Mandy’s Top 5 Albums Of 2017

Featured Images via Sundara KarmaNothing But ThievesCoastsKnox Hamilton and Foster The People 

With 2017 coming to a close, I wanted to take a look back at some of the incredible music that has been released this year. It wasn’t easy to pick only five best albums, but here are the ones that stand out from the rest of the pack to me: 

5. Sacred Hearts Club by Foster The People

Foster The People did not disappoint with their third studio album. They dabbled in a lot of new sounds (check out “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy”) that took me by surprise at first, but quickly grew on me. And of course the album comes complete with brilliant lyrical work from the genius that is Mark Foster.

Top 5 Tracks

  • “Pay The Man”
  • “Sit Next To Me”
  • “Lotus Eater”
  • “I Love My Friends”
  • “Static Space Lover”

4. The Heights by Knox Hamilton

Knox Hamilton didn’t disappoint with their debut album. The Heights is track after track of pop-rock goodness. Each track has its own unique sound, from the bright pop of “Rightfully So” to the grungy rock vibes of “Call Me Up.” 

Top 5 Tracks:

  • “Rightfully So”
  • “Sight For Sore Eyes”
  • “Washed Up Together”
  • “The Heights”
  • “Call Me Up”

3. This Life, Vol. 1 by Coasts

The Bristol boys’ second album was anything but a sophomore slump. Coasts explore more complex themes and display a sense of musical maturity throughout this album. From the feel-good “Take Me Back Home” to the heartwrenching “Born To Die,” Coasts deliver an album full of single-worthy tracks.

Top 5 Tracks:

  • “Heart Starts Beating”
  • “Let Me Love You”
  • “Born To Die”
  • “Chase The Night”
  • “White Noise”

2. Broken Machine by Nothing But Thieves

Nothing But Thieves’ sophomore album is nothing short of a masterpiece. The topics that they touch on are so incredibly deep and relatable. It’s hard to find words to describe the feeling of belting out these lyrics along with frontman Conor Mason, but the closest I can come is to say that it’s a cathartic experience. From start to finish, this album is truly a work of art.

Top 5 Tracks:

  • “Amsterdam”
  • “Broken Machine”
  • “Sorry”
  • “Particles”
  • “Live Like Animals”

1. Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect by Sundara Karma

Sundara Karma quickly became one of my favorite bands with their debut album. Their music has so much packed into it. The raw emotion of “Happy Family” that never fails to bring me to tears. The beautiful lyrics of “Loveblood.” The deep meaning paired with the funky beat in “Explore.” Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect has everything you could ever hope for in a debut album and more. This is easily the best debut I’ve ever heard, and certainly the best album of the year.

Top 5 Tracks:

  • “Happy Family”
  • “Flame”
  • “Explore”
  • “She Said”
  • “A Young Understanding”
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Gig Review: Marika Hackman

Featured Image: Marika Hackman

On November 17h Marika Hackman brought an alternative 90s sound to Leeds with support from Our Girl.

The solo performance of Our Girl had a low key, stripped back feel that was inviting and personable.

The Wardrobe quickly filled up for Marika and the amount of glitter in the room was inspirational.

Marika Hackman brought the house down on a Friday night with her unique sound. Personal highlights included  ‘Time’s Been Reckless’ and public debut of ‘When You Sleep’

Did you know that Marika Hackman used to be in a band with model turned actress Cara Delevigne.

Gig Review: Joe Dolman

Featured Image: Joe Dolman 

On the evening of the 15th November, I crossed over to the Fox and Newt pub in Leeds for a relaxed folky evening with Joe Dolman, Sunflower Thieves and Amy J.

3 pints of squash later and Amy J was ready to ‘Rock The Boat’ with a beautiful set mixed with her own material and covers including Passenger’s ‘Let Her Go.’

Sunflower Thieves aka Lily and Amy mix stunning close harmonies and heartfelt lyrics in their serenely calm duo set.

It was the penultimate night of tour and Joe Dolman brought ‘Something Beautiful’ to Leeds. With a mix of old and new songs and injection of soul with a Ray Charles cover Joe delivered a pure an unforgettable night.

EP Review: A Light That Blinds

Featured Image via Saint Raymond

Saint Raymond is finally back with a new EP, A Light That Blinds. It was completely worth the wait. 

This EP has such an incredible vibe to it. It kicks off with the infectious “Younger,” a song that anyone who has gotten that bubbly, butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling around a crush (so everyone, no point in denying it) can relate to. It’s a song to blast from a boom box while holding it over your head under said crush’s window. Okay, maybe that’s taking it a bit too far, but seriously, this song is amazing.

Next up is the sultry “Nightcrawling.” There’s a certain intensity in the imagery of this track that gives me chills. “Last Time” is a reminder that simplicity can be beautiful. The layers of vocals and guitars are mesmerizing, especially in the pre-chorus. The last song, “We Are Fire,” is nothing short of anthemic. I can easily imagine it being played in a packed arena with thousands of fans singing along. 

In short, this EP is absolutely stunning. This is undoubtedly Saint Raymond’s best work yet. I am forever grateful for the friend who said “hey, check this guy out,” because it led me to this fantastic EP.

Check out A Light That Blinds below! 

Bonus: Saint Raymond also released an alternative version of “Nightcrawling,” which is just as incredible (if not more so) than the original. Give it a listen below.

Song of the Week: Lifted

Featured Image via New Politics

Sometimes a song comes along that manages to perfectly convey how you feel at that moment. Right now, that song for me is “Lifted” by New Politics

Tensions are rising

How much can I take?

Tensing my muscles, afraid I will break

The damage is done

I’m left with a choice

Live with the pain or live without no voice

I’m lifted

Frontman David Boyd delivers these poignant lyrics with heartfelt emotion. He’s backed by tribal vocals that somehow manage to fit flawlessly in this pop-rock ballad. All in all, this song is nothing short of a tearjerker, and a relatable one at that.

Listen to “Lifted” below. 

Joe Dolman Gives Us “Something Beautiful” With New Single

Featured Image via Joe Dolman

My favorite singer/songwriter, Joe Dolman, released his highly anticipated new single today. Entitled “Something Beautiful,” the track is exactly what the title suggests. This song has a bit more of a pop feel to it than his earlier work, but still has that familiar acoustic sound I’ve come to love. I’ve always admired Joe’s lyrical work, and this track is no exception. He’s captured a feeling that I’m sure many can relate to, including myself. His melodic vocals are flawless as always. All in all, this single is nothing short of amazing. 

Image via Joe Dolman

The single comes complete with a b-side, “I Think It’s Strange (Acoustic).” This song is classic Joe, nothing but his voice, an acoustic guitar and subtle hints of keys. This beautiful ballad really lets Joe’s vocals shine, raw and full of emotion. I’ll admit it gives me chills.

In short, I am forever blown away by Joe’s talent. Both of these tracks are absolutely stunning. Give them a listen below!

Joe will be embarking on a UK tour starting on November 1st! Trust me, his live gigs are not to be missed (if you’re not stuck in America like me). Check out the dates below.

Image via Joe Dolman

Song of the Week: “Bite”

Featured Image via Troye Sivan

I’ll have to admit, I joined the Troye Sivan bandwagon pretty late in the game, well after the release of Blue Neighbourhood, his debut album. And I’ll admit I became a fan of his music in a pretty bandwagon-y way, by falling in love with his hit single “Youth.” But Troye Sivan’s album is so much more than just one pop anthem. There are so many tracks to love.

One of my personal favorites, “Bite,” is my Song of the Week. “Bite” starts off with only hauntingly beautiful layers of Troye’s vocals, leading into a gorgeous synth-filled ballad packed with vivid imagery sure to give any listener chills. It’s a track I find myself coming back to again and again, constantly humming the tune in my head.

Check out “Bite” below.