In the words of Ross, “We Were On A BREAK!”

Hello internet folks and VFM followers!

Now, you may have realised it’s been a little quiet on the blog for a while now. I’m here with the explanation! Before you get worried, the site is going nowhere – VFM is to remain active for the foreseeable future and we have some fresh new articles on the way! However, now all out of university and trying to find our way in the big, scary world as adults, a lot of us have had to put our time and attention on other projects and into the workplace. Some of us have been travelling, others on internships and, in general, it’s all been a bit hectic!

LUCKILY a lot of us here at VFM have our individual blogs and pages that you can follow our ventures through! So, if you want some more reading material, or are just plain nosey and want to find out what we’re all up to, we’ll be sharing links soon! 😀

Alicia

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‘I Never Learn’ Reviewed: It’s Lykke Li’s Party, and She’ll Cry If She Wants To

lykke-li-reveals-i-never-learn-album-artwork

Welcome back, Lykke Li. A personal favourite of this writer, there was much squee-ing when Li began releasing tracks in preparation for her third studio album. ‘Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone’ and ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ became instant favourites, due to their catchy doom and gloom melodies. It was nice to see that Li had resisted the current trend of everyone releasing club hits (though I’m not sure how she would even go about that) and kept to her trademark simplistic musical backdrops. There’s still the bombastic-ness of her sophomore effort Wounded Rhymes, but its quieter, more subdued. Li has had a hell of a time since we last saw her, and we’re going to hear all about it.

 

There’s a bittersweet and tragic air that hangs over the album like the black veils Li found for her atmospheric album cover; imagine a whole album in the same vein as Wounded Rhymes’ ‘Sadness is a Blessing’, and you have I Never Learn. It’s maudlin, its miserable, but the most part of its pretty damn good. The title track starts quite quietly, but brings in strings to great effect and builds to a very hummable climax. There’s a temptation for singer-songwriters to let their voices get all the best riffs, but on ‘I Never Learn’ its the strings that really shine. There’s something delightfully retro about the best songs – from the 70’s feel of ‘I Never Learn’ to the so-90’s-power-ballad-that-it-comes-out-the-other-side-and-is-quite-alright of ‘Never Gonna Love Again’.

 

I Never Learn serves quite well as a less scenery chewing sister to Wounded Rhymes, or as an alternative soundtrack to Let the Right One In. With as much misery as there is on offer, it does wilt in places, and the relentless sorrow becomes a little dull at times, no matter how often choirs are thrown at the proceedings to give it a little extra wham. It’s to the album’s credit that it holds it together as much as it does – even though it feels like the album trails off rather than ends, most of it works. This much wallowing should not be this much fun, but it is.

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Music On The Go: “Chandelier” By Sia

Pick a song, any song, in the charts and you can bet your bottom dollar that Sia Furler had something to do with the production of that track! Her songwriting credentials range from Britney to Rihanna. She’s been revamping their genre and giving them hit after hit. Now it’s her turn!

“Chandelier” is an epic pop ballad about releasing yourself to the night when you have a broken heart and swinging from the ceiling because that’s just how Sia rolls! It’s been a good four years since she last got her solo on and I couldn’t be more excited. The time has come for her to step out of Beyonce’s shadow and become a hit maker herself! Good for you, Sia! You go, Sia!

Music On The Go: “Workin’ Woman Blues” by Valerie June

valerie-june-pushin-against-a-stone

Valerie June has my attention. She’s a singer from the Memphis music scene, who last year released the critically acclaimed album, “Pushin’ Against a Stone”, which got everyone pretty excited with collaborations from Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and the legendary Booker T. Jones.

June brings a raw, country sound to the table and what can I say? I’m a sucker for a woman with a story in her song, and the single “Workin’ Woman Blues” is a track you can’t let go. It’s Americana that has all the feeling of blues, but none of the baggage. Yet, the one thing you can’t ignore, which ties up the track are her harrowing vocals. As soon as she opens the line, “I ain’t fit to be no mother, I ain’t fit to be no wife,” you are gripped and taken somewhere else that isn’t a rainy day in England.

“Workin’ Woman Blues” is necessary for a music listener on-the-go, as it’s a track you can either chill out to on a lazy afternoon or put on before a Saturday night.

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VFM’s Top Singles of 2013

Alright, so there were more than a couple of duds that stank up the charts in 2013. However, as we wait for the results of BBC’s Sound of 2014 Poll, our VFM writers cast their minds back over the Year of Miley and reminded themselves of the great songs that kept them sane…

***WARNING: CONTAINS ONLY AWESOME SONGS***

CHVRCHES- GUN

What a year it’s been for girls in the music industry. Scottish gal Lauren Mayberry and her band of merry men formed the band Chrvches a few years ago and last year they made my summer with their single “Gun” from their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe. I’ve already gushed about these guys to my friends, family and online family (including my lovely VFM relatives) but what’s once more right?

The reason “Gun” rocked my world this year was a collection of things. Firstly, there is the totally synthetic beat, which is so stark and electronic and yet feels deeply connected to nature. Also, let’s mention the fabulously sassy lyrics that tells tales of girls threatening their bad men with tubular weaponry as they run away from the scene. Who doesn’t like a pissed off Scot with a pistol? In a world of ten-a-penny electropop bands Chvrches stand out as one of the most exciting because they are both accessible and fantastic, appealing to the masses and self-appointed prestige music critics alike. “Gun” represents their sound perfectly: raw, obtainable and just so wonderful!
JamesTaylorrr

LITTLE GREEN CARS- SPIDER LEGS

An Irish mix of singer/songwriter and folk has finally pushed the Dublin scene’s image away from the bland banquet of The Script. Harper Lee, their second release has something for everyone. It is well worth sitting down and listing to this CD all the way through, as it seems to be one of the few indie releases these days that have paid good attention to song ordering.

The title track takes you by the hand with well crafted vocal hooks to set you completely in the mood for the next 15 minutes. You are introduced to their American gothic lyrical styles, it’s very easy to find yourself quoting lines from all of these songs! However it’s the last two tracks “Red (Demo)” and “Spider Legs” that really make this band stand out. “Red” is a beautiful a capella with strong ties to Americana folk. They truly show off their harmonizing here, allowing you to be haunted by these cold lyrics. “Spider Legs” makes you truly question whether you are listening to a guitar based band at all. Melodies that leave you with goose bumps, textures so delicate that make you feel that if you were to pause the track, it would shatter like glass. That’s why “Spider Legs” is my track of the year.
MattLightbound

NYPC- THINGS LIKE YOU

While I had some problems with their album, I do feel that in this, the third single off NYPC, the duo well and truly knocked it out of the ballpark.

With its stuttering riff and typical shouty vocals from Tahita Bulmer, this is a song that takes a while to announce itself. Instead it stands in your living room, and slowly inspects everything you own before turning your world on its head by shedding its dark cloak to reveal party clothes and shouting ‘SURPISE DUET!’ And yes, Morgan Quaintance’s added vocals on the irresistible chorus raise this from just a very good song to one of the best pop songs released this year. It plants trumpeting synths, churning guitars, and vocals and watches calmly as they come together and pay off, creating a dark pop anthem that hurtles with purpose towards the ‘replay’ button. NYPC were always good at creating music that sweeps you up and surrounds you, but this is beautiful.

“Things Like You” is a slice of musical perfection that commands you to dance and sing along, and you would be incredibly churlish if you declined its invitation.
LassoMagicaRescarte

DEAP VALLEY- BAD FOR MY BODY

Okay, so it hasn’t officially been released as a ‘single’, but coming from an album that’s had accolades thrown at it this past year, I think you’ll forgive me.

From the very first ring of that crisp distortion, I knew there was something special about these two girls from California. Intent on catching our attention at the biggest festivals this year, they’ve got the U.K sitting up and listening! Indeed, the duo has fast become one of my favourite bands and, judging by the time their debut album has lived inside my car’s stereo system, my favourite album of the year. So, why this song in particular?

The answer? Because it’s simple. Because it’s clever. Because it’s empowering. With its sharp, stabby verses, catchy refrains and explosive energy, this is a song for some good ol’ foot-stomping, air-punching, hairbrush-singing, head-banging female rebellion. And god knows we’re due for some Rock’n’Roll freedom. Lindsey Troy’s rough vocals are emotion-packed and her carefree attitude and lyrics something to aspire to. As is the duo’s stage presence and playing. Their song lyrics are blunt, bold, and (in this case) dare to criticise the hypocrisy of older generations. They sing about not being made ashamed by others for being young, for being a bit reckless; something I feel is more resonant in recent society than ever before.

There’s something raw about their music, an authenticity that’s been lost along the way. There’s a dash of Rock’n’Roll rebellion, a spoonful of classic rock ethos, and a whole heap of sticking it to the man; this is a song that (hopefully) marks a new era for girls with guitars and drumsticks everywhere. This is a band for the modern day feminist.

Check out Deap Vally’s debut album, Sistrionix!
Alicia Ballard

FOALS- BAD HABIT

“Bad Habit”, a single off Foals’ third studio album, Holy Fire, is one of those tracks that you can keep playing again and again, yet it still feels fresh as the first time. Holy Fire as an album was a tremendous follow-up to their critically acclaimed predecessor Total Life Forever, and even though the album holds some great tracks such as “My Number” and “Inhaler”, I have to go with Bad Habit being my song of the year. I think it’s hard to describe music without sounding a little pretentious—so bear with me on this—but it’s just a song that stays with you. Yougetme? It’s a track filled with poignant lyrics, but because it’s quite upbeat you miss that the first time round. And that’s what I like in my music! Layers. Like an onion. “Bad Habit” was the perfect soundtrack to my own memories of 2013, and if you’ve not checked it out—do so.
CatSmith92

CARO EMERALD- LIQUID LUNCH

My favorite single of 2013 has to be “Liquid Lunch” by Dutch performer Caro Emerald. The song was released on 21 May 2013 as the second single from her second studio album The Shocking Miss Emerald. Caro Emerald’s music has been described as a fusion of Jazz and pop and that is clearly shown in “Liquid Lunch”. It’s Jazzy, upbeat, beautifully sung and is such a fun song. Liquid Lunch is a tongue in cheek song from one sassy gal. What makes “Liquid Lunch” different from other contemporary pop music songs is that not only does it have a mix of jazz but it also breaks away with the running theme of singing about going to the club, instead focusing on a more realistic and relatable aspect of what happens when we have a little too much fun on a night out. It is a song aimed for anyone who has gone out with a group of friends (maybe just to get something to eat) and woken up the next day with a banging head ache and an empty wallet. It is the ultimate hangover song.
KerrySlater

So there you have it! What were your favourite tunes of 2013? Leave us a comment below!

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Music On The Go: “Rumour” By Chlöe Howl

Eighteen-year-old Chlöe Howl has got critics and myself buzzing. As 2014 approaches, everyone is looking for that next star to heat up our airwaves and get our toes a-tapping and I think Miss Howl might just be one of those lucky few to get us going.

“Rumour” is a fun British electro-pop/indie funk hybrid about… well, rumours and the stigma attached to them. It talks about trying to find something genuine in a world made up of hearsay and general bitchiness. She’s shortlisted for the BBC Sound of 2014 alongside some pretty heavy competition but whatever the outcome her album is due out next year and this lady is definitely going to have us all talking! You go, Chlöe Howl!

Beyoncé… I was not ready

The Queen of Pop Beyoncé surprised fans all over the world last night when her self-titled album (that no one was expecting) dropped on iTunes… the BeyHive is in overdrive and the internet is possibly broken. You can’t go on iTunes and not see her face (check it if you want, I’ll be here waiting) and why?  Because we weren’t ready. And she’s so nonchalant about it. “Suprise” and then she goes back to instagramming pictures of vegan cupcakes… I just… I can’t deal.

 I don’t need to tell you that I bought the album, you can probably tell I have.

Currently on The Mrs. Carter Tour, where did she have the time to write, record and create accompanying videos for each and every one of the 14 songs on the album with extras!? 14 songs. 17 videos. £12.99 on iTunes…  There was no promo. The closest thing to promotion for this album was the samples of new songs used in advertisments for Pepsi and H&M. Beyoncé was on her hustle, they were basically paying her for them to promote her album (that no one was expecting). And for someone who’s constantly in the public eye surrounded by people who would benefit from leaking information, you’ve got to respect her for her level of secrecy that even the US government is unable to achieve.

All Hail King Bey!

The album is star-studded with featuring artists of Drake, Frank Ocean, Jay-Z and Blue Ivy makes her second feature on a song in the track Blue. We get unexpected appearances from Kelly and Michelle again (Superbowl 2013 flashbacks anyone?) as well as from the lovely mother Tina Knowles in the visual accompiament. Rap artists from Houstan Texas also feature in the videos as the Queen pays homage to her home town.

 There is a song on this album for every emotion, role and action of Beyoncé as a black woman. Yes I’m going to say a black woman, lets be honest here feminism often feels like its struggling with intersectionality in almost the same way as the coven and voodoos in American Horror Story: Coven. Like Destiny Child’s Survivor was a message (to either ex-members or the media, depending on which rumour you heard), this entire visual album is a calling out of critics and a rallying cry for general female excellence that Lady Gaga, Lily Allen, Katy Perry, Britney, Miley who are constantly praised for their interpreted feminist sometimes problematic actions (especially when it comes to women of colour) can only hope to achieve.

To all those who opposed Beyoncé as a non-feminist please take several seats. Not only are your arguments invalid in every way, shape and form imaginable. Beyoncé’s song Bow Down which caused a stir earlier in the year due to the use of ‘bitches’, has been transformed with a dirty hood beat with all the swagger and bravado of gangsta rap that black female rappers are famed for. Add a sample from Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s speech on feminism and why everyone should be a feminist and you now have the womanist anthem ***Flawless. Please tell me how Bey isn’t a feminist? Please, tell me again?

Wife, mother, single lady on a night out, sensual lover, sexual being, emotional soul, hard working artist, the mourner, the believer; there is a song for all of these parts of womanhood that seemingly contradict each other are embraced and interweave depending on situation or emotion. It’s almost as though she’s recognising all the conflicting and unique experiences that all women because we’re multi-faceted 3D people and not the fake, air-brushed 2D caricatures we are force-fed by the media on the daily.

As for me? Well I’m getting all these vibes from the album, my only fault was Jay-Z’s reference to the abusive Ike/Tina relationship. But other than that? It’s like travelling through every scattered thought in my brain Beyoncé has successfully located and ordered. She has successfully turned me into a stan. I don’t care. This whole album is a giant motivator and a confidence booster.

And well, if you’re mad from all the virtual ink Beyoncé is generating?

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