The mixing of indie rock-pop and dance music certainly seems to be the flavour of the month and now following hard on the heels of excellent genre releases from London Grammar and The Naked and Famous comes the debut album from the Chvrches (pronounced Churches). The Scottish trio's debut album The Bones of What You Believe is stuffed chock full of catchy tunes, wonderfully appealing songwriting and some very interesting soundscapes. Think M83 meets Robyn with a small helping of Depeche Mode and London Grammar and you'll get an idea of what's in store from a purely musical perspective.
One of the most consistently political bands of the 1980s, at its best New Model Army howled a rallying, banner-waving anthem for the downtrodden and disenfranchised of Thatcher’s Britain. It's fitting then that the Army's best album in a long time, maybe one of their best ever, should arrive at the start of the third winter of Cameron's Britain. Some records arrive at just the right time, Between Dog and Wolf is one such.
Hewlett-Packard's first Android tablet, the Slate 7 was a cheap and wholly awful device so when I heard the next one was 21-inch affair my reaction was one of incredulity mixed with foreboding. In short I expected a bad idea poorly executed. I'm happy to report I was utterly wrong on both accounts. The HP Slate 21 is a rather good idea very well executed. The only carryover from the 7 is the impressively low price. Granted £350 isn't exactly pocket change, but you do get quite a bit of kit for your hard earned.
For readers of more tender years a few words about the timescale we are dealing with here. Man & Myth is the title of folk rock “outsider” Roy Harper's twenty-second studio album and sees the light of day 47 years after his debut album, Sophisticated Beggar. It is his first album in 13 years. In the X-Factor era when artists arrive, release albums and then vanish in less time than it takes to blow your nose Roy's career has been almost geological in length.
Keen Elvis fans may know Crown Electric as the name of the power company that employed the young Presley as a delivery truck driver before he got the call to record his first session at Sun Studios. Sixty years on, it's also the title of the tenth album from Liverpool-born singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams - and her first solo record in almost four years.
Unless you've been under a rock for the last six months it can't have escaped your notice that all the major British telecos now offer 4G services. Well, almost all. 3 is due to launch it's network in a few weeks. Vodafone and O2 have just done so while EE got the ball rolling last year. To date 4G has meant expense but with 3 promising that it's 4G service will cost not more than it's 3G offering prices should start to drop across the board. Timely then that Nokia has launched a decent 4G large screen phone for less than £200, unlocked and SIM-free.
The Manic Street Preachers are going out with bang. Their swansong will consist of two albums both of which the trio wrote and recorded more or less simultaneously. Futurology, to be released next year, will be an electro-rock album affair that the band has likened to a forty-something version of their 1994 album The Holy Bible, while Rewind The Film which has just landed is a largely acoustic, sometimes even introspective affair.
Indie-rock five piece The Naked And Famous was a sensation in their native New Zealand seemingly from the get-go. The band's 2010 debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You entered the NZ album charts at No. 1 and went on to rack up an impressive list of awards over the following eighteen months. The band established itself elsewhere by licensing songs to TV shows and movies until the point came where it seemed The Naked And Famous was the most famous band whose name nobody knew. People eventually figured it out, and Passive Me, Aggressive You went on to sell well over half a million copies.
Back in 2006 Audi launched what it called a product firework - the idea was that like a branching firework all its ranges would spin off as many niche models as was commercially feasible so there would be an Audi for everyone. Hence the Q3, Q5 and Q7, the various cabriolet models and now the ever expanding A3 range. The latest model is something is a step into the unknown though because small, premium saloons don't traditionally sell in the UK. China and the USA yes, Blighty and Germany no. Audi UK is being quite open about not really knowing how many A3 saloons it will sell so I took the entry level 1.4 model for a spin to see if it's likely to strike a chord with British motorists looking to trade up from the likes of a Golf or Focus.
The Fallen is the fifth book in the The Enemy series by Charlie Higson - yup, that's Charlie "Fast Show" and "Swiss Tony" Higson. Though officially categorized as young-adult fiction the body count, gore and sheer horror of this zombie-esque apocalypse series means it's absolutely worth reading no matter what your age. Let's put it this way, as a work of sci-fi horror any book from the series will give you the heebeegeebees more than Max Brooks' World War Z. But before we get into The Fallen, a few words about the previous books.
To a casual observer The 1975 have seemed to emerge out of nowhere last year as a fully formed part-indie, park-funk pop band with slick and catchy songs destined to get stadium crowds on their feet and jumping up and down. It wasn't long until support slots with Muse and The Rolling Stones came along and a top 20 single called Chocolate. In truth though, despite looking like twenty-something pin-ups the band is actually comprised of lads who've been playing under different guises for the best part of a decade.
Lapland is the pseudonym of singer/songwriter Josh Mease. Born and raised in Brooklyn Mease has always found comfort in the solitude of his own thoughts, often preferring the landscapes within his mind’s eye over the bustle of the city that surrounds him. Lapland's debut UK single Unwise showcases Mease's knack for mixing various genres. One can hear the effect of the myriad of music styles and genres that have shaped Lapland from early synthesizer pioneers of the 1960′s and 70′s to French impressionist composers like Ravel and Debussy and 1970′s rock staples such as Fleetwood Mac.
If you are of a certain age and have a record collection full of albums by Kate Bush, Clannad, Everything but the Girl and Virginia Astley then you really should listen to the new album from London Grammar, a British indie pop trio consisting of Hannah Reid, Dot Major and Dan Rothman. Reid is the immediate strength here, she has the sort of voice that knocks your mind into neutral and makes you forget what it was you were doing the first time you hear it. It's a bit Kate Bush, a bit Judie Tzuke, a bit Tracey Thorn and altogether, utterly, hopelessly, lovely.
Harry Potter as Allen Ginsberg? Indeed. Actually that shouldn't come as such a shock because post-JK Daniel Radcliffe is developing into a pretty fine actor and it helps that you looks not unlike the young beat poet. Directed by John Krokidas Kill Your Darlings is his directorial debut and got its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival where it received some very positive reactions.
If two years ago I has suggested that mobile phones would soon sport 6.4-inch screens and processors more powerful than laptops you would have laughed in my face. Hell, I'd have laughed in my face. But that is exactly what Sony's new Xperia Z Ultra is. For a phone the Ultra boasts an almost ludicrously high-end specification - 6.4-inch screen? Check. 2.2GHz quad-core CPU? Check. 1920 x 1080 display resolution? Check. Waterproof and dust resistant? Check. Cor blimey as they used to say.
Yesterday Apple announced two new iPhones. In years gone by that news would have riveted people to their seats, had crowds out in the streets chanting Steve Job's name and set the press all a-quiver. But this time around media coverage was remarkably muted as was the public reaction. Has Apple lost it's mojo? Is its kit simply no longer that exciting? Have we gotten blasé about new tech? Is Apple simply being beaten by the likes of Samsung whose Gear smartwatch pulled in the headlines last week? Should you give a monkey's about Apple's new iPhone handsets? Read on.
This years Frankfurt Motors Show was all about plug-in hybrids. You could hardly get between stands for falling over power cables left lying around to underline that fact that you could plug the car at the end of them into a wall socket to charge its batteries and get some zero-tailpipe emissions motoring done. Of course it wasn't all hybrids, but it was impossible to navigate the halls and not come away with the impression that in ten years time most of us will be driving cars we can charge like our mobile phones even if they still have petrol or diesel engines under the bonnet.
Like Hoover, Jaffa Cake and Airfix the word Kindle has become synonymous with eBook readers despite there being a number of other devices available from the likes of Kobo, Nook and Sony. Now the most popular of them all, the backlit Kindle Paperwhite, has had a major overhaul which promises a host of new features and an all new display. Is that enough for the Paperwhite to keep its crown as King of the eReaders?
I've never been quite sure what the Arctic Monkeys were all about. When they first broke back in 2006 they were clearly an indi band but then in 2009 they turned to Josh Homme to produce their new album. Under the guidance of the Queens of the Stone Age frontman that they performed a stylistic u-turn with 2009's Humbug, ditching the indie sound of their first two albums for a much darker, more ominous rock soundscape. So is AM more of the 2006 or 2009 Monkey's. Well, it's 2009 again, and then some.
With a dedicated fan base, a European tour supporting L.A Guns and offers from half a dozen record labels under their belt, Damn Dice is about to release a new 6 track EP called Wild ‘N’Ready. Relatively new to the music scene (the band formed in 2011), Damn Dice have quickly gained respect among music fans, musicians and critics alike with positive notices flooding in even from big names like Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe and Beau Hill of Beau Hill Productions (Alice Cooper, Europe, Warrant, and even Stevie Nicks!).