Music

23 March 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Is Today’s Generation of Music Lovers Missing out on True Audio?

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According to recent figures, today’s generation of young music fans are moving away from downloads in favour of streaming; figures compiled by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) shows music streaming services grew by 65% in 2014, while revenue from music downloads in the UK declined by 15%. It’s clear that the internet has had a noticeable impact on our lifestyle and, in particular, how we listen to music. As music records have evolved over the years, from vinyl, to CD, to MP3, what impact has this had on audio quality? And, perhaps more pertinent, does it really matter?

Vinyl – outdated or retro?

For the 90s child, it seems vinyl and high end audio technology has largely become associated with DJs and audiophiles, but even the best DJs’ music is ultimately compressed into MP3 files for quick and easy consumer download.

According to the stats from the Official Chart Company, it seems there’s still a hunger for real high quality audio, with sales of vinyl records hitting an 18 year high last year. More than one million vinyl records were sold in the UK by November in 2014 – the first time the milestone has been achieved since 1996.

While vinyl is experiencing resurgence, it’s still the super-compressed MP3 files that continue to dominate. Vinyl may still be regarded as the Holy Grail of audio, but it comes with its own disadvantages, mainly its bulk, fragility and inconvenience, which are the very reasons MP3 became so popular.

The case for digital

With instant access to our favourite artists, and more music than ever before available just a click away, is there any wonder that internet streaming services are the first port of call? The importance of ownership is being displaced in the industry by accessibility, a point which TechRadar’s Duncan Geere explored recently. The trend towards streaming has been growing and shows no sign of stopping, but it also means that today’s generation of music listeners are more accustomed to listening to compressed MP3 files via YouTube, smartphones or even straight from their laptops.

Quality Vs Quantity

Currently, when recordings are compressed into a convenient file format, i.e. for streaming and downloads, some of the clarity and resolution of the recording is lost. Not only is the track compressed in size (and information) to make it fit onto an MP3 file, an audio technique called “amplitude compression” is often used to squeeze more volume out of the recordings. Unfortunately, this often removes the dynamics from the track and causes what’s called “audio clutter”. The songs aren’t actually louder – just dynamically flatter; the loud parts and the quiet parts have the difference between them reduced so the average amplitude is increased, which makes the overall volume of a track appear higher.

How technology is reminding people how music should be heard

Audio engineers across the world are developing an alternative way to deliver music as it was meant to be heard and the way the artist originally intended. High end audio is essentially about the ability to reproduce the fidelity of the original artist’s recording.

There have been a few signs, which have sparked hope that true quality audio may be set to stage a comeback. For example, Meridian Audio’s MQA, which promises to deliver studio quality “high res” audio via everyday speakers and headphones, with a downloadable and fully compatible file. Potentially, this could mean that the everyday music fan would not only have easier access to better quality audio, but that high res quality could become the norm. Instead of the music industry making everything both smaller (for download convenience) and louder (to compete in the mass market) the real differentiator will be quality.

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27 February 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Seven of the Coolest Live Music Venues from Around the World

One of the best things about music is that it’s international; wherever you go in the world, music is a constant that can bridge culture gaps and cross language barriers. What makes a gig special is its atmosphere, acoustics and aesthetics, as well of course, the performers. With venues being such an important aspect of a concert, we’ve shared our top eight live music spots from across the world.

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Red Rocks Amphitheatre, USA

The Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a rock structure 10 miles away from Denver in Colorado, and has been hosting private, public and organisational performances for over 100 years. It has the capacity for 9,540 people and due to its unique beauty it has been a favoured gig spot for many famous musicians such, as Jimi Hendrix and The Grateful Dead.

 

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Slane Castle, Ireland

The sloping lands of this venue within the Boyne Valley in Ireland, forms a natural amphitheatre and has grounds that can hold over 80,000 people. Slane Castle has been hosting rock bands since the 1980s and can be found just an hour outside of Dublin.

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The Caves, Edinburgh

Hidden within the cobbled streets of Edinburgh’s old town lies, The Caves. This venue can be hired out for a number of different events, but is most popular as a small, live music spot. The history of this venue is slightly sinister. For around 30 years the vaults were used to house a number of tradesmen as well as storage for illegal items. Reportedly, some of these ‘illegal items’ were bodies, including the victims of infamous Scottish serial killers Burke and Hare.

 

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The Marvelous Floating Stage of the Bregenz Festival

Okay, so this one isn’t exactly a live music venue, as it’s built specifically for a festival that takes place every year but it definitely deserves a mention. The stage is a masterpiece on Lake Constance in Austria and plays host to many elaborate opera productions. Often the performances are original and innovative takes on classic opera. The surrounding waters are also frequently used as an extension of the stage.

 

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Hollywood Bowl, USA

It’s unsurprising that this is one of the most famous amphitheatres in the world, due to its superb location in the hub of the entertainment industry and its spectacular views of the Hollywood Hills. With the capacity for a whopping 17,376 people, the Hollywood Bowl has attracted a horde of famous performers throughout the years including; The Who, The Beatles and The Doors as well as playing host to the annual, Playboy Jazz Festival.

 

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Sultan’s Pool – Jerusalem

The Sultan’s Pool is an ancient water basin on the west side of Mount Zoin and is one of Jerusalem’s most popular venues for concerts and cultural events. As well as accommodating talented artists including, Bob Dylan, the site also kicks of the Jerusalem film festival with a screening in skylight.

 

 dalhalla

Dalhalla Amphitheatre – Sweden

This summer concert venue is located in a former limestone quarry in the town of Rattvik. It was the Scandinavian equivalent of the Greek Olympus back in the day. With seating for up to 4,000 people, Dalhalla hosts between 20 and 30 events each summer with an array of different musical and theatrical performances. It is surrounded by beautiful scenery and even has its own moat, which separates the audience from the stage.

Although these are the eight that impressed us most, there are plenty more incredible concert venues across the globe. We’d love to hear your suggestions or pictures of you at your favourite music venue.

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12 February 2015 ~ 0 Comments

5 Misunderstood Love Songs You’ll Never Hear in the Same Way Again

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, love and romance are everywhere. What better way to set the mood than with a little love song? Well, if you’re compiling a Valentine’s playlist for your sweetheart this year, make sure you listen out for the lyrics. We’ve had some fun with this one and found five so-called ‘love songs’ with somewhat unromantic meanings.

1. Lola – The Kinks

Any song with a girl’s name in the title is more often than not, synonymous with heart-felt love-lost lyrics, with the singer proclaiming undying love for his girl. Not in this case. The song Lola is actually about how he discovered that the woman he was flirting with was actually a man.

“But I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man

And so is Lola

La-la-la-la Lola la-la-la-la Lola”

2. With or Without You – U2

As an undeniably and famously sentimental track, it’s not hard to mistake it for a love song. However if you take a closer look at the lyrics –there is more sadness than romance. This song is about a break up, and the words are pretty dark.

“My hands are tied

My body bruised, she’s got me with

Nothing left to win

And nothing else to lose.”

 

 

3. Let’s Get Married – Jagged Edge

You’d think it would be safe to assume by its title, ‘Let’s Get Married’ would be a lovely little love song. However, the words unravel to be slightly more morbid and apathetic than you’d expect.  The singer’s proposal sounds more like a gloomy observation about human mortality than a romantic and heartfelt gesture of undying love.

“Meet me in the altar in your white dress

We ain’t getting no younger, we might as well do it”

 

 

4. Careless Whisper – George Michael

This sensuous 80s hit isn’t quite as charming as you’d think. It’s about a man apologising to his lover for cheating – hardly a romantic overture.

“I should have known better than to cheat a friend

And waste a chance that I’ve been given

So i’m never gonna dance again

The way I danced with you”

5. Every Step You Take – The Police                       

Did you know that this classic wedding song was never intended to be romantic? In a BBC Radio 2 interview, Sting claimed that people had misinterpreted the song and it was actually supposed to be quite dark and sinister.  In fact when you listen closely to the lyrics, it definitely sounds more like a stalker’s plea for help than true love.

“Every breath you take and every move you make

Every bond you break, every step you take (I’ll be watching you)”

If you’re looking for some love songs which are more romantic, take a look at our top ten, old and new, on Pure Connect.

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02 February 2015 ~ 0 Comments

New Music Monday: Leopards at Factory Manchester

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Starting off the night are Letters from Grace who have the unfortunate luck of playing to a nearly empty venue. Thankfully front woman, Molly Tipping, doesn’t let this affect her. She’s a spunky young vocalist who interacts well with the slowly growing crowd. However, the band plays a set where songs tend to blend together, with nothing standing out too much. I think they’ll be a much more memorable band, once they’ve found their own feet.

Next up are Cavaliers, who I was lucky enough to catch back in June. They play a solid set filled with catchy beats and their KIGH vibe that lights up the room. It’s a real shame that the sound quality just isn’t what it should be, which leaves the vocals too quiet for a large amount of the set. Scott Williamson is a front man full of charisma and loses himself in the music. Thunder should really have more people dancing along because it’s a hit in the making. Once again, they manage to slip in a bit of Dancing on the Ceiling but this time it seems to go over most of the crowd’s heads.

My Favourite Runner Up takes to the stage next and hit the crowd with infectious pop rock. These guys are yet another band that makes me wonder what they’re slipping into the Welsh water. They play an energetic set but the people just aren’t moving. Once again, dodgy microphones mean we can barely hear the backing vocals, which is a shame but they still put on a great show. They even throw in a cracking cover of Busted’s Year 3000 which has everyone laughing and singing along. Poison is a toe tapping, danceable number that gets you singing along even if you’re only hearing it for the first time. They really are a band you want to see live if you get a chance.

When you’ve been likened to huge bands such as Paramore, you really need to stand out from the crowd and prove you’re worth it. And with front woman, Ana Nowosielska, this isn’t hard for Altered Sky. She knows how to charm the crowd without being too cute, managing to get a sing-along before even uttering a word herself – she has the crowd in the palm of her hand. The rest of the band is equally responsible for the crowd’s enjoyment. With pounding drums and bone rattling bass lines, they pack a punch. Apple Tree, their first ever single, still sounds fresh and new to us. Drummer, Amy Blair, plays with a grin like it’s the greatest place for her. This is a nice change from bored or angry looking drummers.

Leopards another band out to prove that female fronted bands can hold their own in what is still a boy’s club. With a powerhouse of a vocalist and beats that match, they really know how to rock. Everyone, including the merchandise guys, has gathered towards the stage. It’s hard not to liken them to bands like We Are the in Crowd but when they’re playing sets this good. For established fans, Home is one that gets them singing. For first time listeners, it draws us in. They are definitely a band I want to see again when I can.

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16 January 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Our Best Bits from the Brits

Last night the nominees for the 2015 Brit awards were announced, with some more surprising than others. English singer-songwriter Sam Smith is up for an impressive five awards, closely followed by Ed Sheeran who has been nominated for four. The rest of the nominations can be viewed on The Brit Awards 2015 website, and the winners for the ‘Best British Video’ and ‘Best British Breakthrough Act’ categories can be voted for there as well.

Historically, the Brits has been a celebration and commemoration of great British pop music, with a host of famous acts performing throughout the years. This year’s show will see Paloma Faith, George Ezra and Royal blood give memorable performances.

However, the flurry of fabulous outfits, emotional acceptance speeches and fantastic performances aren’t the only memorable moments of the Brits. We’ve listed five of our favourite controversial, entertaining and funniest clips of the ceremony throughout the years.

5. Harry Styles misses collecting his award.

At the Brit Awards in 2014, One Direction went on stage to collect an award for Best British Video and one member was missing. About halfway through the speech, Harry runs up towards the stage and apologises claiming he was late because he had to go to the bathroom!

4. A little known DJ thought he had won a Brit.

This also happened in the 2000 show. During the presenting of the award for ‘Best  British Sound Track’. The winner was Notting Hill; however a DJ named Brandon Block had a little too much to drink and was convinced by a friend that he had won. Let’s just say it was fairly awkward when he climbed up on stage, and nobody had any idea why he was there. He then attempted to start a fight with Ronnie Wood before being escorted off stage by security.

3. Liam Gallagher throwsIn  his Brit into the Crowd.

You can always count on Liam Gallagher to cause a stir . In 2010, Oasis won  Best Brit Album of the Past 30 Years and Liam came to collect the award. After thanking everyone in the band, except for  his brother who was the cause of the band splitting the previous year, he threw his microphone and then his award into the crowd. Host Peter Kay was less than impressed.

2. Russell Brand Hosting the Brits

It’s hardly surprising that Russell Brand caused controversy in the 2007 Brits, they must have known what they were getting themselves into as ITV received over 300 complaints about his bad taste jokes and Ofcom received another 100.

 

1 Adele’s performance of Someone Like You

This is perhaps one of, if not the most memorable performances in Brit history. In 2011, Adele performed her song ‘Someone Like You’ with just a piano accompanying her. This emotional performance caused sales of her single to skyrocket, leading to her securing a British number 1 for the song.

Make sure you watch 2015’s Brit Awards hosted by Ant and Dec and scheduled to air Wednesday 25th February, and let us know via Twitter and Facebook who you want to win.

 

 

 

 

 

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05 January 2015 ~ 0 Comments

We Are The Ocean Review

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Boy Jumps Ship starts things off with a thunderous sounding set. With three voices melding together in harmonious wonder, they really know how to pack a punch. With songs like ‘Black Hearts Don’t Beat’ and ‘Call To Arms’ (off their EP which was released back in June), it’s a wonder as to why they’re opening support on such a small gig. It’s unfortunate for the band that the crowd are mostly hanging at the back, round the bar, and not enjoying the incredible set being played. For those who are paying attention, the band put on a show that could make other bands jealous.

Taking to the stage next, the Bath boys from Decade bring about a mix of pop-punky vocals set to a rock backbeat. With the crowd having almost doubled in size since doors, people are drawn towards the stage by Alex Sear’s easy charm and charisma – but it’s the power of his voice that truly steals the show. Every song they play sounds bigger than the venue, as if unable to contain the sheer energy coming from the band.

Opening with the epically sounding ‘Nothing Good Has Happened Yet’, We Are The Ocean really know how to put on a show and with a string of tours behind them since forming back in ‘07, they have a solid sound and an even more solid fan base. When vocalist, Liam Cromby, admits that his voice is worn out, we could be lead to believe he’s put on a half-hearted performance. Well that’s something that just isn’t true of him. His voice is strong and clear throughout the set, though he does ask for audience participation when he just can’t maintain it. Even if his voice does shake and crack in places, it doesn’t deter from the passion and raw power he possesses. The venue is electric, from the people pressed against the stage to the ones leaning at the bar, there doesn’t seem to be a single person not having an amazing time. New song ‘Sweet Little Lies’ (if I caught the name correctly) gets us all excited for what’s to come on the new album. With ‘Confessions’, Alfie Scully really comes into his own and shows us all just how accomplished a guitarist he is. The acoustic ‘Chin Up Son’ brings the set a much calmer, more intimate feel, with Cromby taking to the stage alone. This gets possibly the biggest sing-along of the night, with the crowd matching him word for word and even drowning him out in places. Seriously, if this is when his voice is less than perfect, I can’t wait to see them again when it’s not because his off day matches most vocalists’ good ones.

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08 December 2014 ~ 0 Comments

New Music Mondays – The Maine

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With the gig downgraded from Academy 2 to Academy 3, the bands could feel a little disheartened but they don’t. Everyone onstage seems to be playing the gig of their life. With energy flowing and music playing, Academy 3 is electric.

Nick Santino’s set is rock’n’roll mixed with a country twang. Never have I seen one man and his guitar win over a crowd so quickly. He plays songs about love, loss and heartbreak – something we can all relate to. His voice sores around the venue, sounding like the perfect combination of broken glass and spun gold. As each song finishes, more and more people are watching in awe – with a few misty eyes spotted too.

For a band that are enjoying their first time playing here, Lydia certainly seem shocked by the amount of fans they have in the crowd. Leighton Antelman is an unlikely frontman but wins everyone over with his awkward charm and amazingly powerful voice. Keyboardist, Matt Keller, is a captivating man to watch. He seems to be playing like a man possessed. With ‘This Is Twice Now’, the crowd are completely hooked and singing along. This is a band that I cannot wait to grace our shores again.

With a crowd rushing towards the stage before you’ve even started, applauding the roadies, and generally becoming more impatient with every passing second, you know you’re onto a winner. The Maine are a band that have certainly grown with every album they’ve put out, and tonight’s show goes to prove it. Playing old songs with a new spin, showing just how much they’ve progressed. They are definitely a band that proves that you can stay true to your roots, without being scared to take chances and try new things. Unfortunately for the band, the venue’s sound quality starts off shaky and just doesn’t match up to their talent, leaving them sounding muddy in places – not that the rabid fans seem to mind, they’re clambering at the stage as if their lives depend on it – thankfully though, this seems to resolve itself after a few songs and it’s all good from there on out. The Maine are a band that really know how to captivate an audience. Everyone in the venue is dancing and singing along – even the parents waiting at the bar can’t resist tapping their feet along to the music. ‘Vanilla’ certainly has the crowd in the palm of their hand – even I can’t stop myself from dancing to it. Having played this venue 7yrs ago with The Academy Is…, the band play an amazing set filled with songs that other bands wish they’d written.

Check out http://shop.81twentythree.com/ and grab a copy of all three artists’ albums.

By Megahn Keene, SSR Music and Creative Industries Student

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20 October 2014 ~ 0 Comments

New Music Mondays – Me Vs Hero

 

Kicking things off are Simmer who run into technical difficulties straight away. This leads to an atmospheric instrumental number to fill time. When things are up and running, the band struggle to gain the crowd’s attention but soon hit their stride, around the third song in, and the reaction to their set is pretty good.

Landmarks_Photograph by Ben Sheridan

Next up are hometown boys, Landmarks (image on right) who show Sound Control exactly what pop-punk should be –loud, passionate and energetic enough to get the crowd bouncing. The vocal work between lead singer, Brad Shea and bassist, Adam Long is a beautiful combination of passion and power. The band manage to play catchy tunes without falling into the easy trap of sounding too much like every other band within the genre, bringing about a Set Your Goals feel to this side of the pond without losing their own identity as a band. With them taking to the studio in November to record their album, I have high hopes for what the finished product sounds like.

If I was giving an award for most energetic front man, Roam’s Alex Costello would win hands down. He’s a tiny powerhouse onstage and has the crowd lapping it up from the very get go. His stage presence reminds me of a younger Bert McCracken (The Used) with the way he blurs the line between band and fans. The band themselves bring out a different, little more aggressive , side of pop-punk with Charlie Pearson’s pounding drum beats shaking you to your very core (in the best possible way). Naivety seems to be a crowd favourite–with fans all clamouring to get closer to the stage. I just hope that when the band, inevitably, gain more exposure they don’t lose this intimacy with their fans.

Having released their long awaited second album ‘I’m Completely Fine ’just over two weeks ago, the Crowd is understandably raring to go when Me Vs Hero storm the stage. Sing-alongs, stage invasions and crowd surfers kicking the lighting rig (health and safety nightmare but the fan’s delight)….and it’s only two songs into their set. These guys show everyone just what the whole pop punk scene is about. A sense of community, of comradery, all wrapped up in a bouncy beat and a whole lot of fun.

Picture Credit: Ben Sheridan

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11 September 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Barclaycard Mercury Prize

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Last night the nominations for the 2014 Barclaycard Mercury Prize were announced. The Mercury Prize is an annual music prize awarded to the best album in the United Kingdom. The shortlist is selected by an independent panel of musicians, music executives and journalists. All genres of music are eligible for the prize as can be seen by this year’s nominations which showcase a variety of different music.

There are seven debut albums shortlisted this year, and five more established acts. The nominated albums include artists such as Bombay Bicycle Club, Nick Mulvey and previous nominee Anna Calvi. If you want to take a listen to those up for the award have a listen to our PureConnect Playlist.

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08 September 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Bestival – The Summer Festival Finale

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This weekend played host to Bestival, one of the UK’s top summer festivals which takes place annually on the Isle of Wright. It’s seen by many as the finale of summer festivals and boasts a huge line-up. This year was no exception with a theme of ‘desert island disco’ which saw thousands of revellers don wacky costumes. With a multitude of live entertainment, dance stages and parades, Bestival really is a wonderful way to end the summer. Here were our favourites from the weekend:

Foals

Saturday night headliners Foals are recognised as being one of the UKs top live acts and they did not disappoint! Playing a steady 75 minute set, they hinted that their Bestival performance will be their last show for a while. Listen to them here.

Outkast

Legends of hip-hop Outkast also headlined at Wireless. They closed the main stage on Friday night, bringing out all their old hits such as ‘Hey Ya’ and ‘Ms Jackson’. The duo is considered one of the most successful hip hop groups of all time, selling in total over 25 million records. Listen for yourself, here.

 

London Grammar 

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The melancholic London Grammar are relatively new in the music world with their debut album If You Wait released in late 2013. They have rocketed to success, their album selling over 356,000 copies and securing many spots in festivals all over the UK, including Glastonbury. They claimed their Bestival performance was the biggest crowd they have played for yet. Listen here.

 

Basement Jaxx

Electronic pair Basement Jaxx drew in the largest crowd with the audience taking up most of the field. They have been around for years, rising to fame in the 1990s and still going strong. They have just released their 7th album, Junto. Check it out here.

 If you’re missed out this year, don’t worry. We’ve have put together a playlist of all this summer’s top festival tunes so you can relive all the best moments of 2014.

What was your favourite festival song of the summer? Tweet us @PURE_insider, and we’ll pop it on our playlist!

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