It's very easy to be cynical about festivals. It's becoming ever more popular to criticise the expensive glut of weekend music party's in fields than to appreciate exactly how vital they are to the culture of the UK.
I like to consider myself somewhat of a WOMAD veteran having first witnessed it's hippies and world music and incense and chai as a wide eyed 14 year old. It's changed a lot over the years but it's still my favourite festival.
A wise man recently introduced me to the idea that fans of bands can be measured on a score of 1 - 6. Kind of like a musical dice or an adapted Net Promoter Score.
More soulful than FKA Twigs' unsettling grace and with less sex than Kelela and BANKS, Laura Jae nevertheless fits into the new class of young female artists making pop interesting again. She counts Aaliyah, Bjork and James Blake as influences; The Weeknd with his 'weird mysterious aura' is her dream collaboration.
There have been some mixed messages from the George Michael camp this week. The weekend was full of reports of friends' 'concern' for the reclusive star as he was, according to them, tucked up in his beautiful North London mansion, refusing to see anyone, embarrassed by apparent weight gain, and scars on his head sustained by his tumble onto the M1 last year.
It's P-Funk royalty in the shape of George Clinton, a musical totem who, since his doo-wop days as a boy in the 1950s through to the funk, soul, psychedelia and rock of Parliament in the '60s and '70s, has woven P-Funk into an enduring message that sounds as fresh today as it did in 1970 when his band Funkadelic released Free Your Mind...And Your Ass Will Follow.
I love festivals that are small enough for you to happily wander away from your friends, have adventures with strangers, discover new music, and bump into your friends several times again. I'm looking forward to Castlepalooza, very much. Here are five acts that you really shouldn't miss.
Stormzy, the Thornton Heath residing emcee, is currently causing a deafening buzz amongst the grime music scene. The most talked about rapper in the streets finally released his official debut in the Dreamers Disease EP, which crept up and took the No.1 spot on the iTunes Hip Hop/Rap charts.
When I was 18, I bought F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night under the assumption that Fitzgerald had derived his title from a song by an Essex based Brit-pop band. I came to the conclusion that the author, like me, was a fan of Blur.
Live music makes me emotional, it always has done, but with a band like 'No Devotion' it's hard not to get emotional. For those of you that don't know the back story, here is a very, very brief write up, the band is comprised of the remaining 5 ex members of Lostprophets and Geoff Rickly, formerly of Thursday.
For acts like the Velvet Underground it can mean it takes years to build up the reputation their music deserves, or for other acts in can mean total obscurity for their entire career. For the composer and pianist Lubomyr Melnyk, it thankfully hasn't come to that.
What is it about rock stars that won't make them quit while they're ahead? ... I mean, just think of some of the more hedonistic behaviour - eating bats (Ozzy Osbourne), the shark episode (Led Zepellin), urinating on the Alamo (Osbourne again) - if any of them behaved like that in a nursing home then they'd be dosed up and diagnosed with senile dementia.
Sticking a sucker on your breast and squeezing the milk out, is not the most fun job you'll do as a mum. Yet it's often a necessary task. So, when I recently found myself 'getting my pump on', I fancied some musical inspiration.
This is the second in a series of New Breed blogs introducing some of my favourite breaking bands that have captured my ears in 2014. Every summer hails the emergence of a new breed of young, up and coming bands heading out on festival season opening up muddy fields and tents across the country ready to make their name known to the world. Here are 3 of the best new bands destined to make big waves through the end of 2014.
At Victoria Park he recognised that not everyone in attendance was a Nas fan and many weren't even born when the album was released. Here he said ''I'm Nas for those that done know me, I'm the one that said hip-hop was dead!
Together, they've got 27 Grammys, 20 Billboard Music awards, $1 billion in personal wealth, 112 million social media followers, 11 houses, seven fragrances, two world tours and one very cute child. All of their success and the angst about them splitting is based on a very questionable idea: That Shawn 'Jay Z' Carter is a good person. I dispute that.