Celebrate #Pride2017 with the ultimate altrocklife pride playlist

The month of June is celebrated as LGBTQ+ Pride month across the world.  Its goal is to celebrate the progress being made towards equality for all LGBTQ+ people, as well as highlight the many systematic barriers left to tackle before full equality can be achieved.  The point of pride is to raise awareness of local and national issues affecting the local community, and demonstrate the LGBTQ+ community’s spirit of togetherness and cooperation.  It’s also a great opportunity to have a good ol’ knees up.

I’m lucky enough to be attending Bourne Free at the end of the month, and in preparation for the celebrations I’ve put together a playlist of my favourite pride related songs.  Some of these tracks will be by LGBTQ+ artists, some will be classic gay anthems, and some will simply be fantastic party tracks I’ve heard during my many nights at gay bars and clubs.

Some of these tracks bring back some fantastic memories for me.  Work Bitch reminds me of Bournemouth University’s Student Pride in 2016, when the Performing Arts society performed a fantastic dance routine to the track.  It takes me right back to my student days!  Woman’s World harks back to one of my best friends and ex-housemate Jason, who loves Cher with a passion.

Cool For The Summer is all I heard when I was out clubbing and at house parties when the track was released in 2015, and one of my favourite gay bars in Bournemouth is named after the classic ABBA track, Does Your Mother Know.  Plus, All The Things She Said is a classic gay anthem, as is I’m Coming Out and Proud Mary. I’m looking forward to getting this playlist on the go at Bourne Free this year.


What do you think of this playlist? Did I miss any essential tracks? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Review: How Did We Get So Dark?

Today I’m extremely excited to review How Did We Get So Dark?, the second full length album by Brighton rock duo Royal Blood.  This band burst onto the scene in late 2014 with the release of their eponymous first album, and their latest record is its highly anticipated follow-up.  The band released its first single, Lights Out, back in April, and you can watch the brilliant music video here:

Now on to the record.  The album opens with the title track, a strong opener with undulating bass throughout the verses and grungy riffs adding depth to the chorus.  It features a great outro, with fantastic drum fills and staccato backing vocals repeating the album name over and over again, which adds a creepy vibe to the song.

Then follows the lead single, Lights Out, arguably one of Royal Blood’s best tracks yet, with a catchy chorus easy to sing – or shout – along to, and a fantastic bass solo.  Next is the album’s second single, I Only Lie When I Love You, a grungy track positively dripping with swagger and attitude.  The lyrics discuss relationships and break-ups, which are a consistent lyrical theme throughout the record.  But then, isn’t love and loss present regularly in everyone’s lives?  Vocalist Mike Kerr’s voice remains as strong as ever, switching between sounding soft and emotive and louder, on the verge of shouting, with ease.  Plus, the drumming throughout the record, provided by Ben Thatcher, is masterful.

Hook, Line & Sinker is this album’s Ten Tonne Skeleton: it’s hands down the best song on the record, with fantastic catchy lyrics and imaginative instrumentals unmatched by anything else the band have put out.  It was pretty difficult for me to list my highlights of this 10-song album, because the entire record is fantastic, but Hook, Line & Sinker is truly on another level.

To me, How Did We Get So Dark? is reminiscent of Biffy Clyro’s work: the drums layered with additional percussion and higher pitched backing vocals draw parallels to their Opposites and Ellipsis albums.  Plus, the bass towards the end of Lights Out has a distinct Black Chandelier vibe.

Recently Royal Blood explained to NME that they took inspiration from David Bowie to create this album, but to me it seems clear that their influences are many and varied.  This band have been compared to Queens Of The Stone Age and Muse amongst others, and their latest album sounds like they’re trying to live up to those massive comparisons.

Overall, this record is dark and moody, and a fantastic follow-up to their first album.  My only criticism is that, at 35 minutes long, there isn’t nearly enough of How Did We Get So Dark? to keep me occupied until Royal Blood release their next album.  This band are a fantastic example of home-grown UK talent, and I’ll be following their future success very closely.

Highlights: I Only Lie When I Love You, She’s Creeping, Look Like You Know, Hook, Line & Sinker

10 great bands to see live in winter 2017

If you’ve been following alternative music news as closely as I have, you’ll know that there are some awesome bands set to play UK tours towards the end of this year.  Today I thought I’d run through some of these upcoming live dates, whether I’m planning on attending one of the gigs or just wish I could.

New Found Glory – September/October 2017, dates here

Pop punk legends New Found Glory, who are celebrating the band’s 20th year, will be visiting our shores in September/October of this year.  Their latest record was released in April, so it will be exciting for fans to hear some of those newer tracks live alongside older classics.

Metallica – October 2017, dates here

Metal giants Metallica will be returning to UK shores this October, but alas, the general sale for all of their dates have already sold out.  Bad luck to everyone who missed out!

Enter Shikari – November 2017, dates here

I already covered the news of Enter Shikari’s upcoming UK tour last month, but I had to include them in this round-up because their line-up is absolutely fantastic.  Lower Than Atlantis put on a great show, and Astroid Boys are an innovative up-and-coming band, so I’m certain this tour will be one to remember.  I’ve already seen Enter Shikari live four times, and their performances are always incredible, so I’d love to make it five in November at the Nottingham Motorpoint Arena.

Royal Blood – November 2017, dates here

Royal Blood will be performing their first ever headline arena dates this year, and I can’t wait to see them fill the huge venues with their awesome sound.  The band recently announced At The Drive In and Black Honey as their support acts, so I’m certain these dates will not disappoint.

Alice Cooper – November 2017, dates here

Rock ‘n’ roll giant Alice Cooper will be bringing his incredible live performances and stage shows back to the UK in November of this year.  If you attend one of his gigs, it’s certain to be a night you won’t forget in a hurry.

PVRIS, November 2017, dates here

PVRIS are set to release their upcoming second album, All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell in August, and a few months later they’ll be celebrating its release with a short run of UK dates.

Good Charlotte – November/December 2017, dates here

Good Charlotte’s latest album, Youth Authority, got a decent write-up here on altrocklife, so it would be awesome to see the band perform some of their new tracks live.  Plus, let’s be real, this band are pop punk legends, and it would be a nostalgia-filled trip to the past to see Good Charlotte perform live.

The Kooks – November/December 2017, dates here

Pop rock legends The Kooks are doing a Best Of tour at the end of this year, and it would be awesome to see them live.  Most people I know grew up listening to The Kooks, so I’m sure it would be fantastic to see them perform their greatest hits.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – December 2017, dates here

Everyone who’s seen The Rattlesnakes live know that this group put on an incredible show, and I’m extremely lucky to have already bought my ticket to see them in Nottingham on December 6th.  It’ll be my first time seeing The Rattlesnakes, and long term readers of altrocklife will know how long I’ve been waiting to see this band.  If you’ve got the opportunity to see them live, you’ll regret it if you don’t take it.

Marilyn Manson – December 2017, dates here

Marilyn Manson is one of the most infamous musicians on the scene, with a solid fanbase built over the past 20+ years.  You’d have to be pretty lucky to catch him during this short string of UK dates.


Have you got tickets for any of these tours?  Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Review: Hear It Calls

Hi altrocklifers! Today I’ll be reviewing the latest EP by up-and-coming Texas band, The Naked Tungs.  The four piece band put out the five track EP, Hear It Calls, yesterday, following the release of their single Valium And Vodka earlier this month.  The band have a fun, garage rock sound, and I’m excited to introduce this band to my readers.

The Naked Tungs Hear It Calls EP cover

The EP begins with opening track Someone Else, setting things off with a catchy and upbeat guitar solo, which repeats throughout the song.  Female vocalist Sarah R. provides the vocals for this track, and whilst her voice might not be technically perfect, her attitude comes across really well.  The last 30 seconds or so of the track is made up of an awesome instrumental, notable for its interesting drum fills.  Lyrically the track talks about how people can change under the influence of drugs, and this theme of partying, drugs and alcohol carries on throughout the rest of the EP.

Next up is the EP’s title track, Hear It Calls, this time sung by male vocalist Hersh C.  The higher pitched guitars and more focus on cymbals, as well as the slight echoing effect on Hersh’s voice, gives the song a more indie feel compared to others on the EP.  This is a really fun track which adds to the party vibe mentioned in the lyrics running throughout.

My favourite track on Hear It Calls is definitely Valium And Vodka, and I can understand exactly why the band decided to release it as a single.  The track is a great summation of The Naked Tungs’ sound as a whole: Sarah’s vocals are at their strongest here, and the instrumentals feature a strong bass line, interesting plucked guitar features, and inventive drumming.

The EP’s penumtilate track is All Of This, possibly the most grungy track on the EP, which suits its low-fi production perfectly.  Hear It Calls is then rounded off by Its Alright, the longest track on the EP at over six minutes long, which really lets the band stretch their creative muscles and just jam.

You can listen to Hear It Calls on the band’s Bandcamp page, or alternatively stream it on Spotify – just pop The Naked Tungs into your search bar.  If you’re a fan of Band Of Skulls of Wolf Alice, I reckon The Naked Tungs are a band you definitely need to get into.

Review: After Laughter

Paramore are currently a three piece band from Tennessee, having shifted genres and reshuffled line-ups many times since their formation in 2004.  Friday marked the release of their fifth full length studio album, After Laughter.  Their current reincarnation is that of a cutesy pop-rock three piece with 80s vibes, demonstrated by the album’s lead single, Hard Times.  You can see the video here:

Hard Times is the opening track for the record, and it definitely sets the tone for what is to come.  Gone are the days of Paramore’s emo classics like crushcrushcrush, or their more acoustic, stripped back numbers such as Misguided Ghosts.  This track is chock full of fun pop elements, such as gang vocals, fun synths and the wacky “and I gotta get to rock bottom” garnishing each chorus.

Williams’ songwriting has continued to grow over the years, and at some points is in direct contrast to the light-hearted pop sounding instrumentals.  Williams seems content to lay out her feelings of anxiety, frustration and pessimism with more nuance and grace than ever before.  Whilst the instrumentals on After Laughter often sound sweet, the actual lyrical content sometimes leaves a sour aftertaste, and I really appreciate the band’s complexity.  One of the best examples of this is Fake Happy, with its cheerful sounding veneer and “ba-da ba-da ba ba” backing vocals sugar coating feelings of sadness and the pressure to maintain appearances.  Another is the incredible Idle Worship, where Williams purposely distorts the sound of her voice to illustrate her confusion and frustration with being put on a pedestal.

This album has also allowed Williams to change things up with her vocals.  Williams has an incredible vocal talent, and previous albums really stretched to demonstrate that – think back to All I Wanted from Brand New Eyes, for one example.  Nowadays she no longer has to prove her vocal prowess, and to me it sounds like Williams has taken a small step back.  She’s the front woman of Paramore, that’s not up for discussion, but After Laughter seems to focus a little more on their musical experimentation than vocals.  To me this is best demonstrated in tracks such as Rose-Colored Boy and the slower paced Forgiveness.

The sound of After Laughter reminds me a lot of Walk The Moon’s second record, Talking Is Hard, in terms of its vaguely 80s vibe and fun, summery upbeat themes running throughout.  This is absolutely a compliment, as both albums confidently combine pop elements with more mature and complex songwriting.  I’m looking forward to getting hold of a hard copy of After Laughter so I can put it in my car and listen whilst driving down the motorway, windows down: this is the perfect record for those long drives.

Some Paramore fans seemed to express surprise and the band’s new pop sound, but in my mind, After Laughter was the next logical step for the band.  Brand New Eyes took the band further away from their emo origins with a number of more chilled, acoustic tracks, and their self titled fourth record was the album that garnered them the most commercial and critical success.  As the band have grown older and wiser, it’s obvious to me that they would shed their angsty teen attitude to songwriting and cultivate a more mature sound.  The songwriting in After Laughter is miles away from the petty and venomous “once a whore you’re nothing more, I’m sorry that’ll never change” from Misery Business.

Overall, I honestly think After Laughter is a strong competitor for one of the best pop records 2017.  Fans of Paramore’s self titled album will definitely enjoy their latest LP, and although fans of their first two records may feel that the band have lost their way, I for one think that they’ve found it.  Williams, Farro and York seem to be creating the music they really want to make, and if that’s the case, then I am 100 per cent behind it.

 Highlights: Hard Times, Fake Happy, Grudges, Idle Worship

9 incredible tracks you need in your life – April 2017

Hi altrocklifers, and welcome to my first update on a Wednesday, thanks to my new schedule.  Now you’ll have even less time to wait in between updates: lucky you!  It’s nearly the end of the month, so you all know what that means – today I’ll be looking back through April and sharing the best new tracks released this month.

Tonight Alive – World Away

Tonight Alive’s previous record, Limitless, had a more pop-rock feel to their first two albums.  To me it sounds like World Away is a return to the band’s more punk-pop/alternative rock roots, and that’s definitely no bad thing.

Paramore – Hard Times

This track is probably the most pop-inspired track ever put out by Paramore, and the electronic influences and music video have a serious 80s vibe.  This is a very upbeat and summery track, and whilst some Paramore fans are against the new sound, I really like it!  I’m excited to hear the rest of their upcoming record, After Laughter.

Obey The Brave – On Our Own

Sometimes you just really need some new metalcore tracks in your life, and Obey The Brave’s latest offering really scratched that itch.

Royal Blood – Lights Out

For the past year or so, I’ve been wondering when Brighton duo Royal Blood would return with new music for their eager fans.  Thankfully the band returned earlier this month with the first single from their upcoming second album, How Did We Get So Dark?, and it’s a real banger.

Have Mercy – Good Christian Man

I reviewed Have Mercy’s latest record, Make The Best Of It, on Sunday, and this track was one of my highlights from the album.  You can read the full review here.

New Found Glory – Party On Apocalypse 

New Found Glory are one of those bands who have stuck to the same sound for years, and their consistency makes them one of the best pop-punk bands around.

Of Mice & Men – Unbreakable

Unbreakable is the first track released by Of Mice & Men since previous lead vocalist Austin Carlile had to leave the band due to ongoing health issues.  When it was announced that the band would be continuing as a four piece, fans were concerned as to whether vocalist and bass player Aaron Pauley would step up and sing both clean and harsh vocals on their new tracks.  This track answers that question with a definite yes: Pauley is more than capable of filling Carlile’s shoes, and I can’t wait to hear more from the group.

Papa Roach – American Dreams

This latest track from Papa Roach sounds like the band are harking back to their earlier days, especially throughout the verses.  I can always appreciate a band who takes elements of their old sound and bring them up to date, so I can’t wait to hear their upcoming record, Crooked Teeth.

Blondie – Long Time

My Mum is a massive fan of Blondie, so I’ve been listening to the classic voice of Debbie Harry since I was a kid.  Long Time proves that the band have still got what it takes to put out great sounding tracks.


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

Review: Make The Best Of It

Afternoon altrocklifers!  Today I’ll be reviewing the latest album by Maryland band Have Mercy.  Formed in 2011, the band now only has one official member – vocalist and guitarist Brian Swindle – following the departure of its other members last year.  I’m excited to hear how their third full length album, Make The Best Of It, will sound in comparison to their earlier records, put together when the band was still a five-piece.  It was the video for Have Mercy’s 2013 track, Let’s Talk About Your Hair, that got me interested in this band, so I was excited to hear Coexist, the first single released from the album released on Friday.  You can see the music video for the track here:

I can absolutely understand why Coexist was chosen to be the lead single for the album: it manages to wrap up the Have Mercy sound into one concise, three minute track.  Muted verses are contrasted by a rough-around the edges, almost shouted chorus, and the combination of rumbling drums and simple yet effective riffs gives the song a real stadium filling vibe.

On to the record: Make The Best Of It begins with Smoke And Lace, a high tempo track full of undulating bass, crashing drums, and a catchy chorus.  It’s full of energy, and to me the perfect album opening track.  This album is anything but predictable, shifting from almost pop-punk offerings such as Begging For Bones, to the melodic and gentle guitars of Ghost.

Something I’ve always enjoyed about Have Mercy is vocalist Swindle’s vocal technique: in their earlier releases his voice sounded much more gravelly and rough around the edges, and there was definitely more uncontrolled emotion and aggression.  Now, however, his vocals are much more focused and precise, and it’s obvious that he’s developed his technique over the years.  There’s still plenty of emotion, but these emotions are put across in a more refined way.

An example of this is the dark and angry Reaper, where Swindle fantasises about the death of his ex’s new boyfriend.  The pre-chorus riffs fading to simple feedback when Swindle first sings “I cut the brakes on his Camaro” gives the track a creepy atmosphere, emphasising that threat.  Good Christian Man is easily my highlight of the album: it’s an extremely melancholy song both instrumentally and lyrically, and his struggle to reconcile his beliefs as a Christian shows Swindle at his most vulnerable.

Plus, I’m not sure how they do it, but Have Mercy has a way of creating incredible atmosphere with their tracks.  Whether it’s the layered guitars or cymbal heavy drums which create almost a white-noise effect, the Have Mercy listening experience stands out from other similar bands.  Signed to Hopeless Records, the so-called emo revival, and recent influx of new alternative/indie/rock bands that this band is part of, can seem crowded.  However, I think Have Mercy  stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Considering the band’s radical upheaval last year, the title of Make The Best Of It could very well be an indicator of how Swindle felt about the album: these circumstances are less than ideal, but let’s try to work with what I’ve got.  The results?  An album which exemplifies growth as a musician, and achieving above and beyond personal expectations.  If you weren’t sold on Have Mercy as a band before, now is the time to listen up and pay attention.

Highlights: Coexist, Begging For Bones, Reaper, Good Christian Man

Review: Same Sun Same Moon

Little Hurricane are a rock and blues duo from San Diego, California, formed back in 2010.  Over the years the band have released three records, including an album of cover songs, and Friday marked the release of their fourth album, Same Sun Same Moon.  The first single from the album, OTL, was released last month, and you can watch the video here:

Now, on to the album.  Same Sun Same Moon begins with the title track, which is a bassy, upbeat start to the record with cutesy, optimistic lyrics.  This leads into Bad Business, a more bluesy number with a grungy, guitar led chorus.

This record is anything but predictable.  Tracks shift between high tempo, riff heavy sounds and more indie, acoustic vibes, keeping the listener guessing as to where the record will take you next.  There are also occasional touches of brass, ukulele and piano which demonstrate that Little Hurricane are willing to experiment a little with their music, and don’t let themselves be restricted by the ‘blues’ label.

I’m a big fan of frontman Anthony Catalano’s vocals throughout this record.  His voice can be clear and crisp, or rough around the edges, depending on the tone of the track, and I really like that versatility.  Plus, the occasional female vocals from drummer Celeste Spina add a pleasant, soft contrast to Catalano’s deeper voice.  Plus, it helps to illustrate the evolution of their relationship –  since forming the band, the two have fallen in love and married, as discussed in OTL.

I also like the combination of drummer Spina’s indie/bluesy playing with programmed electronic beats.  This combination helps to add a more pop-sounding vibe to some tracks, like the bridge and chorus of Isn’t It Great, as well as a more grungy sound to tracks like March Of The Living.

This was my first listen to Little Hurricane, and I’m a little sad that I’ve been missing out on their music all these years.  It almost defies belief that such a well-rounded, mature sound can come from just a two-piece.  If you’re a fan of groups like Band Of Skulls or Foals, you definitely need to get this indie/blues duo on your playlist, stat.  Same Sun Same Moon is a great all-round record, with compelling lyrics and an upbeat, hopeful sound.

Highlights: Bad Business, Take It Slow, Mt. Senorita, Slingshot

7 incredible tracks you need in your life – March 2017

It’s that time of the month again! Today I’ll be going over the best tracks released throughout the past 30 days.

London Grammar – Truth Is A Beautiful Thing

I think most people with ears would agree that London Grammar are a band with a beautiful, atmospheric sound.  I absolutely cannot wait to hear more from this group.

PWR BTTM – Answer My Text

Ah, a track about navigating the modern age of dating and the woes of waiting for someone you fancy to text you back.  Why is this track so relatable?  This is a single from PWR BTTM’s upcoming second record, Pageant, due for release in May.

All Time Low – Last Young Renegade

This is the second single to be released from All Time Low’s upcoming record of the same name, and to me this song is stronger than its predecessor, Dirty Laundry.  I’m looking forward to hearing more from the album.

Palisades – Let Down

Palisades is one of the younger bands currently signed to Rise Records, and their electronic/hardcore sound means I reckon they’ll continue to find greater success.  Let Down is the latest single from their self titled record, released last year.

Have Mercy – Coexist

Have Mercy are one of those bands that I’ve followed on and off for the past few years.  The build up to their upcoming album, Make The Best Of It, is making me realise this is a band to pay closer attention to and take more seriously.

Black Stone Cherry – Cheaper To Drink Alone

This track is a pretty fun party song, and I can easily imagine it playing in the background of a rock bar, or at a house party.  However, the guest appearance by Lzzy Hale from Halestorm in the video was enough to sell this track to me.

Incubus – Glitterbomb

You can’t beat a bit of Incubus, and this latest track just proves that the band are still alive and kicking.


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

Review: Mallory Knox, Cambridge Corn Exchange

Last night, I was lucky enough to see Mallory Knox perform live for the second time.  Last time I caught the band live was at Leeds Festival in 2014, not long before the release of their second album, Asymmetry.  This time, the band are touring to promote their third record, Wired.  

First off, however, I’ll talk about the support acts.  Scottish act Fatherson were first to take to the stage, and this was my second time seeing them perform live – the first time was when they supported Enter Shikari on The Mindsweep tour.  In all honesty, I thought their performance took a little while to kick off, so maybe the first 20 minutes of their set was a bit lacklustre.  Their last couple of songs, thankfully, picked up the band’s energy levels and managed to get the crowd jumping.   Here’s the video for Lost Little Boys, one of the tracks the band played last night.

Next up were fellow Cambridge band Lonely The Brave. Unfortunately their performance was marred by a few technical issues: lead vocalist David Jakes had a number of issues with his microphone and in-ear headphones, so there were a few awkward pauses between songs whilst the problems were sorted out.  Otherwise, the band’s performance was spot on, just as good as when I saw them supporting Deaf Havana in 2014. Check out Black Mire, one of my favourite Lonely The Brave tracks:

Finally, Mallory Knox took to the stage.  Their performance was very strong throughout the night, with the entire band working together like a well oiled machine. Lead vocalist Mikey Chapman had some trouble with his voice, declaring about halfway through the set that his voice was “fucked up”, but he managed to power through and perform the rest of the set.  Plus, backing vocals from bassist Sam Douglas helped to fill any gaps.

The band’s set list was very strong, with a great mixture of tracks from all three of their albums.  They probably got the strongest reaction from the crowd whilst playing Lighthouse, Beggars and Wake Up from their debut record Signals, but it seemed like the crowd were equally happy hearing songs from Asymmetry.  The tracks from Mallory Knox’s latest album went down very well, and even though Wired was only released a couple of weeks ago, a decent portion of the crowd were singing along to the tracks.  Here’s the video for last night’s opening track, Giving It Up:


So there you have it.  Mallory Knox put on an awesome show, and if you have the opportunity to see them live, you’d be silly if you didn’t take it.

Have you already seen Mallory Knox live on their Wired tour?  What did you think of their performance?  Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.