Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Staffs Uni Charity Night of Music

Its a warm Monday evening at Staffordshire University and from the campus pub comes the docile toned of acoustic guitar and the rich vocals of our local vicar, Mic. He was accomplished by Jake on a Cojan drum and Craig on guitar. 

They opened that evenings charity event in aid of FoodHub, the university charity who support students facing financial difficulties.

It's was a lovely night filled with music by SkyBald, Rivers and Kidd, duo Dave and Jake and an solo performance by Craig. It was organised by Lisa-Marie Graham, a volunteer team leader of FoodHub. The night had a pleasant chilled air all evening. Musically it was all acoustic indie pop and folk, few original songs but mostly covers. Skybald create pleasant indie pop, you can find them on Soundcloud and are currently touring the UK.  Rivers in Kidd dressed like Gothic hippies and played folk songs. Dave & Jake plodded along enjoyably and Craig ended the night charmingly.

The highlight of the evening was Mic the Vic singing a heart felt rendition of 'Hit me baby one more time', sleeve of tattoos on show. Only at Staffs uni.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Voice UK star, Jordan Gray, releases first music video with cis/trans love scene in ‘Platinum’.

Voice UK star, Jordan Gray, has released the first music video with a cis/trans love scene with her latest single, ‘Platinum’.

Semi-finalist of the Voice UK, Jordan Gray, previously known as Tall Dark Friend, is attempting to normalise trans/cis relationships with her music video ‘Platinum’, her first single releases since being on The Voice UK. 

The video features herself with ex-porn star turn musician Mickey Taylor in bed as a couple, which despite the large majority of pop music videos containing similar scenes, is a first and activism by default as Jordan Gray is a trans women.

When asked about the music video being activism, Jordan said, “If it’s seen as activism it’s a reflection on society, it is but it shouldn’t be. Activism is a huge part of my life ‘cus I’m trans.”

The music video is a paradox as it is a form of activism, which is a positive move forward with trans rights and normalising trans/cis relationships, but it shouldn’t be unusual as the video is no different to other pop music videos, such as Paloma Faith’s, ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This’.

Also featured is Burlesque artist Isabella Bliss, who said, “She’s a great performer so why does it matter? It is new and unique but it shouldn’t be the be all and end all."

'Platinum' itself is a fantastic pop song full of energy and passion, with catchy hooks, snippets of rap and gorgeous vocals.

Jordan is also working on a rap EP under the name of Tall Dark Friend, which tackles head on trans right with explicit lyrics describing everyday life as a trans-female artist. 

‘Platinum’ is available to download on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play and the CD and Vinyl copy is available on Jordan Gray’s website.

Also available is Jordan Gray’s previous album, The Baffled King, under Tall Dark Friend on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Staffordshire University Diversity Fashion Show

Yesterday Staffordshire University’s LRV hosted the 9th Diversity Fashion Show in aid of the Student Unions Food Hub, which supports students with finance issues by helping to supply food.

The show started very well as it had a general feeling of professionalism with the smooth lighting and music by Birmingham DJ Lomi and confident models,who frequently gave their walk an individual flair. 

The outfits were interesting, well designed and culturally diverse as cultures were given there own section, such as the Chinese, French and Korean walks.

The outfit were mostly sourced from charity donates by PDSA, Air Ambulance and Douglas MacMillan Hospice, who had a stall set up alongside few other craft stalls, the exception being the Korean walk, as they were designed and made by Sarah Shannon.

The High Street walk contained good ideas for Christmas and New Years parties, The Prom walk by The Prom Dressing Room, was slow with a limited selection compared to the Wedding walk, dresses provided by Air Ambulance, which was better paced with a nice selection, although was brief. 

Fahrenheit, a local youth dance club were talented and entertaining, though a little disorganised but that was due to them being called in last minute and only having 10 minutes to rehearse due to the planned group becoming ill earlier that day.

Unfortunately, the presenters did let the event down with their awkward over-rehearsed jokes and lack of microphone technique.

The LGBT+ walk felt like tokenism due to how brief it was and that fact everyone came out together, not giving the audience time to appreciate each outfit.

The World Peace walk also fell flat as it followed the same pattern as LGBT+ but with everyone in white, with no message or purpose.

The end of the show was disappointing due to its poor pacing and lack of professionalism which was a shame as it starting well and had real potential.

Hopefully, next year can hold it together until the end.


Saturday, 10 December 2016

Former Keane member, Tom Chaplin, promotes solo album with intimate gig in Stoke.

Tom Chaplin, former frontman of Keane, promotes debut solo album ‘The Wave’ with an intimate gig at LRV, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent.

The short set was played to roughly 100 fans who won tickets via various competitions at Signal 1.

The set mostly consisted of new solo material except for crowd pleaser ‘Everybody Changes’ by Keane.

Tom’s new material is pleasant uplifting pop music, very enjoyable and catchy, this combined with his great stage presence, crowd interaction and general good atmosphere, made the gig something rather special.

Before the set, Tom commented on the new album.

“I was worried about it (the album) as Keane fans are a very passionate bunch but they’ve been very passionate and kind about it. I honestly wouldn’t go back and change it, there were no stones left unturned. I’m very proud of it.”

‘The Wave’ is available online and in stores and Tom Chaplin will be embarking on a UK tour in May 2017.  


Monday, 15 February 2016

The One That Got Away.

The last thing you expect when watching The Voice with wine and your Nan is to come across a talented established artist. You expect pub singers and wannabes with loud voices, not a pianist with ten years experience in the business. Jordan Gray shocked the public for various reasons but for me it was how such a talented artist slipped under the radar.

Trans-women Jordan Gray, aka Tall Dark Friend, has been playing the scene since 2006, self releasing albums that defy genre. Experimenting with pop, jazz, country and spoken word, this artist knows no boundaries. But don’t be fooled by this mess of styles, it’s all about that voice and she knows it. With uncompromising political and personal lyrics, she is no wilting flower.

Being openly trans is no easy feat, it opens yourself up to abuse and very personal questions but that said, if someone doesn’t take a stand and make a point of being confident and strong, who will? With her career surely about to finally take off she needs to decide whether to continue her transition publically, such as Isabella Bennett from Steam Powered Giraffe does, or privately.

Her sudden burst of fame came from her stunning performance on The Voice last Saturday. Quickly being pegged ‘the one that got away’ as shockingly no judges turned for her. Despite having numerous albums behind her and winning both Best Original Artist and Best Original Song in 2014 fame outside of her home of Essex eluded her. So The Voice seemed like the perfect  opportunity for her as her gender would not come into question until after her audition. That said I have to agree with Boy Georges comment that she needs to be seen as she is an energetic and dynamic performer who claims the stage and easily woo’s audiences. She has a rich flexible voice that screeches as easily as it croons. Her performance was emotional and honest. Her voice bewitching you. Though I understand her choice of Bob Dylan’s song ‘Just like a woman’,  I strongly think she should have performed an original song, partially ‘Corridors’ as that would have surely guaranteed a turn from Will and Paloma. Despite no turn from the judges the exposure of performing to the whole Nation will do wonders for our Tall Dark Friend.

Her most recent album, The Baffled King, is available online and she gigs frequently in her home town of Thurrock, Essex.

Charismatic, talented and with that voice, I expect big things from her.


Saturday, 6 February 2016

Savages - Adore Life

Adore life, releaesed on Matador Records, is Savages second offering. It's an album that takes no hostages nor does it compromise, opening with the fierce single The Answer. It growls and howls at you with an irritated circling guitar. The albums art is minimalistic and monochrome. The single clenched fist juxtaposed next to the title Adore Life is a call to arms, a command.

Stand out track, Sad Person has an almost sarcastic tone to it, with a reggae inspired  drum beat and screeching guitar.

Single Adore is sultry and alluring when put against the other tracks, not nearly as haunting as when heard alone with the bleak video directed by Anders Malmberg.

Slow Down The World is another reggae esc tune. Which makes sense of course as Reggae and Punk were brother & sister in the late 70s. Both voices of repression and rebellion. This song is a sexy but dangerous sound, the girl you watch in equal parts love and fear.

The albums ends with a haunting and unnerving song; reminiscent of Esben & the Witch. It's definitely a second album as it's more refined and confident. Its got a sense of sisterhood and unity to it.

Over all, fantastic.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Savages - 'The Answer/Adore'

New single The Answer is an angry roundabout of a song. Fierce and uncompromising. Guitar swirls round endlessly, harsh vocals preaching. Its hard not to utterly love these girls. Chaotic video matches, its disorienting but so much fun. 

Their latest offering, Adore is new territory. Its slow and menacing, like a slowly rolling in storm. The skies are bleak but no thunder sounds, no lightening flashes. Its sounds almost ironic and sarcastic to croon about adoring life over such a black backdrop. Not insincere just a cruel joke. The bleak empty video matches perfectly.

With such different singles the album is bound to be as fantastic if not better then their debut, which is no easy feat. 

Adore Life is out 22nd January.