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Thursday, 10 May 2018

Tranquility Base + Hotel Casino: Is it Only 4 out of 5?

Waiting patiently is not something I would consider to be a talent of mine, however it has been 5 years since the Arctic Monkeys of Sheffield released an album and I had no choice but to wait (although not patiently) for their long awaited 2018 album release of "Tranquillity Base + Hotel Casino".

Never have I experienced such pandemic angst amongst music fans than I have with this album. With the wonderful reception to Turner and Kane's second Shadow Puppets record, along with drummer Helders' escapades with Iggy Pop- it's safe to say there were plenty of places, people and experiences the boys could've drawn from to create their 6th album. 

Amidst all the scepticism, an album leak and clips of them performing some of their new tracks at their American gigs, I've managed to refrain from indulging for the soul purpose of reviewing the album in full, just as I did "Everything You've Come to Expect" in 2016 (without the ranking of songs as I'll explain later)- without further ado, lets get to the nitty gritty.



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1. Star Treatment: When the song first began I felt a distinct familiarity, not within Arctic Monkeys discography, but loosely as though it wouldn't go amiss in a Tame Impala album, which is the sort of sound I was expecting from the teaser. I was shocked at the switch in lyricism from Turner, opting for a more "wordy" approach so to speak left to simmer underneath the microphone affects. Embarrassingly enough I wrote "Love Matt's wailing" which although sounds extremely passive aggressive is meant in earnest. Overall I'd say this song gives me a sort of "high on a trampoline" vibe and seems to encompass my general thoughts on TBHC.

2. One Point Perspective: I had to have a slight giggle at the "Mr Blue Skies" peppy-esque intro but was quickly put back in my place as the sound of the song shifted into the estranged eclectic sister of "Snap Out of It". I couldn't help but envisage some form of parody music video being shot at poolside, with Turner and Co adorning kimono's and obnoxiously large sunglasses. 

3. American Sports: The first thing written in my notes is "should probably google what a 'lola' is" which I just attempted to do but to no avail. At this point in my listening experience I began to feel slightly subdued, as though I had been listening to the same song in different stages of its life. Lyrically, Turner has had a lot of time to reflect on himself, his situation and the world for this album- which clearly was what he was doing on the painfully long hiatus.

4. Tranquillity Base + Hotel Casino: The title track opens with some cracking bass work from O'Malley, however I couldn't help but be slightly thrown off by the "Mark talking" line and Alex Turner singing "side boob" is something that wouldn't have been at all in my list of things to expect from album no. 6. That being said, it's a well put together song, giving off vibes of a robot slowly powering down.

5. Golden Trunks: Now, all I could think throughout this was of how many WWE matches Turner and Kane must've witnessed in order to both come up with wrestling references (Kane's album titled "Coup De Grace" is the name of wrestler Finn Balor's finishing move.) Although the song did seem somewhat Addams Family-esque in sound, there were some crunchy guitar moments definitely worth the mention. 

6. Four Out of Five: The tune with the sexy bass as seen in the teaser trailer for the album, otherwise known as the song I was waiting for this whole album. Easily the most traditional Monkeys song out of all of them, FOOF (what an acronym) sounds like a warped space-age version of "Moonage Daydream" regardless of how much the reference of "gentrified" made me think of GCSE geography. 

7. The Worlds First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip: Seeing this on the track listing before the release of the album had me highly confused (that and The Ultracheese and Batphone) and when the song began I couldn't help but think it was playing the intro to some upbeat rap song. WFEMTFF (fucking hell) quickly identifies itself as a hazy afternoon sort of song, and picks up quite quickly. However, there's quite an abrupt ending which doesn't sit too well for me but admittedly fits in stylistically with the theme of the album- so I'll live. 

8. Science Fiction: A TUNE. Already I have decided that the second side of the album is my favourite and maybe would've received TBHC better if the track listing was switched (but that is just a matter of preference.) SF is quite a dark sounding song with cynical and twangy synthesiser elements. Wouldn't sound too foreign in EYCTE, and could perhaps be Dracula Teeth's distant cousin. 

9. She Looks Like Fun: Very smooth vocals delivered by Turner on this track which integrate nicely with bass riff and Helders' drumming, but nothing compares to the sharp, twangy guitar solo that beautifully contrasts the song. 

10. Batphone: Pleasantly welcomed (but not surprised) by Matt's drumming on this track. It resonates to me as some sort of sleezy bar song, with the whiny repeated guitar riff creating an almost Phantom effect, like a spring being uncoiled. The ending line of "Looking out across your soul" is stunningly delivered by Turner, but I can't help but feel as though "wooing" his fans with sweet words is expected of him now. 

11. The Ultracheese: When it began I couldn't shake the feeling of it sounding like a musical number, like that one Danny sang in Grease at the drive-in, and it delivers itself as a drinking alone sort of tune. However, it delivered something I had been yearning for throughout the entire album when Turner began to belt the "kind to someone" line. It offered a dynamic uplifting, groovy change in tempo and the addition of the piano at the end was a welcoming tinkle of positivity in a song that is so heartfelt. However, a stand alone moment has to be the melodic "ooh" sang at the very end of the song, which echoed in the cavity i THOUGHT my lungs were (but clearly has now been replaced by that angelic sound.)


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As a conclusion, it is clear that the known sound of Arctic Monkeys has developed into something more mature than fans are used to. Long gone are the days of Turner blabbing on about fit girls in pubs and wankers with pool cues. It sounds as though Alex needs to dabble in a bit of slam poetry, as the ongoing theme throughout the album seems to be based around spoken word-esque lyrics. 

The bands decision to not release a single now seems less irritating to me and more wise. 3 tracks in I had slightly convinced myself the decision was made because there were no stand alone songs, however retrospectively they could have gotten away with Four Out of Five or perhaps Science Fiction- but releasing a single would do the album an injustice- after all, all well structured stories have a beginning, middle and an end and to release a single would be comparable to throwing away an important chapter in the middle of a book.

TBHC is admittedly very Alex Turner based, you can see why it was considered to be a solo record and arguably would've been better off left as one. Nonetheless, this album marks an important time in the Arctics life as a band. They're all in their 30's, they have kids, they have wives- it would be naive to expect them to stick to writing #Indie ballads or observational songs they were creating in their early 20's. TBHC is a remarkably introspective album with decisive and vulnerable lyrics. It's as though a song has been made from Turner's diary which is a theme that threads through the heart of Arctic Monkeys albums.  

The song of this post, like last time, won't be one from this album but a song cited as one that acted as influence! Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys

-L

Saturday, 19 November 2016

How long will it take for Tom and Libby to make a 3 minute video



Here's the link to the first video out of 10 I uploaded that my friend Tom and I filmed for a school assembly. We mess up a lot. 












Saturday, 2 April 2016

Was it Everything I Came To Expect?

Yo everybody!

So, I have not posted in an excruciatingly long time for multiple reasons: lack of motivation, work load, other priorities and yanno I've just not particularly been "feeling it". My first exam is on May 17th so I don't know why I decided now was the right to time to do this (it isn't. It absolutely is not the right time to post it.) But I've done it anyway so no there's proof on the internet of my procrastination.

I also decided to redecorate the blog, much alike how my nan quickly grows tired of the living room decor, I got a bit bored of looking at it. I've grown as a person in these past few years as well so perhaps the new layout is a reflection of my inner soul (probably not.)

Last month whilst in a lovely Manchester hotel with my mother I pre-ordered "Everything You've Come To Expect" by The Last Shadow Puppets. It was very much a spur of the moment thing. Caught in a hurricane of excitement as I'd just received a record player for Christmas any vinyls I had bought were a few years old and I'd never actually bought anything of the sort with my own money it had all been gift cards. So I decided to buy the limited edition vinyl, I like the band, I liked their last album, I could afford to buy it so why not, eh?



It arrived today and for some bizarre reason I decided to rank the songs in order on the notes of my phone and ended up adding little notes beside them. When the record was finished I suddenly wondered why I'd bloody bothered doing it (not like I know what I'm talking about or was going to do anything with it) but some of the things I'd written made me laugh so I thought "Put it on your blog Libby, yanno that thing you have but don't do much on anymore."

So that's what I'm going to do! I'll put them in order they appear on the album with the B-Side to "Bad Habits" ("The Bourne Identity") after it just bare in mind that it's not actually on the album but is, as I've said, the B-Side. They're going to be rated from favourite to least favourite (so a 2/12 doesn't mean it's a crap song it just means it's my second least favourite in of the album even though I genuinely love all of the songs.) SO! Without further ado:

Aviation: 11/12-This was my second favourite, very Kane heavy in vocal work and the repetitive riff  makes it pretty catchy and reminds me a bit of a Bond tune. The Line "Sectoral Heterochromea" (Sectoral heterochromea being when only one portion of the iris is a different colour to the rest.) is an odd line to get put into a song verse but I like it. I imagine it as a revenge track to some extent (with good harmonies.) What an immense way to open up an album.

Miracle Aligner: 4/12- I love the way "needing" and "again" are sang at the end of the line in the chorus and think the chorus is in fact the best part of the song. It reminds me VERY slightly of "My Girl" by The Temptations (No clue why.) I love the title of it, the imagery it creates of a person aligning miracles, in a constellation creator fashion.

Dracula Teeth: 5/12- This song was one that really stood out when I watched some of the live performances on YouTube, if I could compare the bass line to anything, I'd say it was almost You're So Dark-esque and has a fairly similar bounciness to it. As odd as this may be to say, I feel like the chorus is pitched to comfortably suit my ears and there's a specific part at 1:59 where the strings add a nice bow to the end of the song.

Everything You've Come To Expect:  8/12- I like to think of this track as very 'Circus Chic' it's got quite a hunting undertone to it. "The chalet of the shadow of death" line is possibly one of my favourite lines in the entire album. In my notes I've actually written "Good vocals from T-Bomb and MK"which makes me want to gag slightly but I'm quite the fan of how "death", "reflect" and "head" are sung. Overall I find the biting chorus to augment to the disconcerting but comforting sound-it's the sort of song I'd listen to if I were insane but wasn't complaining about it (or the song I'd do a little pixie dance to.)

The Element of Surprise: 6/12- The guitar is rather snazzy (you can roll your eyes but it was either snazzy or jazzy, either way I'd sound like a dad) Lyrically, the entire 1st verse specifically is beautiful and the overall retro sound of the song makes me think of some Sky TV show where a girl is performing at an open mic event at a student bar (in a good way.)

Bad Habits: 3/12- I still love the bass line for this song and will forever feel this way. Although a large amount of the lyrics sound like that game you'd play in primary school where you'd go round in a circle trying to finish a story, the "Should have known..." pre-chorus is my favourite thing to sing along to. Whenever I listen to it I get a distinct "dodgy party" feel, the sort of party you're at but regret attending. It's undisputedly (if that's a word) the most aggressive track on the album, it's got a bit more of an oompf to it than  some of the other tracks (even though the lyrics are perhaps a bit haphazard) but it's understandable why it was released as a single given it's stand alone qualities and hyped up tune compared to the rest of EYCTE.


The Bourne Identity: 2/12- It's a lot happier sounding than the other songs in an uplifting way and as a side note, the vinyl is translucent orange which I got (probably too) excited about. The line referring to a sequel you want to see but hope isn't made is a lovely simile and is further proof that good song writing can still exist. Generally I think the song has quite a retrospective/reminiscent feeling to it-it's as though a dad is talking to his kid, the kid being Miles (I'm joking.) It's quite a soft song but I will admit, I was quite shocked at the abrupt ending.


Sweet Dreams, TN: 12/12-By far my absoloute favourite song in the album. Clearly about Taylor Bagley, Turner's girlfriend, it's an extremely personal and confessional song. The vocals are rich and although he sounds a bit drunk at times, it's the perfect tempo with sweet strings and isn't at all like the sickly modern ballads you hear a lot of at the moment. In reminds me of the scene in 10 Things I Hate About You when Heath Ledger serenades Julia Stiles. Turner's tone softens when he sings "darling I can seem to quit" which warms the souls of all the ice kings and queens out there. Ultimately, I couldn't find a fault in this song and I am OBSESSED with the crescendo ending.

Used To Be My Girl: 1/12- When I first listened to the record, this was far higher on my list but somehow it's managed to find itself on the opposite end of the spectrum; this doesn't make it a bad song in anyway at all it's just a case of preference and ability to compete with the other tracks on EYCTE. The notes I wrote on this song are fairly incoherent it's a lot of "ohh beats, ooh MK." Key points however include: I like the dark message, Kane's verse is preferred over Turner's, this is villainous, nice Helders back up vocals and cowboy-ish. Not too sure what I mean, but then again I never do. This was the song where I noticed the "bad habits"esque guitar which is maybe a thematic component throughout the record? Either way, when I compared it to my personal opinions of the rest of the album it just couldn't compete.

She Does The Woods: 7/12- This was ranked 1/12 however upon listening to the album a few more times (yes I know I only got it today, chill out) I changed my mind and decided I preferred it. The lyrics aren't a let down and although they're not as abstract as that of Miracle Aligner for example, I almost prefer the simplicity of them. There's also a break in the song where it gets particularly "orchestral" as I've written which is probably technically wrong but I know what I mean (it's around 2:48.)

Pattern: 10/12- This nearly ended up being my favourite song and is my all time favourite so far of those being performed live (according to the videos at least.) The combination of the 70's vibe (paisley feeling), mellow tone and string inception give it quite a floaty feeling. "T-Bomb's" *cringes* oohing seems to have a bit more of a punch when it's sang live and almost melts into the rest of the song on record which I'm not sure if I prefer or not (personally I find it's quite nice having a bit more of a bite in a floaty track) but the ending is magnificent.

The Dream Synopsis: 9/12- This tune feels a bit Submarine ish to me. It's very laid back which makes sense considering it's a song about dreaming (if it was about a nightmare I'd be expecting something else.) The creative narrative takes the listener on a lyrical, vivid journey and oddly reminds me of Inception with it's self created, scattered thoughts. It makes me wonder though if it's based on a real dream Turner had, if it's perhaps a mixture of real experience, a cocktail of both or just a thought he had for a song.


Overall, I can't say if I think it's better than the last album. It's clearly an evolution from 2008 TLSP and I'm too caught up in the excitement of it's existence to actually think clearly but it's definitely a good album, that I am 110% certain of (not to blow smoke up anyone's arse.) The strings on the album deserve a fair amount of credit as well, without them I'm not sure it would sound quite as Puppety, however they acted as the seasoning to a perfectly cooked steak (odd metaphor.)

If you want a real review from somebody who knows what they're talking about and isn't just procrastinating and mildly fangirling then check out NME (I hope someone gets the joke.)

Seriously, if you came here expecting anything you just read to make sense then sorry to disappoint but passion often leads to nonsensical thoughts.

Song of this post isn't going to be one from EYCTE because I just spent a good hour rambling about it and I'd much rather you listen to it all and come to your own conclusion (a lot of pressure on me to pick the best song) However, I will leave you with one of my favourites from The Age Of The Understatement: Calm Like You by The Last Shadow Puppets

So long suckers,

-L

Monday, 2 November 2015

Mindfulness

Hello my fellow friends of the internet, I am here today to speak about something that I hold rather close to my heart and although I've recently just ventured into it, believe that it's beneficial to everybody! So without further ado, let's get crackin'!

Some of you may be asking "Libby, why is the title of this blog post mindfulness?" Well my dearest friend, that is because mindfulness is a very important tool in my day to day life. Mindfulness is "The intentional accepting and non-judgmental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations." And I find it to be very helpful in calming me down when I'm perhaps feeling anxious or need to take some time to step back and re-evaluate a situation.


I discovered the uses of mindfulness after having many discussions with Hannah's mum Mandy, who is rather good with dealing with issues of the mind. Whilst talking to her, she'd often say phrases or give advise that make total sense but I'd just never thought about before and I often leave her company feeling more open minded towards problems that I'm facing.

The way I use mindfulness is usually through an app called Smiling Mind, so if I'm feeling particularly anxious I'll go somewhere quiet, whip this out on my phone and take a few minutes to myself. Other than that I tend to force myself to become aware of whatever situation I'm in. For example, if I was stressing over not understanding a piece of homework I'd ask myself "What don't you understand? What could you do to figure out? If you go to see your teacher ASAP they can't really be angry at you for not understanding,can they?" etc just so things seem far more clearer and far less problematic.




Overall, being mindful is a key part of day to day life that is often forgotten in the 21st century. With the use of phones, laptops, iPods and whatnot, it's very easy to stop enjoying the little things. When you're out walking whilst texting your mates, you could be missing out on so much that's going on. I don't know about you but I know that I've spent far too much time just being alive and going through the motions of day-to-day life as opposed to actually LIVING through those days and paying attention to what the world has to offer.

That's it from me fellow friends of the internet, I shall leave you with my song of the post: Heart of The Matter by The Libertines

Till next time,

-L

Friday, 14 August 2015

25 Question Series: The Finale

Hey everybody!

So, this is my first "proper post" since my return, so I figured I may as well start off with tying up a loose end! I've got nothing witty to say so I may as well just hop straight in!

76) What do you label yourself as? A human. I strongly dislike labels.

77) Who would you really like to punch in the face? Katie Hopkins springs to mind?

78) If anyone could be your slave for a day, who would it be and what would they do? Amy would be my slave, mainly because it's about time she changes the film we watch on Netflix instead of me. She'd just do little things like pass me my cup of tea.

79) What was your last dream about? Ha. I (somehow) managed to get Harrison Koisser's number and rang him because I was angry that I'd ran out of maple syrup.

80) What's the colour of your socks? They're black with white stars on them and a red spiky bubble thing saying "BOOM!" on it. They're my favourite socks.

81) If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature, what new animal would you create? Don't platypus' already defy the laws of nature? Or are they just weird? I don't know, I'd probably try to make some sort of mythical creature, maybe a lion and an eagle to try and make a sphinx? Bit dangerous.



82) Can you do any other accents other than your own? Well I think so, but my Welsh friend doesn't seem to think my Welsh accent is very good. What's important is that I try, can't ask for more than that really.

83) What was the last thing that frustrated you? Just reading this question reignited my anger. I cannot for the life of me play an F chord on Frederick (my guitar.) I am determined to play that bloody chord.

84) What is your favourite Disney movie? Either Saving Mr Banks, Mulan or The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

85) Do you think children should be sheltered from unhappiness? Although not permanent, unhappiness is inevitable. You can attempt to shelter a child from unhappiness, but that's near enough impossible. I think it's important to let children explore the world and there are different risks in doing that. Your child may be unhappy if you make them brush their teeth before bed, that doesn't mean you're going to just let them off with not brushing their teeth.

86) Do you have a dream journal? No, I don't. I used to keep one when I was obsessed with Twilight in whatever year it was, but that didn't last very long. I tend to just talk to my friends now if I have an odd dream (like last night's.)

87) What does your name mean? Oh...I'll have to Google this. Apparently it means "Pledged to God" which seems fairly underwhelming, I was expecting something like "The almighty".

88) Are you usually late, early or right on time? Well, I usually have every intention of being early, but I tend to be right on time or on the odd occasion late.

89) Name three things in nature your find the most beautiful: Sunsets/rises, I would say the sea but I'll just say water anyway (because I quite like it when it rains) and lightning, because as much as it freaks me out it's rather mesmerising.



90) What would you happily do again? Go to Boardmasters! I went with two friends this year and we're already planning on going again next year!

91) Do you like to shop? Quite recently, yes. I think it's because I have more of a solid idea of what I like and what suits me (clothes wise) so I sort of look forward to shopping for clothes now. As far as food shopping goes, it's not really the most entertaining of activities, is it?

92) What's the first thing you do in the morning? Check my phone. I have a habit of falling asleep half way through conversations. Oops.

93) Do you think people are basically bad or basically good? Human nature comes with more than just "bad" and "good" and each person has a slightly different idea of what's "good" or "bad" so who knows, eh!

94) Have you ever been to Legoland? Yes and it was AWESOME.

95) What's the last thing you took a picture of? I took a photo of some polaroids I took at Boardmasters.



96) What's something you wear even in the shower? I have a ring my friend bought me quite a while ago from Sweden or Switzerland that I basically NEVER take off.

97) What's your favourite topic in history? I quite liked the Nazi Germany module. I'd like to learn about ancient Greece but I don't think it's part of the GCSE.

98) Have you ever burnt yourself? Yes, on hair straighteners when I was getting ready to perform with Olli. My finger blistered and it felt really weird.

99) What's the best thing you ever did for your parents? I used to write them poems illustrate them for their birthdays, fathers day and mothers day etc.

100) What's the most creative thing you've ever done? Well, I don't know to be perfectly honest. I have a habit of hearing/seeing/smelling something and then getting a really vivid image that I feel could be a part of a film. It's like my eyes are a really low-tech video camera and I'm just living for good angles, especially when it comes to car rides and stuff like that.


And that, my fellow friends of the interweb, concludes the 25 Question Series. I shall leave you with my favourite song this month Flame by Sundara Karma.

Until next time,

-L

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

We Meet Again

Hello fellow friends of the internet, I am back!

As you may have noticed, I've been M.I.A for over a month now and can I start with pointing out that this wasn't a planned or intentional absence. When I started this blog, I made a promise to myself that I would only post when and if I wanted too, as if I felt obliged to blog it would turn this hobby into a job and I didn't want that to happen. Of course, this can cause some problems (like 3 months worth of no posts) but in the long run, it's good to just go with the creative flow!

I do however have some actual reasons as to why I've not been blogging. The main reason is due to the "real life work load." This year has been busy! There have been interviews for senior student roles (head boy and girl, that sort of thing), trips to colleges for taster days, mocks (lots of revision-ew) and presentations to prepare among other things. So it's safe to say I've been a little bit loaded down with work to do (much like everyone my age.)

Since I last spoke to you it's been my birthday:



I've had quite a few barbecues, sleepovers and have gone on rather lovely walks:




And of course, spent quite a bit of time with my family:





But of course, this was all done over the period of 3 months or so! It's quite relieving when you're busy/stressed in a schooling/working situation to take some time out on weekends, or for an hour or so in the evening to have sometime to yourself or with your family- otherwise you end up with headaches and all sorts of horrible stress related issues.

That's it for my "hello I'm back" post, I hope you all have had wonderful lives whilst I've been away and continue to have wonderful lives! I shall leave you with today's song of the post: Wraith by Peace

See you soon (hopefully)

-L

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Live what you love.

Well hello!

I'm Ellen and frankly, I'm really nervous right now about introducing myself but hi! This is me and I'm going to pour my heart out to you lovely people about my love for life and how quickly it can be over (sounds cheery, I know!)

Well, on the wall by my bed is a picture with a quote that I bought from a shop saying "Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful" to me this is such an important thing to remember. My life is full of gorgeous, darling people (such as Libby) who just make days so much better.

Although only recently properly speaking to Libby, she has already made me feel lovely and has already made me laugh too much! Last night we came across the subject of bucket lists and how quickly life can be over. I said to Libby "I find it silly when people think they have so much time to do something when in reality anything could happen in the space of five minutes" and also to "have no regrets and so whatever you want to, as long as it makes you happy."



Everyday I live by this rule. Now, I promised myself that I wouldn't get too deep into this as I will make a fool of myself. However, just think about how much time you waste everyday worrying and arguing over small things. Here's some food for thought:

You could die within five minutes, would you have done everything that you wanted to when an opportunity presented itself?

Probably not!

So whenever you come across a tricky bridge or something you would normally be too scared to do, think about the other side of the bridge. Cross the bridge when you get to it and do it knowing that you've done something great, something that will allow you to grow old with no regrets. Do something everyday that makes your heart beat fast, do something that you will be proud to say you did after you've done it.



Do it knowing that anything could change by tomorrow and make the most of the moment and the time before you.

I got too into it! I apologise!

I shall leave you with todays song of the blog: Cocoon by Catfish and The Bottlemen.

Goodbye my honeys, Ellen x