The Vamps “Meet The Vamps”

British pop rock band The Vamps makes a bright first impression with their debut Meet The Vamps.

THE VAMPS MEET THE VAMPS ALBUM COVER

The bar must be set somewhere in the stratosphere after these boys struck up three consecutive UK Top 3 singles, but if the tracks on their eagerly anticipated album are anything to go by, The Vamps could well do us another three.

Meet the boys of The VampsBrad Simpson (lead singer and guitarist with Harry Styles hair), James McVey (lead guitarist and, I guess, second lead vocalist), Connor Ball (bass guitarist) and Tristan Evans (drummer).

We all know the importance of establishing individual quirks and personalities in pop groups, so until that becomes apparent, they all simply look like River Island models to me.

As far as solid debut pop albums go, The Vamps sits right on the money.

Like a firm handshake, Meet The Vamps greets you with confidence. It is instantly likeable and it gives you a clear idea of the kind of music they make, which is bright, guitar-driven pop delivered with cheek and tenderness.

There are firm nods to One Direction‘s style of radio-ready pop, especially on raucous party tunes like ‘Last Night’ and ‘Somebody to You’, which were written and produced by 1D’s hitmakers.

However, the boys go twice as hard to make their mark on their debut by co-writing 12 tracks on the album.

‘Wild Heart’, The Vamps‘ second single, gives us a warm country pop twist with banjos and mandolins on the track.

They do it so well, a part of me wishes there were more folkier tones on the album. I mean, it would definitely work in their favour when pitching to the American market.

Watch the music video for The Vamps‘ ‘Wild Heart’:

 

‘Can We Dance’ (co-written by Bruno Mars) is still one of the most captivating boy band singles I’ve heard in awhile.

I like that it presents a slick-talking bad boy character with surprising levels of vulnerability beneath a drunken bravado.

“I talk a lot of sh*t when I’m drinking, baby. I’m known to go a little too fast. Don’t mind all my friends I know they’re all crazy but they’re the only friends that I have.”

Watch The Vamps‘ video for ‘Can We Dance’:

 

Potential single ‘Girls on TV’ is very beach party in Honolulu with summery guitar strums and a chorus cheesier than a mozzarella wheel (“She got legs like Beyoncé! Give me the eye like Rihanna! I wanna put her on came-rah!”).

Elsewhere, the teen heartthrobs show they’re just at ease doing stripped back ballads.

‘Shout About It’ is a tender, soft-lit acoustic ballad co-written with Matt Prime (who has penned for Jake Bugg and Olly Murs). It sounds like a proper slow dance number for a high school prom.

The sweetness continues with ‘High Hopes’ (co-written with McFly‘s Dougy, Tom and Danny), a twee love song with sights set on something long-term.

“I can move in with you. We can get married too, go on our honeymoon but maybe we should finish this coffee first. I got high hopes for me and you. When we grow old, I’ll say ‘I told you so’…”

It is quite apt that the album is titled Meet The Vamps because it just is that – an introduction. It’s a terrific and polished debut pop album that is already taking off with a lot of fans, if the #2 UK chart debut is anything to go by.

Hopefully by the next album, The Vamps will be leading with something that is a little more progressive than loud, foot-stomping party records.

What they really need now is a classic pop record that is distinctly theirs.

4/5

Samantha Jade ‘Up!’ Music Video

Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of meeting Samantha Jade would know that she is a real girls’ girl.

Samantha Jade Up! Music Video

In her latest music video ‘Up!’, the X Factor Australia siren gives you an all access pass to a frivolous girls night out with her and her mates around Sydney.

Director Lawrence Lim and the team at Tribal Apes (who also gave us Jessica Mauboy‘s latest video ‘Never Be The Same‘) follows Sammi on a treat yo’ self day of shopping around Paddington, gourmet seafood lunch by the beach, followed by cocktails and some dancing in the streets.

Notes for our international audiences: this is totally a typical day in the life of a sun-kissed Aussie pop princess.

Samantha Jade Up! video

It’s really lovely to see Sammi show a goofier side to her personality here after giving us sultry and emotive performances in her last two videos.

I appreciate the cute and Disney-like narrative of this girls’ night out.

I mean, we’ve all seen enough videos of party-goers getting trashy and messy. Not only is ‘Up!’ presenting a refreshing alternative but we know that it will hit the mark with the wide demographic in Sammi’s fan base. Did we even get a shot of her sipping the cocktails she ordered?

Samantha Jade Up! Music Video flash mob

PS – It’s not a pop video if there’s no flash mob, so the gang shut down Bent Street in Sydney with Sammi leading the pack in a tiny sequinned dress that gives Gina Liano a run for her money.

Watch Samantha Jade‘s ‘Up!’:

 

‘Up!’ was co-written by Samantha JadeMario Marchetti (who co-wrote and produced Jessica Mauboy‘s ARIA #2 hit ‘Pop A Bottle’) and Zac Poor (who has written for the likes of The Jonas Brothers and Jason DeRulo). The single was chosen as the official Socceroos World Cup Song so, ‘go for gold’ as they say.

It’s the first single since winning the X Factor that Sammi hasn’t collaborated with DNA, so hopefully this will show that she’s got a wider range of producers on board her long-awaited album, which is slated to be out sometime this year.

Charli XCX ‘Boom Clap’

There is a tide of exciting new recordings on movie soundtracks crashing in this month.

CHARLI XCX BOOM CLAP

We’ve got Pharrell, Alicia Keys and Kendrick Lemar holding it down on the Amazing Spider-Man 2 OST, Ellie Goulding and co. handling their business on Divergent, and Charli XCX and the likes of Birdy and Lykke Li for The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack.

‘Boom Clap’ is the soundtrack’s lead single and it’s decidedly a good one, given Charli‘s knack for making petulant ear-pulling pop.

It has all the signature moves of a Charli XCX track: 80s-style heavy reverb in the chorus and hard-hitting drums over a bed of synths.

Watch the lyric video for Charli XCX‘s ‘Boom Clap’:

 

It’s still nothing on the level of her past singles like the incredible ‘You (Ha Ha Ha)’ and ‘SuperLove’ but it’s got enough kick to keep her fans satisfied until another EP or album rolls out sometime in summer.

Word is, the girl has been in the studio with Vampire Weekend‘s Rostam Batmanglij and Rivers Cuomo from Weezer. It’ll be interesting to see how her artistry evolves with these guys in the mix.

There’s plenty of Charli going around lately too – she’s featured in Iggy Azalea‘s latest single ‘Fancy’, which came complete with a video paying homage to the iconic 90s film Clueless.

Bipolar Sunshine ‘Where Did The Love Go’

Hearing this song is like receiving an unexpected nice warm hug from behind.

BIPOLAR SUNSHINE WHERE DID THE LOVE GO

Bipolar Sunshine (aka Adio Marchant) is probably one of those up-and-coming English artists you should have on your radar, especially if you have a taste for beautifully-written, sentimental indie pop numbers.

‘Where Did The Love Go’, his latest offering, is an uplifting and subtle sun-kissed mid-tempo that sounds perfectly crafted to soundtrack a tender moment on a TV drama series.

Listen to ‘Where Did The Love Go’:

In case you’re shifting gears and getting ready for a night out, BiSun has got you covered with a clutch of slamming mixes on the remix EP .

Bipolar Sunshine dropped two EPs last year – Aesthetics and Drowning Butterflies – both showcasing his ability to deliver raw vocal performances with heart-on-sleeves lyrics. You can definitely hear elements of Kendrick Lamar in soft focus there.

All things considered with his EPs and quality remix packages to date, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of Bipolar Sunshine in the coming months. I mean, it’ll only be a matter of time before a headlining collaboration catapults him into the Top 10, right?

Listen to more from Bipolar Sunshine on Spotify or via his Soundcloud.

Klaxons ‘There Is No Other Time’ Music Video

Welcome to time and space according to Klaxons.

KLAXONS THERE IS NO OTHER TIME

The London indie rock band has dropped the video for ‘There Is No Other Time’, the first cut from their third album Love Frequency. Seriously, this song is a tune.

I don’t know what on earth happened with their last album but this new single, which is a collaboration with English producers Gorgon City, is a proper hit candy.

Director Georgia Hudson - who brought us ‘s ‘Don’t Wanna Dance’ video - gave the song a modern disco visual treatment.

It’s a stylish production filled with rapid cuts of bodies dancing under neon lights, the band (blink-and-you’ll-miss-it) and various cues of time and space.

It’s not something you necessarily pick up in the first play, but I love how the video opens with frames of a vast open landscape (the beach with seagulls) then slowly digress into tight and intimate close ups of body parts moving in a club.

Watch the video for Klaxons‘ ‘There Is No Other Time’:

Klaxons‘ ‘There Is No Other Time’ is out now and there is also a remix bundle, if you’re so inclined.

The band will release their first album in four years - Love Frequency - on 2 June. The project features collaborations with Tom Rowlands (Chemical Brothers), James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) and London-based DJ Erol Alkan.

5 Seconds of Summer ‘She Looks So Perfect’

Meteorologists have predicted this chart storm for months and now the thunder from Down Under is finally reigning on top the UK iTunes chart.

5 Seconds of Summer She Looks So Perfect

5 Seconds of Summer‘s proper debut single ‘She Looks So Perfect’ stormed the digital charts today, a month after the video hit YouTube.

The Australian pop rock band already saw the track become an instant hit when it debuted at #3 on the ARIA singles chart last month.

Luke, Michael, Calum and Ashton have been performing together for the past four years but things didn’t really begin to accelerate until they opened for One Direction on the monstrous Take Me Home Tour last year. The boys have been confirmed to support 1D on tour again this year so we can probably expect to see them become chart regulars in the coming months.

5SOS could potentially be the new generation’s Busted crossed with Good Charlotte, and they could well be spearheading a return to punk-driven pop on our charts. Remember a time when Avril Lavigne, Good Charlotte and Blink 182 were all over the airwaves?

I mean, even One Direction‘s moving with a rockier sound these days.

5SOS has written over 100 tracks for their forthcoming debut album, which is yet to be finalised. Some where in that vast hard drive of tunes will be collabos with Good Charlotte‘s Madden brothers and Alex Gaskarth from All Time Low.

Some key players who are helping 5SOS pull together their album include producer John Feldmann (who has worked with Panic at The Disco and The Veronicas) and English producer Steve Robson (who was crafted hits for Olly Murs and One Direction).

Watch 5 Seconds of Summer‘s ‘She Looks So Perfect’, which has ticked over 7 million views in a month.

5 Seconds of Summer‘s ‘She Looks So Perfect’ EP is out now with three additional tracks: ‘Heartache on The Big Screen’, ‘The Only Reason’ and ‘What I Like About You’.

Listen on Spotify now:

 

Shakira “Shakira.” Album Review

Colombia’s most truthful hips returns with a sonically diverse album of mature pop tunes.

SHAKIRA ALBUM DELUXE ARTWORK

It has been four long years since Shakira‘s last album and I don’t think she’s under any illusion that she can just dance her way back into the Top 10.

You get a sense that she’s trying to take her music to different audiences with Shakira. (yes, annoyingly stylised with a period that ain’t nobody got time for) and a result, we’re faced with a mixed platter that serves a taste of folk country, reggae and Latin rave pop.

Album opener ‘Dare (La La La)’ is a crowd-pleasing dance track hemmed by Shakira and the producers behind Ke$ha‘s records, Dr Luke and Cirkut. She leads the way with bossy, spoken-word verses and a sing-along chorus simple enough for toddlers to follow. It’s such an odd inclusion because there is literally nothing else on the album that even comes close to the same stroblit region as it.

The headlining single ‘Can’t Remember to Forget You’ (featuring Rihanna) is the strongest track on Shakira. Its potent combination of rhythmic, reggae pop and a head-banging chorus is precisely what the doctor ordered.

Watch the stunning video for ‘Can’t Remember to Forget You’:

The pace and energy changes drastically after those two songs when the Latin pop megastar starts pitching tracks to different markets.

‘Broken Record’ – written by Shakira and Busbee (the guy who gave us Pink‘s ‘Try’) – is a gorgeous, acoustic ballad about loving someone with trust issues. “I need you to believe in my word. I feel like a broken record. And I told you 700 times, I don’t need to keep looking. You are the one.”

Elsewhere, the Colombian singer ropes in fellow The Voice USA coach Blake Shelton for her first foray into making Nashville pop. ‘Medicine’, written by Shakira and Carrie Underwood‘s hit makers Hillary Lindsey and Mark Bright, sounds like a future radio hit in waiting.

I don’t understand how those two were overlooked when they were looking for a second single. Maybe they thought ‘Empire’ – a dramatic rock ballad written by Steve Mac and Ina Wroldsen (writers for The Saturdays) – was better suited to the international market?

Listen to Shakira‘s new single ‘Empire’:

This is the first Shakira album where the gifted singer/songwriter hasn’t had a hand in writing every single track, which is a shame because there are definitely moments where you miss her quirky lyricisms.

Who could forget these timeless lines?

  • “Lucky that my breasts are small and humble, so you don’t confuse them with mountains!” – ‘Whenever, Wherever’
  • “I’m starting to feel just a little abused like a coffee machine in an office.” – ‘She Wolf’
  • “She’s almost six feet tall. She must think I’m a flea. I’m really a cat, you see? And it’s not my last life at all!” - ‘Don’t Bother’.

Overall, Shakira. leaves you wanting more and not in a good way. She can do any genre of music she wants, I see nothing wrong with that. The problem is, a lot of the songs on this album just aren’t that strong.

I think of all the past Shakira albums I enjoyed and I look at this one. The lyrics here lack the bite of those on Oral Fixation Vol. 2 and more so than ever, I miss the vibrant musical textures of records like ‘Objection (Tango)’, ‘She Wolf’ and ‘Loca’. 

Highlights: ‘Can’t Remember to Forget You’, ‘Broken Record’ and ‘Dare (La La La)’.

Shakira. is out in the UK on 24 March and in the US on 25 March.