dates for your viewing pleasure:

  • 20/3 – O2 Academy, Bristol
  • 21/3 – Tramshed, Cardiff
  • 22/3 – UEA, Norwich
  • 24/3 – O2 Institute, Birmingham
  • 25/3 – Leadmill, Sheffield
  • 26/3 – Corn Exchange, Cambridge
  • 28/3 – Garage, Aberdeen
  • 29/3 – Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh
  • 31/3 – University Students’ Union, Newcastle
  • 1/4 – O2 Academy, Liverpool
  • 2/4 – Pyramids, Portsmouth
  • 4/4 – O2 Academy, Oxford
  • 5/4 – KOKO, London
  • 6/4 – KOKO, London

What did you think of Mallory Knox’s latest single?  Will you be heading out to see them on their UK tour next year? Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.