My Top 10 albums of 2015!

Against Me1. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Without a doubt the most confrontational and controversial ‘punk’ album in years. Laura Jane Grace defies EVERYTHING to deliver a knockout blow to hish-school jocks, homophobia, the close-minded punk community and anyone who wrote them off, myself included, after the underwhelming White Crosses.

Standout track – Black Me Out 

2. Architects – Lost Forever, Lost Together
Whilst watching what Sam Carter described as ‘their best ever set’ at Reading, my mate Rob (who isn’t exactly known for a love of heavy music) declared that it was one of the Top 10 gigs he’d ever been to. For me, that is endorsement enough. This is the sound of a band with years of experience and potential finally coming into their own and leaving ‘metalcore’ firmly at the door.

Standout track – Gravedigger

3. The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams
After 2008’s somewhat patchy Heaven Is Whenever, this was the epic masterpiece the Brooklyn five-piece knew they had to make. Which is why it took them so long to do it, but it’s a spectacular return to the form for the band who command the most ridiculous fervour from their ‘unified scene’ of hardcore fans.

Standout track – On With The Business

4. Beartooth – Disgusting
I genuinely worry about how obsessed I would be with this album if I was ten years younger. Disgusting is an absolute monster. Stand-out track Beaten In Lips could well the best teen rock anthem since Last Resort. This is the sound of your children revolting indeed.

Standout track – Beaten In Lips

5. Twin Atlantic – Great Divide
Whilst 2011’s Free hinted at the greatness to come, nobody predicted the runaway success of 2014’s The Great Divide. And now they’re only bloody playing Brixton next year. How long until arenas come calling?

Standout track – Brothers And Sisters

6. Manic Street Preachers – Futurology
Plenty of other bands would have used the 20th anniversary of an iconic album to rinse their fans, tread water and trade on past glories. It’s telling that whilst the Manics did announce a tour to play 1994’s The Holy Bible in full, this was within 18 months of the release of two of their career best albums. 2013’s melancholy Rewind The Film, and this, the angular, European-tinged Futurology.

Standout track – Europa Geht Durch Mich

7. Marmozets – The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets
I think it’s fair to stay at the start of 2014 most people had these guys down as being great in the live arena, and not much more. Their debut full-length blew that out of the water as we discovered how much depth there really is to this Yorkshire five-piece. Oh, and there were some amazing live shows aswell.

Standout track – Cry

8. LostAlone – Shapes of Screams
Queen meets musical opera meets Biffy Clyro with the ludicrously talented Steven Battelle at the helm. Now split up, this album is their epitaph.

Standout track – GUILTY

9.The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt
Quite a gear-change for Gaslight, as apparently there’s only so much singing about cars, girls and old movies one band can do. It does take a few listens to get your head around one of your favourite suddenly sounding like Queens Of The Stone Age, but once you do, it’s a triumph. Get Hurt ensured their longevity and showed the world there are plenty of strings to their bow.

Standout track – Get Hurt 

10. Of Mice And Men – Restoring Force
There’s nothing I like more than a band who I’ve written off as being generic and bland make me eat my words with a storming gear change full of deafening riffs, soaring choruses and anthems for the pit whilst leaving their reliance on breakdowns at the door. Remarkable.

Standout track – Public Service Announcement




Jodie Marsh on Kerrang!

jodie

 

Last week I caught up with Jodie Marsh. She might not immediately strike you as Kerrang! – as many K! listeners argued amongst themselves – but she’s got a cracking new TLC series called ‘Jodie Marsh on…’ where she tackles plastic surgery, mail order brides, virginity and lying cheating men. (Notably when I had Ross Kemp on the show to promote a similar series nobody batted an eyelid!)

By her own admission she can ‘talk for England’ so I’ve kept the full, unedited interview up here. Have a listen and check out the show – she might just surprise you!




Edinburgh Fringe Review: Hot Dub Time Machine

family-photo

Fun at the Edinburgh Fringe continues well into the night and dancing wise, NOTHING comes close to the Hot Dub Time Machine experience.

I’ve previously blogged about rock clubs being lazy and consequently losing custom in a difficult marketplace – this is by no means limited to the alternative scene, and HDTM makes a mockery of any generic club you’ve ever had the misfortune to visit. Over the course of 4 hours DJ Tom Loud mixes and mashes up tracks and videos from every year since the 1950s right up to the present day, making it extremely difficult for anyone to visit the bar for fear of missing another banger.

It’s the kind of night that sounds like an awful melting pot of styles, but somehow it works, and works spectacularly. The best club nights are undoubtedly always the ones that feel like a gig, where EVERYBODY is facing the stage and there is plenty for you to watch as well as dance to. This experience is normally reserved only for superclubs with big-name DJs, so to get *this* level of experience for just £12.50 is fantastic value for money.

It’s important to note that he is clearly mixing live too,and the fact that Tom looks like he is having the time of his life on stage doesn’t do any harm either. hotdubtimemachine.com for more details!




Edinburgh Fringe Review: David Morgan and Deborah Frances-White

Bpho4MBIQAAT_LC.png-large

Picking a few highlights from Edinburgh Fringe, another comedian we loved was David Morgan.

And if you have the slightest interest in social media, it’s well worth checking out David Morgan: Social Tool at the Underbelly, every day at 5.30pm. David talks us through how to deal with social media faux pas, how to defriend on Facebook, how to create the perfect background for selfies, and respond to what he calls ‘time shifted rejection’.

He is both instantly likable and hilarious in his delivery. One to watch for sure.

993021_10151594028160980_1086142877_n

 

My third ‘daytime’ highlight was the fantastic Deborah Frances-White’s ‘Half a can of worms’ show. I’ve previously enjoyed her ‘How to get almost anyone to want to sleep with you’ at the fringe so was keen to check her new show based around the story of her tracking down her birth parents.

What follows is an intimate 75 minute story of heartbreak, family, love and euphoria delivered with humour, passion and energy by Deborah, raising the all-important question – can you ever leave a half-open can of worms?!

She’s on at the Pleasance at 3.45pm daily.




Edinburgh Fringe Festival Review – Andrew O Neill’s History of Heavy Metal

IMG_6657.JPG copy
I’m just back from a weekend at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Kerrang! wise, one of the most interesting shows was Andrew O’Neill’s ‘History of Heavy Metal’ show.

It’s unbelievable fun if you’re a metalhead, but if you have only a passing interest in rock music it is still fascinating to see Andrew tell the story, right from the 19th century – apparently! – to the present day. He concludes that now, 2014, is the best time ever to be a metalhead, because you have all the old bands that have come before still releasing music and playing live, AND everything that’s come since. A nice response for the next time someone claims ‘rock music is not what it used to be’ or words to that effect.

I caught up with him whilst in Edinburgh, and you can hear the full interview on my Kerrang! Radio show on Saturday from 10am.

If you’re off to the Fringe, it’s on at the Pleasance Dome until August 24th. If you’re not, you can check out his show in London (with a full band!) at Highbury Garage on Thursday 25th September.




Deaf or Havana

photo (1)

Today I was joined on the show by James and Max from Deaf Havana

Following on from the success of playing ‘HYPE or THEORY?’ with The Hype Theory 2 weeks ago, there was only one logical thing to do.

On next week¹s show I’ll be joined by Herman and Sam from Dragonforce!

I won¹t be at Glastonbury this year ­ LONG STORY ­ but I will be hitting Calling Festival to see Aerosmith. I haven¹t seen them live in nearly 5 years – I wasn’t at Download either – another LONG STORY – so I’m buzzing with excitement. There¹s a full day of supporting bands in the old school vein ­- Duff McKagan’s Walking Papers, Thunder, Richie Sambora from Bon Jovi and Heaven¹s Basement to name a few.

calling_announcement

Between now and then I’ll be mostly listening to the new Rise Against single I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore ahead of the release of their seventh studio album The Black Market on July 14th, because nobody does melody driven, politically minded punk rock quite like this Chicago four-piece.




Hardmen and Hype!

Interviews with Hulk Hogan, Ross Kemp, Pixies and David Lovering

Diptic

I’ve had some awesome guests passing through the show of late.

Perhaps most importantly, I had the fairly ridiculous and excitable pleasure this week of interviewing WWE superstar Hulk Hogan who was in the UK promoting his appearance hosting ‘Smackdown’ live at the 02 Arena.

I asked him about his return to WWE, and how he keeps his cool in the ring.

Recently I also caught up with acclaimed actor, broadcaster and ‘TV hardman’ Ross Kemp to chat about his new book ‘The A-Z of Hell’ I am a big fan of Ross dating backto his EastEnders days so hereally was a pleasure to interview.

and also friends of the show The Hype Theory, who I played ‘Hype or Theory’ with. Is it a hyped band, or a well-known theory? It’s harder than you might think.

I also caught up on the phone with Pixies’ drummer David Lovering to chat about their most recent album Indie Cindy. They will of course be over here this weekend for Field Day Festival.


This weekend I headed down to Camden Rocks festival and checked out the aforementioned Hype Theory  – who today release an EP ‘The Hunted’ featuring acoustic versions of standout tracks from last year’s Captives debut. Other highlights included Apologies, I Have None, Turbowolf, The Blackout, the ridiculously young Drones and Hacktivist who DESTROYED The Underworld with their unique rap/metal/djent/ crossover.

This week I’ll be mostly saving myself for Last Resort’s 3rd birthday party at The Star of Kings, but I’ll find time to check out the new Twin Atlantic (currently #1 on the Kerrang! Rock Chart!) album which is being premiered on Wednesday at a top secret location. If their recent London date at The Dome in Tufnell Park is anything to go by, it looks set to put them firmly in rock’s premier league.




Interviewing Two Legends – Dave Navarro and Courtney Love

CourtneyDanWeb
Recently I was lucky enough to catch up with the living legend that is Dave Navarro, former Red Hot Chilli Pepper, and most importantly, guitarist for Jane’s Addiction.

The latter are over here in August, and will be performing their debut studio album ‘Nothing’s Shocking’ in full. I asked Dave what the album meant to him 20 years on. In particular I was keen to ask how he felt about the title, as in 2014 rock music has definitely lost something of its ‘shock’ value.

Last week I also caught up with Courtney Love. I only had literally 5 minutes with her, but this was more than enough time for her to tell me all about how she ‘forgot’ about her feud with Lily Allen, nearly falling out with the ‘Boss’ and how she wants more straight guys at her gigs!

Gig-wise, having returned from Live At Leeds I immediately got excited about the forthcoming Camden Rocks festival – a similar setup (1 wristband gets you free entry to around 20 venues, all day) but with a much more Kerrang! friendly line-up! At the very least it will give me the opportunity to see Hacktivist live, who I missed about 5 times last year.

Tonight I’ll be catching Twin Atlantic down the road at, ahem, Dome in Tufnell Park as part of a super-intimate tour looking ahead to their new album ‘The Great Divide’ in August. Their new single ‘Heart and Soul’ is the current #1 on the Kerrang! Rock Chart, and it’s definitely a step up from the band lazily tipped to be ‘the next Biffy Clyro’.




Live at Leeds 2014 preview

Live at Lee

I haven’t been up to Leeds in a little while, so I’m looking forward to heading up this weekend for the annual ‘Live At Leeds’ festival. The clue is in the title really, it’s a live music festival, it’s in Leeds. A £25 wristband gets you in to 25 venues in the city which, between them, have just about every genre of music covered – from death metal to commercial pop.

With this in mind, even moreso than traditional ‘camping’ festivals it’s practically impossible to make any sort of plan but I’ll definitely be catching ‘the world’s best bar band’ The Hold Steady close proceedings at 10.30pm on Saturday, and praying Frank Turner’s recently announced ‘secret’ set (time and venue TBC) won’t clash. Hopefully it won’t – Frank himself is a huge Hold Steady fan and even has a tattoo of the band – no doubt I’ll see him down the front!

Time permitting I’m also hoping to catch Chloe Howl and Ella Eyre, Los Campesinos, Royal Blood, Sam Airey, The Fat White Family and Women’s Hour – purely because that’s arguably the best band name I’ve ever heard. Tickets are £25 and you can find out more information here – www.liveatleeds.com

Upon returning, no doubt I’ll largely be harping on about the new album Earthwalker from Australian hardcore/metal five-piece In Hearts Wake – I’m currently sworn to secrecy until Monday!

Until next time!




Meeting Fred Durst

1795595_10101344243024979_1327735108_n

Last Friday I caught up with Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit, ahead of the final UK date of the 2014 Kerrang! tour. We talked about building the perfect Bizkit setlist, the two new albums they have in the pipeline (Stampede of the Disco Elephants and The Unbeliveable Truth Part 2) and breakdancing on stage!

Talking of Limp Bizkit, I’m looking forward to heading to Last Resort next weekend – a club night that certainly likes its nu-metal. If you missed my blog from last summer you can check it out here.

Elsewhere, I’ll be heading to the Garage this weekend to catch Manchester’s finest Sonic Boom Six – who I haven’t seen do a headline show in literally years. They totally destroyed the crowd at Warped Tour last November – with Laila performing the last track on top of a security guard’s head! If you like your music heavy with lots of rapping, screaming and breakdowns, make sure you get there early and catch The One Hundred opening things up.

I’ll also be checking out the new Lamb Of God documentary, As The Palaces Bun, which is out in cinemas today.