Friday, 30 April 2010

ALBUM REVIEW: Oli Brown, Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Oli Brown’s critically acclaimed debut, Open Road, was hailed by some as one of the best from a British Blues guitarist for some time. This undoubtedly would have put a lot more pressure on him to repeat his successes with his second.

However, the eagerly awaited follow up, ‘Heads I win, Tails You Lose’ does not disappoint at all. The album features that unique Oli Brown sound; clean guitar, great riffs and a more confident, mature and sophisticated vocal.

The production is by the legendary Mike Vernon and it is a symbol of the regard that Brown is held in that one of the great British Blues producers came out of retirement to work with the talented youngster, after hearing his debut album.

The album highlights the quality of Brown’s songwriting in Evil Soul, with its wired sound and fine guitar work and the more subtle and emotive, Speechless, shows how his vocal style has developed. He returns to his trademark funk on Keeping My Options Open and a low down, dirty groove and soulful chorus on Real Good Time.

Brown refuses to shy away from covering classic numbers like Fever, which sounds nothing like the old Brenda Lee classic and his funky adaptation of No Diggity. He slows it down on Love’s Gone Cold, one he wrote himself, and shows again how much he has grown as an artist as he lays down a spare and soulful Blues.

The excited chants on the closing track, On Top of the World, see Oli bringing his unique rapping style to fore. It’s a fantastic way to end a fantastic album. Oli Brown is a real talent and his popularity as a live artist continues to grow, and this album just proves that there’s no stopping him.


1. Evil Soul
2. Makes Me Wonder
3. Keeping My Options Open
4. Speechless
5. Fever
6. Not a Word I Say
7. I Can Make Your Day
8. Real Good Time
9. Take a Look Back
10. No Diggity
11. Love's Gone Cold
12. On Top Of the World

Acoustic Village Line-up Revealed for Wickerman Festival

International acoustic act, Emmet Scanlan and What the Good Thought, and Rachel Sermanni are set to headline the Acoustic Village at 2010 Wickerman Festival.

The Galway based 5-piece are a colourful fusion of Scots, Irish, Swedes and Italians. The unusual mix of instrumentation and nationalists is reflected in their music which is described as 'Veering away from the norm but embraced by the majority.'

Also topping the bill is Highlands based, Rachel Sermanni, the young songstress will entertain the acoustic faithful with her unique take on lyrical folk music. Audiences can expect fiddles, piano and according to her website ghostly noises and shoobaps.

While talented trio, The String Contingent, hail from Sydney and Aberdeen, will present the Wickerman audience with a highly individual blend of baroque chamber music, Scottish fiddle and bluegrass.

Other confirmed acts joining them in the Acoustic Village at the ninth Wickerman festival include alternative country soloist Jill Jackson (ex Speedway) and perennial festival favourite Andi Neate.

This year sees the Acoustic Village swap places with the Bass Camp Dance Village; this puts the acoustic acts within a stone's throw of the festivals quiet camping field.

The Wickerman Festival takes place on the 23rd & 24th July at East Kirkcarswell Farm, near Kirkcudbright on the Solway Coast.

Other acts confirmed for the Scottish festival so far include Ocean Colour Scene, The Saw Doctors, The Futureheads, Codeine Velvet Club, The Grass Mountain Hobos, The Undertones, Sons & Daughters, The Sex Pistols Experience and many more.

Further headline acts for the main stage, dance arena and scooter tent are expected to be announced soon.

For details of the full acoustic village line-up and other information, Click here.

ALBUM REVIEW: Kate Nash, My Best Friend is You

There’s been talk surrounding follow up to, Made of Bricks, suggesting a change to Nash’s style. However, there’s no radical change to turn fans away, there's definitely a more abrasive edge to My Best Friend Is You which takes some getting used to.

Nash’s sophomore album, produced by former Suede man, Bernard Butler, features a more assured, mature piano pop sound, while maintaining her quirky style.

In Butler, she’s found her dream producer with his trademark sound of big impact, sweeping strings framing her cockney accent. It works beautifully as Nash raises the bar on her melodies, evident on vibrant lead single, Do Wah Doo, and opener, Paris, with its waterfall piano and thrilling strings, its here she’s in her comfort zone.

The softer moments work well on the touching, I Hate Seagulls, the pretty, You Were So Far Away, and, Pickpocket, a fragile ballad with just piano for accompaniment.

Although not afraid to step out of that zone, the most divisive track is likely to be, Mansion Song, with a 90-second foul-mouthed rant about groupies, sex and cocaine, before exploding into a drum-heavy jam and unleashing a gut-busting scream.

My Best Friend Is You proves Nash is remarkably adept, and not afraid to dip her toe in other areas, testing punk and grunge. Moving away from the freshness of her debut, this album finds Nash on the road to merging her punk side with her pop.


1. Paris
2. Kiss That Grrrl
3. Don't You Want To Share The Guilt?
4. I Just Love You More
5. Do-Wah-Doo
6. Take Me to a Higher Plane
7. I've Got a Secret
8. Mansion Song
9. Early Christmas Present
10. Later On
11. Pickpocket
12. You Were So Far Away
13. Seagulls

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Open Mic UK 2010 - Registration Open

Over eight thousand acts from across the UK auditioned last year and this year the competition is set to be even bigger. Open Mic UK is the definitive national music competition for singers and solo artists in the UK.

Each year the competition travels the length and breadth of the UK in the search for the UK's best singers, singer-songwriters, rappers and vocalists. The competition is open to all genres, whether you’re into R’n’B, Rap, Acoustic, Pop or Classical.

Acts can perform either covers or original material, those who pass the audition stage will go on to perform in live shows across the UK, in front of live audiences and judging panel, for the chance to sing in the Grand Final at the O2 in London.

The panel is made up of industry insiders, A&R, vocal coaches and guest celebrities. Open Mic UK gives you plenty of opportunities including the chance to perform live in front of some of the country's top producers, Label execs, promoters and DJs.

There’s over £50,000 worth of prizes up for grabs and the winner will be offered a recording contract and up to £30,000 investment. Competing acts will also have the chance to perform live in some of the best music venues in the country.

Auditions start in August 2010 and places are limited. If you think you’ve got what it takes then register for Open Mic UK 2010.

For details on how to register for this year’s competition or further information, please go to,

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Warning to Festival Fans over Fake Ticket Sites

Festival Republic has re-issued its plea to people looking for tickets for this year’s Reading and Leeds Festivals to only use websites, outlets and partners as authorised on their websites,

It has been widely reported that there are many fake sites for all this summer’s festivals. Just last week Festival Republic had two bogus fan pages closed down after they claimed to offer free Reading Festival tickets. This particular scam involves people registering for free tickets and is essentially a third party phishing personal information such as email addresses.

All official ticket agents, partners and web pages are listed on the Reading and Leeds websites under the ‘Ticket’ section. Festival Republic have also listed unauthorised websites and agents that they are currently aware of on their websites, but more are being set up and closed down all the time so the promoters are urging fans to remain alert.

In a statement, Festival Republic says, "Please do not register with any third party claiming to represent Reading and Leeds Festival, if you are unsure please call the information line 0207 009 3001."

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Lily and Dizzee Lead Nominations for 55th Ivor Novello Awards

Lily Allen and Dizzee Rascal lead the nominations for this year’s Ivor Novello Awards with two mentions apiece, it was announced earlier today.

Allen’s number one hit, The Fear, was named in two categories; Best Song Musically and Lyrically and PRS for Music Most-Performed Work Award. There was a surprise nomination in the Best Song category, for The Leisure Society's Nick Hemming.

Former warehouse worker, Hemming, received an unexpected nomination last year when he was a virtual unknown. This year, his song Save It For Someone Who Cares, is nominated in the same category, again.

While rapper Dizzee Rascal is nominated for Best Contemporary Song for his Armand Van Helden collaboration Bonkers, as well as the album award for Tongue N’ Cheek.

Established in 1955 in honour of composer and songwriter Ivor Novello, the Awards seek to recognise the best British artists in both fields. 2010 sees the introduction of a new category, Best Original Video Game Score.

Committee member Mark Fishlock said of the category:

"The Ivors has always sought to reflect the ever-changing world of songwriting and composing. The video games market has matured beyond recognition and big budget orchestral scores are regularly being commissioned. Writing music for games also requires a number of specialist skills compared with conventional film scoring, such as non-linear and multi-layered composition."

The 55th Ivor Novello Awards take place at London's Grosvenor House on May 20.

To see the full list of Nominees, click here.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

UK Record Store Day 2010

Record Store Day 2010 takes place this Saturday (April 17) and organisers have said the event will feature the largest number of exclusive releases for the day yet.

Started in 2008 after learning about the US event, that encourages music fans to support their local independent record store. Organisers of the UK leg have said that 'Everyone from The Stones to Foals' is taking part.’

A recently unearthed Rolling Stones track is to be released as a limited edition 7" single, just 1,000 copies have been pressed for Record Store Day. The Beatles, Pet Shop Boys and Goldfrapp are also releasing limited edition recordings for the event.

Britpop stars Blur are releasing exclusive new material, Fool's Day, is the first song recorded by the band since guitarist Graham Coxon quit in 2002. Again, only 1,000 copies will be available in participating stores, making it an instant collector's item.

As well as selling rare material, there will also be a number of instore gigs taking place in record shops across the UK, to mark the event.

Click here, for a full list of exclusive Record Store Day releases available this Saturday in shops across the UK.

Friday, 16 April 2010

UK Band Pull Out of Coachella Appearance, Due to Flight Delays

The Cribs have been forced to pull out of their appearance at Coachella festival because they can't get a flight out of the UK in time for the Californian event.

The Wakefield band due to play the festival today (April 16) have been caught up in the nationwide flight delays following the volcanic eruption in Iceland, April 14.

All UK airports plus several European countries suspended flights today as a safety precaution while an 11km high plume of volcanic ash drifts south across Europe.

Yesterday the band, which include ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, began a 16-hour driving trip to Amsterdam in an effort to catch another flight, but they have now conceded that they will not be able to make it in time to appear at the event.

Frightened Rabbit and Delphic's appearances at this weekend’s festival are also in doubt, while other UK acts are confirmed as already being in the US for Coachella.

British acts including Florence and The Machine, La Roux, Muse, Gorillaz, The Specials and Little Boots are already in the US and haven't been affected.

Hadouken! have already cancelled their appearance at the festival due to visa issues.

Coachella is traditionally the event which kicks-off the annual festival season.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Glastonbury 2010: Final Line-Up Revealed

Organizers of the Glastonbury Festival have revealed their final line-up for the 2010 event, set to run from June 23 through 27 at Worthy Farm, Somerset.

Previously announced headliners U2, Muse, and Stevie Wonder will now be joined by acts like Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, Pet Shop Boys, Orbital and Vampire Weekend.

Faithless, Scissor Sisters, Florence and the Machine, The Flaming Lips and Paloma Faith will also perform at the festival, which celebrates its 40th birthday this year.

Additional acts set to perform include Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, Fatboy Slim, Reef, Hot Chip, MGMT, Dizzee Rascal, Lightening Seeds, Kate Nash and Slash.

Traditionally, the final bill is not announced until the event begins. But this year's announcement comes days after the final batch of tickets for the 2010 festival - including those left from cancelled orders - have completely sold out.

More than 350 acts have been booked to perform over the weekend, ranging from dance DJs to eclectic world musicians.

For the full line-up of performers at this year’s Glastonbury go to the festival website, at:

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Celebration of Fife Talent Tops Friday Night at Big Tent Festival

The 2010 Big Tent festival opens its doors on Friday 23rd July, kicking off at 6pm with a brilliant evening programme of entertainment for the whole family to enjoy.

To celebrate Fife’s Year of Culture, the featured musical acts have very strong Fife connections, the legend Kenny Anderson aka King Creosote will headline.

Kenny has released over forty albums and is the founder of Fence Records, Fife’s best-known record label and hugely successful musical collective. He recently won the Ticketmaster singer-songwriter of the year award at The Tartan Clefs.

Second Hand Marching Band has 16–22 members, formed in 2007. They play folk music influenced by dance, pop and post-rock. They also play a host of instruments.

Also on the bill is Das Contras, a six-piece pop, soul, folk and Latin band and winners of the 2006 PRS New Music Award. The Fife grown, Glasgow based band began as a duo and has grown into a six piece ensemble. To be announced at a later date are some local up and coming acoustic acts.

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer at EventScotland, the national events agency, said: 'Big Tent is an outstanding example to Scotland’s events industry and an unrivalled platform on which to showcase local Scottish talent.

As part of Fife Year of Culture, this event will play a key role in 2010 to highlight the region’s cultural strengths and ambitions. We look forward to what is sure to be yet another fantastic festival.'

For further information and ticket information please visit

Friday, 9 April 2010

Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival 2010 Line-up Revealed

Headliners for the 7th Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival have been confirmed as Feeder and Amy MacDonald. Tickets for the event went on sale today (April 9).

Welsh alternative rockers, Feeder will top the bill on the Friday night. The Brit Award-nominees have three platinum selling albums to their credit.

Amy McDonald, will headline the Saturday night. The 22 year old from Bishopbriggs last played at the Belladrum festival back in 2007.

The event takes place August 6-7 at the Belladrum Estate near Beauly in Inverness-shire in the picturesque Scottish Highlands.

This year’s event has an eclectic line up on offer, which includes The Divine Comedy, Candi Staton, the Levellers, Wolfstone, The Vatersay Boys, Erland and the Carnival, Stornoway and Egyptian Hip Hop.

Young Fathers, and The Woodentops will also be performing as well as two of Edinburgh’s finest, Alex Gardner and Unicorn Kid.

Also on the bill is Bob Marley’s legendary Wailers who will bring the unforgettable songs, sounds and rhythms of one of the last great Reggae institutions still in existence to the main stage in their first ever visit to the Scottish Highlands.

The independent festival has built a reputation for its eclectic line-ups, its off-beat non-musical entertainments and its all-ages approach.

Last year the festival won a VisitScotland Thistle Award and is a past winner of the Grassroots Festival Award at the UK Festival Awards, the festival industry’s ‘Oscars’.

For more information, go to:

Digital Economy Bill Passed Through House of Lords

The UK government passed the controversial Digital Economy Bill, following its third reading in the House of Commons. The bill was approved by MPs by a majority of 142 votes and it passed through the Lords last night, Thursday.

The bill –aimed at supporting artists' copyright and tackling illegal file-sharing – was passed very quickly as part of the "wash-up period", the time left before parliament is dissolved for the general election campaign to officially begin on April 12.

However, the speed at which the bill was rushed into law has angered the likes of internet service provider’s, MPs and internet freedom campaigners. Its sparked online campaigns, protest groups and petitions.

More than 20,000 people have written to their MPs, complaining that it is being rushed through. Opponents claim the bill is too vague and needs more debate.

Under the terms of the Digital Economy Bill:

 Users who illegally download music and videos will have their internet connection cut-off following warning letters from their ISP. There is also an appeals process.
 Force internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to websites that host content illegally. The company that owns the copyright would have to go to court to get this.
 Copyright holders will be able to apply for a court order to gain access to users' name and address details to copyright owners who could then sue them for stealing their content.

However the government says the bill has been given plenty of discussion in the Houses of Commons and Lords, which has led to several changes along the way.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Digital Economy Bill Heads for Final Reading in House of Lords

The Digital Economy Bill (DEB) has passed its second reading in the House of Commons, after a minor debate in which only a handful of MPs were present.

In a near-empty House of Commons, the bill was passed to the 'wash-up' phase where legislation is rushed through before parliament is dissolved later this week.

About 35 MPs out of 646 attended Tuesday evening's key Commons debate. The DEB will go to a House of Lords debate this afternoon, before becoming law.

The controversial measures could see the internet connections of those suspected of unlawful file-sharing, suspended or copyright-infringing websites blocked.

Industry insiders said that although some sections may attract lengthy discussion, it was highly likely, but not definite, that the Lords would pass the bill into law.

The lack of MPs who turned up to debate the issue was partly seen as an indication that the bill had become a “done deal”, after the Conservatives last week finally (but reluctantly) threw their weight behind the proposals.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

ALBUM REVIEW: Goldfrapp, Head First

Following their 2008 weird-folk offering, Seventh Tree, their latest offering sees the electro duo heading back to the electronic pop of their three previous releases.

Electro-vixen Alison Goldfrapp must have been a major influence on the new generation of synth popsters such as La Roux, Little Boots and even the Gaga; therefore it’s odd to find Goldfrapp and Gregory following the lead of others.

With one foot in the 80s, Head First sees a return to the world of glossy grown-up pop; it’s fabulously upbeat electro, a skilfully-crafted homage to the synth-pop era.

The sleek synth-powered lead track Rocket is exactly in step with retro-electro pop fashion, while the familiar piano hook on Alive has been modernised by Gregory’s sharp production. The album’s title track begins with an Abba-style melodic structure before veering into synthesized euphoria.

Although Head First doesn’t sound as unique as it may have done a couple of years back, it is a welcome return to lush, sophisticated and danceable pop for Goldfrapp.

If the last album put you off it’s time to believe again.


1. Rocket
2. Believer
3. Alive
4. Dreaming
5. Head First
6. Hunt
7. Shiny and Warm
8. I Wanna Life
9. Voicething