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

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

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.

7 incredible tracks you need in your life – February 2017

February is the shortest month of the year, but that doesn’t mean there was any shortage of great tracks released over the past few weeks.  Here’s my round-up of the best singles and music videos put out this month!

Knuckle Puck – Indecisive 

Chicago pop-punk band Knuckle Puck are returning with a new EP, Calendar Days / Indecisive, on March 17th, and this is one of the titular tracks.  The melancholy lyrics and acoustic vibes make it a perfect track to listen to with a mug of hot tea or coffee in this February weather.

All Time Low – Dirty Laundry

I’ll be honest and say that the first two thirds(ish) of this track didn’t inspire me very much, but the guitar solo leading into the final chorus turned Dirty Laundry around for me.  I’m looking forward to hearing their upcoming seventh studio album, Last Young Renegade, set to be released on June 2nd.

Cover Your Tracks – Striking Matches

Cover Your Tracks is a band formed from the ashes of a number of failed bands, such as Woe, Is Me, Decoder, and Cursed Sails.  The result is a great hardcore track with a smattering of electronic breaks and a catchy chorus.

Imagine Dragons – Believer

I’ve been a big fan of Imagine Dragons for a long time, and I really enjoyed their second full length record, Smoke + Mirrors, which came out back in 2014.  Believer has me excited for a potential third album on the way.

Taking Back Sunday – Call Come Running

This track is from Taking Back Sunday’s latest record, Tidal Wave, and I featured Death Wolf, another song from that album, back in the September 2016 edition of X incredible tracks.  I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve heard from this album, so Call Come Running definitely deserved a feature today.

While She Sleeps ft. Oli Sykes – Silence Speaks

To me, While She Sleeps has been an inescapable part of the British metalcore/hardcore scene, so to see them collaborating with Oli Sykes, one of the most recognisable front men in the industry, is a pretty big deal.  I’ll be honest and say that I never used to be a big fan of this band, but Silence Speaks has made me reconsider my opinion.  I look forward to hearing While She Sleeps’ upcoming third full length album, You Are We.

Pierce The Veil – Floral And Fading

Pierce The Veil’s Misadventures was released last May, and Floral And Fading is the latest single to be released from the record.  The video, set in an American 1950s bowling alley, is great fun to watch if only because of bassist Jaime Preciado’s afro.


What did you think of this month’s round-up? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

New music spotlight: Everywhere

Everywhere is a five-piece alternative/indie rock band based in London, UK.  They formed back in 2012 after lead singer Max Berga emailed his demos to Los Angeles producer Mark Needham.  He then gathered together bassist Joe Sanders, guitarist Andrei Sora, drummer Dan Graham, and Joe Bates on keys, to form the band.  Producer Mark Needham is probably best known for his work with Imagine Dragons and The Killers, so I’m certain fans of these bands will enjoy the upbeat indie offerings of this new band.

Everywhere’s second EP, Fiction Act, was released last December.  The lead single, Some Other Dude, has amassed over one million streams on Spotify, and its easy to understand why.  The groovy bass line, whoa-oh-ing backing vocals, and relatable lyrics about missing your chance to make a move on someone, gives the track an infectious quality which will see you tapping your foot and nodding your head without even noticing.  The EP’s opening track, Shades At Night, has a fun acoustic vibe with a catchy chorus; you can see the video for that track here:

The EP also features the understated and moody Let It Go, which is probably my favourite of the four songs on Fiction Act. This EP, then, is an excellent effort by Everywhere which demonstrates their ability to handle a variety of moods and feelings effortlessly through their songwriting and instrumentals.  Fiction Act is available to buy via iTunes, or you can check it out on Spotify.

The band are no strangers to playing live gigs: Everywhere headed on tour last summer, playing a number of dates across the UK including The Dublin Castle in London and Bleach in Brighton.  If you like what you’ve heard here, why not catch Everywhere performing a show?  Their next live date sees the band returning to The Dublin Castle on March 18th, and it promises to be a great show.  They’re also in the process of confirming summer festival appearances, so I hope to see them appearing on line-ups soon.

You can keep up to date with the band’s progress by following them on Twitter or liking their Facebook page.  I know I’ll be keeping an eye on Everywhere, as I predict this band have further success to look forward to in the future.


Would you like to see altrocklife feature more upcoming bands in future? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Review: All These Countless Nights

Deaf Havana are an English five piece alternative rock band who have been performing and producing punchy rock tracks since their formation in 2005.  All These Countless Nights was announced last August during the band’s performances at Reading & Leeds Festival, and the excitement for the album has built gradually over the past five months.  The single Trigger was featured as Daniel P Carter’s Rockest Record on his BBC Radio 1 show, and you can hear the track here:

All These Countless Nights is the fourth full length album to be released by Deaf Havana, and I’m very excited to hear how the band has progressed over the past 12 years.  Their sound has shifted over the years, from hardcore guitars and harsh screamed vocals, to a more lighthearted rock vibe with 100% clean vocals and big stadium-filling choruses.

The album opens with Ashes, Ashes: it begins with a deceptive acoustic introduction before singer James Veck-Gilodi’s vocals pick up passionately and the drums and lead guitar kick in.  The “whoa-oh”ing backing vocals help to build layers of atmosphere, as does the delicate piano playing within the verses.  The record then leads into Trigger, easily one of the strongest songs on the record with a chorus full of emotion and drums more complex than you might expect from a song of this genre.

One of my highlights of the record is L.O.V.E, a moody ballad discussing the darker side of love with an electric guitar solo from Matthew Veck-Gilodi and a great instrumental running from about the three and a half minute mark onwards.  It’s the longest song on All These Countless Nights, clocking in at almost five minutes in length, but it doesn’t feel like it’s been dragged out; more that the instrumentals and vocals have been given the breathing room they need to create the biggest impact.

Each track contains features which help them to stand out from the rest, from Fever’s grungy guitars, to the fantastic guitar solo in Pretty Low, to the acoustic-led Seattle.  But what does stand out to me as a whole is the band’s ambitions and desire to succeed, grow and reach more fans than ever before.  Whereas previous records sung about regrets and sadness fuelled by booze, songwriter James takes these feelings and looks forward more optimistically than ever before. If Deaf Havana continue to produce cracking records like this one, they’ll surely reach the success they deserve.

Having listened back to some of Deaf Havana’s older tracks to refresh my memory, I’ve found that vocalist James’s voice has improved and strengthened massively over the last 12 years.  He wasn’t the band’s original front man, but he’s definitely settled into that role now.  His tone is great, and I’d argue that he’s much better at conveying his feelings through the sound of his voice than ever before.  Some older Deaf Havana fans much prefer the band’s earlier music, but to disregard their more recent records is to disregard how much these guys have grown and improved as musicians.  If that also includes changing their sound, then so be it.  I certainly think the band have changed for the better, resulting in All These Countless Nights, their strongest album yet and another contender for one of the best records of 2017.

Highlights: Happiness, Fever, Pretty Low, Seattle, Pensacola, 2013