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Two men, two cellos, one heart

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One thing that personally struck me as I sat in the Royal Opera House in Valletta was the passion that Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser put into their performance. You could see the love towards what they do in the way they got lost in the music they were playing, from different genres and artists including Coldplay, ACDC, The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson amongst many others.

2Cellos is made up of two Croatian musicians, Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, and together they raised the bars of cello playing. Their fame all started in 2011 when they uploaded their rendition of the king of pop, Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal to Youtube. This same cover landed them a record deal with Sony Masterworks and was featured in Fox’s TV series Glee, with Naya Rivera and Grant Gustin accompanying them. They have produced two music albums, one in 2011 called 2Cellos and another one in 2013 called In2ition. The first album got them as far as winning the Best International Album award, while their second album got nominated for the same award but did not manage to hit the heights of winning like the first one had.

Although achieving such great fame, Sulic and Hauser still remain down to earth, friendly and funny, going as far as staying at the theatre after their performance to meet everyone present in the audience. Their performance constantly involved the audience with many leaving their seats and moving closer to the stage dancing, jumping and singing. One thing I know for sure is that I will definitely go and watch them play again.

Posted in Culture, Music

Gozitan post-rock band to release second single

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Gozitan post-rock act ‘They Come in Twos’ will officially release their second single, titled “Through the Trenches (Into the Light)” on the 22nd of July. In a press release, they describe the song as one that makes use of strong dynamics, heavy guitars and drums while delving further into the experimental side through the utilization of various strings and electronica.

They describe the song’s concept as being about the ‘personal battle to confront the toughest of obstacles in order to achieve the ultimate goal, whatever it may be, and no matter how dirty one’s hands get in the process.’

‘They Come in Twos’ is made up of songwriters Christian Farrugia, formerly of Saving Alexis, and Paul Formosa, both hailing from Xaghra, Gozo. Currently a studio-only act, the band is planning to issue further releases throughout the second half of 2014.

“Through the Trenches (Into the Light)” was recorded at 3some Studios, Msida, produced by Kenny D’Ugo and Dave Calleja and mixed and mastered by Kenny D’Ugo.

The debut single of ‘They Come in Twos’- “Static Made This Way”

Posted in Culture, Music

Junior Eurovision Song Contest – Call for Volunteers

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As a result of Gaia Cauchi (S.G.)’s victory last year with her song ‘The Start’, Malta will be hosting the Junior Eurovision Song Contest for the first time on the 15th of November at Malta Shipbuilding in Marsa.

To ensure that this popular event is a success, the Public Broadcasting Authority (PBS) has released a call for volunteers to help in certain activities, such as delegating hosts and front office service. There are even open positions for volunteers willing to help in photo and video editing, among others.

This could be a wonderful opportunity for students currently reading for a degree in communication or tourism studies…or for students who are just fans of the show!

 

Check out the image below for more details about the posts available and details on how to apply:

 

                                                                                                          jesc

 

 

Posted in Culture, Music

Top 10 Moments of Brits 2014

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Considered to be the British version of the Grammys for the past 34 years, the Brits is the witty ad entertaining award show which is always sure to guarantee some amazing performances, awesome acceptance speeches, and the occasional unexpected blunder. Here, in my opinion, are the 10 most memorable moments from this year’s event which was held at the London O2 on Wednesday the 19th of February.

10. Ellie Goulding genuinely shocked

Most of us expected her to win Best British Female, but she definitely didn’t. Almost unable to speak, Ellie Goulding gave a hasty speech while trying to remind herself that the man behind ‘Purple Rain’ just handed her the trophy. Don’t worry though, she quickly came to her senses and performed an energetic mashup of ‘I Need Your Love’ and ‘Burn’ later on. And yes, this means Prince is still alive.

9. Katy Perry with her lifetime supply of highlighters

Looking like she just came out of a stationery, as well as giving some of our Carnival floats a run for their money, Katy Perry clearly showed off the biggest production of the evening. Apart from now slowly becoming predictable, and not really brushing up on her vocals, Katy miserably tried to put in anything Egyptian-related into her performance of ‘Dark Horse’. Insert a Sphinx headdress, and it would have been perfect.

8. Pharrell still very Happy with his hat

Closing the Brits are a huge shoe to fill, so Pharrell Williams again wore his American pilgrim headgear, since for some reason people now seem to know him more this fashion statement than his music. Teaming up with Nile Rodgers to perform his infectious hit from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack, Pharrell ended the show in a great way. But seriously, am I the only person who can’t take him seriously with that goddamn hat?

7. Beyonce wows us all

Returning to the Brits stage after a decade, Beyonce was the complete opposite of her risqué appearance at the Grammys. No one can deny that this diva is still the most admired powerhouse in the music industry. A beautifully presented stage, the strongest voice of the night and a potential future Beyonce hit impressed everyone, proving you do not have to twerk to be memorable. We don’t need another Miley.

6. Harry Styles continuously teased

To accept their first award, the boy band everyone loves to hate were one member short when Harry Styles ‘had to do a wee’. This sparked on-going one liners targeted towards the heartthrob by the host James Corden, including my personal favourite when he told now-single Kylie Minogue “As for Harry Styles, I think you might a bit young for him”.

5. Bastimental

The most epic collaboration of the night came when British Breakthrough winners Bastille performed a mashup of hit singles ‘Pompeii’ and ‘Waiting All Night’ with Rudimental and vocalist Ella Eyre. The latter song went on to win Best British Single. This was one of those performances we couldn’t keep our eyes off of from beginning to end, including Ella’s black bodysuit. Google the image, you’ll thank me.

4. James Corden on fire, literally

This happened immediately after the opening performance by Arctic Monkeys, and I personally didn’t realize it was a stunt made just so that the host could say “that performance was on fire”. Yes, I am very gullible. You have to search for a video of it to fully grasp how believable it was, at least it was to me. But seriously, if you see an award show presenter with his arm aflame who starts shouting ‘Oh My God’, you have to end up checking whether you missed the April Fools Day memo.

3. Lorde in general

My obsession with this 17 year old’s music has grown to such a degree, that I couldn’t contain my happiness when Lorde beat pop superstars Lady Gaga and Katy Perry to win Best International Female. And Disclosure’s revamp of ‘Royals’, with Lorde herself providing the vocals, was almost better than the original. Say that she’s overrated all you want, but her deserved success at such a young age is undeniable. Thanks to her, I have accepted that I can never be part of the Royal family.

2. ‘Scotland, please stay with us’

This was officially the most random and confusing award given this year. In response to releasing a surprise album in 2013, David Bowie unexpectedly won the trophy for Best British Male, despite fan favourites Tom Odell and John Newman also being nominated. But that was the least of the weirdness. Noel Gallagher, evidently drunk, announced the ex-Ziggy Stardust as the winner, followed by the words “Did you think David Bowie would be here? He hasn’t got time for this s***!”. Well Noel, he could have at least left a thank you video. But no, he decided to send an even more drunk Kate Moss to accept the award on his behalf and read his speech, and who was wearing one of Bowie’s own costumes. And yes, the speech included the words: “Scotland, please stay with us”. Hashtag cray.

1. Alex Turner gets hilariously drunk

Good old Alex, the man you can rely on to make you laugh your socks off when he becomes extremely intellectual after a couple of glasses. After an abundant intake of champagne, the Arctic Monkeys frontman spent his acceptance speech for Best British Album philosophizing about the science of rock music. In the meantime, award presenter Emeli Sande stood on the side smiling awkwardly and wishing she had presented a different award. For ending his slurry monologue with the strong words: “Rock n roll will never die, and you can’t do anything about it”, I applaud you Alex. Nice save.

Posted in Music

Best 10 albums of 2013

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It might sound dramatic, but it was extremely difficult to limit the list below with only 10 albums. This is simply because 2013 was another great year for indie music, and particularly for up and coming bands who have attained international acclaim in these past 12 months. So, before we start off with our top 10 personal picks, here are some other albums from the year which we also loved but couldn’t fit in to the shortlist: Home by Rudimental, The Golden Age by Woodkid, If You Wait by London Grammar, Tribute by John Newman and Mechanical Bull by Kings Of Leon.

For all those who say modern music has nothing to give, these 10 albums will probably prove you wrong:

10. Native by One Republic

After the underrated success of 2009′s ‘Waking Up’, many One Republic fans were anxious as to whether the band would make a comeback. However, they did so stronger than ever with their third record Native. With lead singer Ryan Tedder’s indescribably amazing songwriting skills, released hits such as ‘If I Lose Myself’ and ‘Counting Stars’ have paved the way for a brighter future for One Republic. Although I personally believe they have even more to give, this band has finally opened itself to versatility rather than sticking solely to its soft rock trademark sound.

Most popular single: Counting Stars
Favourite track: Feel Again

9. AM by Arctic Monkeys

Although slightly repetitive for my personal taste, consensus among critics is that AM was by far one of the best albums of the year, and still rightly so. Upon releasing ‘Do I Wanna Know’ in June as a teaser for their 5th record, Arctic Monkeys regained outright respect from the music industry for polishing their hard rock stamp and making it larger-scale. From head-banging moments in ‘Arabella’ to a touch of John Lennon inspiration in ‘No.1. Party Anthem’, as well Alex Turner’s glorious lead vocals, this album needs to be on your playlist pronto if you love to feast on fresh rock music.

Most popular single: Do I Wanna Know
Favourite track: One For The Road

8. Days Are Gone by Haim

Constantly nicknamed the modern Fleetwood Mac, the 3 sisters from LA provided a critically-acclaimed debut that cannot go unnoticed. Combining 70′s Americana and classic rock with modern synth pop, Haim were the most intriguing breath of fresh air for 2013 after releasing ‘Forever’ and ‘Falling’. Apart from their strong girl-power messages and catchy tunes, Days Are Gone contributed to an increase in appreciation for raw rock music within the teenage crowd, also since Haim have been one of the few recent bands to sound even better live than on the record.

Most popular single: The Wire
Favourite track: Don’t Save Me

7. Fire Within by Birdy

At the age of 15, Birdy became the angelic voice stuck in everyone’s head due to her magical debut of covers, including ‘Skinny Love’ which attained more popularity than Bon Iver’s original version. Two years later, the 17 year old has shown off her songwriting skills to the fullest with 11 astounding new singles, which inevitably give us goosebumps. While holding on to her piano in ‘All You Never Say’ or ‘No Angel’, we cannot help but also love her voice in the more upbeat folk tracks ‘Light Me Up’ and ‘All About You’. Effortless and elegant, yet completely relatable, I put Fire Within on repeat quite a few times this year, and I suggest you do the same.

Most popular single: Wings
Favourite track: Strange Birds

6. The Fire by Ira Losco

With strong competition from The Crowns (Someone Else) and Stalko (Grandiloquence), I had to include Ira Losco’s fourth album in this list, being my favourite from the local scene. The general public is mostly aware of the 3 amazing singles released from The Fire, but you need to hear the track-list from start to finish to truly appreciate Ira’s determination to make Maltese music sound international and professional. Heavily influenced by RnB in ‘Is This The Love?’, reggae in ‘What I’d Give’ and soft rock in ‘Waiting’, the former Eurovision star shows us she is capable of maintaining public interest without kicking aside her versatility and originality. Able to effectively tell a different story through each song, this is an album which affirms the overrated phrase ‘Proud to be Maltese’.

Most popular single: The Person I Am
Favourite track: The Way It’s Meant To Be

5. New by Paul McCartney

The living legend himself shows no hint of halting his career with his 16th studio album, which has literally been music to my ears since the first listen. Containing 12 original songs including the released title track, New provides a perfect mix of songs which, either hint at the former Beatle’s initial writing styles, or entice listeners with Paul’s constant desire to experiment with new genres (excuse the pun). While ‘Alligator’ could have easily been featured on a Beatles album, or ‘Queenie Eye’ on a record by Wings (Paul’s band after the Beatles), other tracks like ‘Hosanna’ and ‘Save Us’ keep us excitedly guessing as to what the 71 year old still has in store for his loving fans.

Most popular single: New
Favourite track: On My Way To Work

4. Bad Blood by Bastille

Being a fan of Bastille was on every music lover’s mind this year. Thanks to the worldwide success of ‘Pompeii’, this London band’s debut was exposed to the interested ears of countless potential die-hard followers, mostly owing to this album’s unique indie sound. Their ingenious cover of the 90′s club hit Rhythm of the Night (‘Of The Night’), for instance, evokes Bastille’s capability of remaining original yet current. With a consistent quality playlist, Bad Blood should be your first choice for those boring traffic weekdays or never-ending study sessions.

Most popular single: Pompeii
Favourite track: Laura Palmer

3. Long Way Down by Tom Odell

Becoming the first male to be chosen as Critics’ Choice at the Brits in early 2013, undoubtedly helped Tom Odell’s highly-acclaimed Long Way Down to become the ideal soundtrack for broken hearts everywhere. But what this British singer-songwriter does differently is make love develop into epic-sounding records, leaving positivity post break-up. Between unconditional love in ‘Grow Old With Me’ and losing one’s other half in ‘Hold Me’, are a beautiful collection of tracks to ease anyone’s broken heart.

Most popular single: Another Love
Favourite track: Sirens

2. Pure Heroine by Lorde

Firstly, I will never be able to conceive how Kiwi singer-songwriter Lorde is only 17 years old. Secondly, it is astonishing how 11 songs consisting of simple beats and relatable lyrics succeed in leaving listeners in awe of this girl’s undeniable talent. She may have become an overnight household name thanks to the chart-topping ‘Royals’, but this teen sensation has been writing and preparing her debut record since the age of 12. With themes ranging from adolescent crushes in ’400 Lux’ and true friends in ‘Team’, to low self-esteem in ‘A World Alone’, Lorde is evidently driven by her avant-garde self. She herself has admitted to choosing the title Pure Heroine because of its grand but controversial double connotation.

Most popular single: Royals
Favourite track: Glory & Gore

1. Night Visions by Imagine Dragons

Upon discovering them late last year with the track ‘It’s Time’, I was instantly hooked to the uniquely powerful sound of Imagine Dragons, and Night Visions is one of the few albums from this year that I thoroughly loved listening to multiple times from beginning to end. Despite being known mostly for rock hits ‘Radioactive’ and ‘Demons’, this debut introduces the band as extremely experimental. From the easy-listening ‘On Top Of The World’ to the anthemic ‘Nothing Left To Say’, Imagine Dragons prove they have no fear of crossing boundaries into folk, alternative or electronic music. If you want a versatile album which leaves you pumped with excitement to hear more, you need to bring ‘Night Visions’ into your life as soon as possible.

Most popular single: Radioactive
Favourite track: Tiptoe

Posted in Music, Opinion

Introducing Juno and the Wolf

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Enthusiastic and full of energy, Geraldine Sammut and Sophie Vella talk to student band Juno and the Wolf about their influences in creating their music, and about their upcoming  plans.

Juno and the Wolf are Corey Farrugia (left), Samwel Mallia (middle), James Azzopardi (right) and Kristian Schembri (top).

How did you guys meet and what inspired you to start making music together?

Sam: It all started off as two projects. Corey, Kris and I used to be in a separate band.  During a few spontaneous jamming sessions, we found that  we really jelled well together. James and I also used to get together and have our own jamming sessions.

Kris: Corey, Sam and I decided to branch out on our own, but we needed another guitarist. That’s when Sam introduced us to James.

James: Sam and I had already created new material from our jamming sessions, and Kris, Corey and Sam had material from their previous band. Once we all collaborated together, it all fell into place.

What are your musical backgrounds?

James: I was 9 when I started to learn the clarinet and study musical theory at my local band club. When I was about 15 I became interested in the guitar, and I never really looked back from that.

Corey: I was given my first guitar as a gift by my parents a little before I entered sixth form. Although having been part of various bands such as “Skatenati”, this is the first time where I am mainly playing guitar.

Kris: I was always interested in percussions from a very young age. When I was 6 years old, I started to learn the violin but later I stopped once I had grasped playing drums at the Seminary. Eventually, I joined the National Orchestra and played at various churches. Now I play part-time with the National Orchestra, and play more seriously with the band.

Sam: As for me, I learnt to play the guitar at the Seminary. Two years later, I was given an electric guitar for my 16th birthday, so I started to take it more seriously. I’m mainly self-taught. I learnt to play the bass guitar when the band realised we needed one.

Who are your influences?

James: When I was a child, I was influenced by my father who used to listen to the Beatles. Later, I enjoyed listening to Iron Maiden and thrash metal bands. Then, I really got into progressive and art rock, listening to bands like King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Camel and Rush. The emotional guitar work of John Frusciante is on of my major influences, but I am also inspired by countless other genres and bands.

Corey: My musical roots started in punk rock but I became disillusioned with it. I started to get more interested in grunge and 80s rock music. Then I came across TOOL which resulted in an instant fascination in their brilliant lyric writing, and their progressive type of music. After having experienced this, I started to get more involved in the genre. This resulted in my current interest in desert rock and progressive stoner/ doom rock (namely Godless Funk of Bonanza, Planet of Zeus, and Beehoover). I am currently also exploring hip hop and electronic music.

Kris: My family is quite musical, so I was introduced to classical music at a young age. The more I grew, the more that genre intrigued me. The first band I was seriously interested in was Led Zeppelin. I went on to listen to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and old military Maltese marches. Classic composers like Wagner, Mozart, and Beethoven really inspire me too. Ethnic music and jazz, especially Brian Blade, are also great influences.

Sam: I first got a taste of rock music with Green Day in my early teens, coupled with classic rock like Led Zeppelin. The true turning point was Bloc Party’s debut “Silent Alarm” that introduced me to the alternative/indie rock scene. This is where I discovered acts like The Joy Formidable and Radiohead. I’m also hugely influenced by the 90s Alternative Grunge sound, which led to my most profound influence- The Smashing Pumpkins. Shoegaze acts like My Bloody Valentine and the soundscapes of Post Rock acts like Mogwai also greatly influence me. I’m currently listening to progressive and math rock acts, amongst many other varying influences.

How did you settle on your band name, “Juno and the Wolf”?

We came up with our band name at a gig, but the process took around 7 months. We filtered through various names until we came up with one which reflected the duality of our music. Representing the softer side, we named it after Sam’s cat, “Juno”. She was always loitering around during band practice, so we thought it was fitting. On the other hand, our music carries an aggressive tone, represented in the “Wolf”. Once merged, “Juno and the Wolf” presents an idyllic image – the balance between soft and aggressive effects which creates our sound.

How would you describe your music to other people? What genre would you consider it to be?

Our music changes and adapts to the music that we’re currently listening to, be it jazz, progressive rock, classical music or grunge. Every member of the band has their own musical background and we improvise to create a backbone for our music. It’s mainly about the culmination of emotion and sound, not about any specific genres.

Do you think your music has evolved in any way since you began playing together?

In the past, the technicality of the creation of music was something which we didn’t really take seriously. But now we feel the importance of creativity. Our music evolved a lot and as we progressed, we realised the importance of balancing creativity, simplicity and technique. There needs to be a balance between the more ‘primitive’ essence of music, and the technical aspect.

Have you faced any major challenges as a band? If so, how did you overcome them?

Corey: Since I moved to Budapest for my studies, the framework and communication of the band were tested. But we still make it work by communicating on a regular basis.

James:  We have encountered challenges every band faces such as lack of seriousness from tertiary people, technical problems and so on. However, we have always focused our energies on what matters and I believe that we always made the right decisions at the right time.

What are your goals for the band?

Our short-term goals involve creating more songs and doing more gigs. Eventually, we want to record our music and perform abroad on a larger scale.

See Juno and the Wolf live on Friday 16th August at Coach and Horses @ 9pm!

Posted in Music