LISTEN UP: Amber Run

Amber Run

19039153581_8401391d47_oI was stalking people on Instagram a few weeks ago (oh, please–you do it too, haha) when I stumbled across a few videos of a new-ish band called Amber Run, who formed in Nottingham, UK, back in 2012. After getting lost in their EPs on Spotify, I soon discovered that this is the kind of band that you can easily listen to on repeat for hours. (Photo by Paul Hudson.)

If you listen to Bastille, you’ll adore Amber Run…because they sound pretty similar. Like Bastille, each of Amber Run’s songs seems to tell a story. And whether the song is about falling in love, partying in the middle of the day, or wondering what the meaning of life is, each song drew me in as the band members’ amazing harmonies (seriously, they’re incredible) and killer guitar solos filled my headphones. (Photos below by MangakaMaiden Photography.)

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Amber Run is made up of Felix, Will, Joe, Tom & Henry, who, while all studying at University of Nottingham, decided to form a band. (Good choice, boys.) Since then, they’ve toured with some big names in music like Kodaline and Lewis Watson, released 3 EPs (Spark, Pilot & Noah), toured the U.K. a bit, and finished recording their debut album, which will be available on April 27th of this year. (Photo below by Paul Hudson.)

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Something I really love about this band: their diverse song style. Amber Run can go from singing a slow, sleepy and mysterious lullaby, to an upbeat, energetic, makes-you-want-to-sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs tune. My favorites they’ve released are Heaven, Thank You, Just My Soul Responding (the most Bastille-esque one) & I Found. I’ll admit it: I’ve definitely blasted a few of these in my kitchen when I was home alone, and sang every word at the top of my lungs.

Check out my all time favorite song of theirs below: Heaven. Something about the ending of this song gives me chills. Their harmonies are perfect, and it’s as if they are singing straight into your ears.

I’d love to see Amber Run live one day. (If you’re reading this guys, do a huge tour in America!) I’ve been browsing through some videos of their live performances on YouTube, and their energy on stage is awesome.

If you live in the U.K., Amber Run may be coming to an area near you. Check out their tour schedule below, and go for me! (And make sure you tweet me the entire experience start to finish.)

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Amber Run’s social media:

YouTube

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Artists Unplugged

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I spend a lot of time browsing YouTube…especially for music. One of my favorite pastimes is finding videos of my favorite singers/ bands covering acoustic versions of their songs. Sometimes, the acoustic version is even better than their studio version. That’s when you know you’ve discovered an artist with true talent! For this post, I compiled a few videos of my favorite artists and their unplugged performances. Check them out below, and tweet me: what songs sound better acoustically? (Photo by Ian Sane)

Taking Over Me –Lawson

Closed Hands Full Of Friends — Foy Vance

Lay Me Down — Sam Smith

Small Bump — Ed Sheeran

Noel Gallagher — Don’t Look Back In Anger

Cherry Wine — Hozier

An Interview With War Kites

WKWar Kites

Jack Rawlins (vocals/bass) Sam Morris (lead guitar) Henry Ainsworth (rhythm guitar) & Connor Di Leo (drums) make up War Kites, an alternative/indie band who formed in Birmingham, U.K., in 2013. They recently released their debut album, “Skinny Dipping In The Koi Pond.” You can check out the album and the rest of their music here, on their SoundCloud.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with these four talented guys from across the Pond over email, and I asked them about their new album, their musical inspirations & the thought process behind a few of their songs.

 A Perfect Playlist: How did the band get started?

WK 2jWar Kites: (Sam): Jack and I knew each other from previous bands, and I knew Connor and Henry from school (they were a couple of years below me). When Jack’s and my band broke up I was like “we have to get this drummer Connor I know, he’s insane!” and Jack suggested this guitarist he knew (Henry) who liked experimenting into different genres, which kind of made it all fall into place.

APP: How would you describe your sound?

WK: (Connor) Well… It’s a mess really. The album I mean. There’s no real logic or consistency, but we like that. We just played what we thought was right and recorded it. We sound different at every show; I’d like to think we’re unique… Listen to the album! It explains a lot haha.

WK: (Henry) I’d agree and say it differs hugely from track to track. My favourite sound, by that I mean the sound that I aim for most, is found in the middle of the album, on the Skinny Dipping tracks; a sort of airy, heavily reverberating, clean guitar. I like the indistinctness of the instrumentation, like shoegaze records of the nineties.

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APP: How did you think of the name War Kites for the band?

WK: (Sam) It’s a funny one, because bands always have really cool stories about how they came by their name, but it really did take us ages to come to it! We tried out a few names before we came to ‘War Kites’ and then one morning Jack just came out with it and we all loved it!

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APP: How do you become inspired to write a song?

WK: (Connor) Believe it or not, as a drummer, I do in fact contribute to the song-writing process. I am often given an idea or stimulus by another member and I attach it to a vibe. I work best when trying to create a landscape or story. Like painting a picture I guess. I’m not great at making up a riff or melodies but I do love my chord progressions!

WK: (Jack) When I listen to a classic song or an album. Not specifically from the same genre. But one that hits me or connects with me in some way. I pick up my guitar and create a riff for a start and build from that. Lyrics come out of nowhere I suppose. My literature studies definitely help, but apart from that it’s all up in the air.

APP: Who were some of your musical inspirations as a kid, and who are they now?

WK: (Sam): I was hugely into the alternative rock/emo movement, like seriously. Fall Out Boy were a huge inspiration to me early on, but nowadays I’ve fallen more into more of a desert rock persona; I love Queens of the Stone Age.

(Henry): My dad’s music always had a huge impact on me growing up, and so I’ve always liked ‘old’ bands, for lack of a better word; the likes of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen etc. To some degree this has stayed the same, and I’ve explored far more in this area; David Bowie is an idol to me. I’ve also of course found my own niche genres that I love. I’ve moved away from rock music a lot lately, into quieter electronic and acoustic genres alike. Lo-fi folk such as The Microphones, Mountain Goats and Neutral Milk Hotel heavily influence the way I play with sounds, with far less emphasis on polishing. On the other end of the spectrum, I’m also a huge fan of heavily produced dream-pop indie bands like The Antlers and Beach House, which inspire me with atmospheric backdrops to beautiful songs. I could go on forever, basically, I like a lot of music.

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(Jack): I started off pretty obvious. The Beatles were always a favourite from growing up and my parents playing a compilation. Classic rock always gripped me to an extent, but also metal and fast paced music. Now I’m into extremely chilled music, really avant-garde stuff. I still appreciate a great songwriter though; I’m going through a Neil Young phase at the minute.

war kitesAPP: Describe your new album, “Skinny Dipping in the Koi Pond,” in one word?

WK: (Henry) Ever-changing.

APP: What is one successful song you’ve heard that you wish you would’ve written?

WK: (Sam) ‘Jose Gonzales – Heartbeats’ is just a beautiful song, for me it would definitely be that one.

(Jack): ‘Africa’ by Toto.

(Connor): ‘Happy Birthday’.

APP: My favorite songs by you guys are “I Found No One,” & “Jeff Bridges.” Where did the inspiration for those songs come from?

WK: (Sam) ‘I Found No One’ was a funny one, we’d finished the album and Jack and I were just playing around with some chords that we really liked. It didn’t really fit in with the rest of the album, but we liked it far too much to let it go, so we just recorded it right there, in one take, and left it on the end of the album as a nice conclusion.

(Jack): ‘Jeff Bridges’ was a chilled homage to the eponymous actor, who inspired most of the band in the film ‘The Big Lebowski’ and other films. The song is about trying anything to be noticed, and making the most out of youth to the point of running away from pressure and subjection.

APP: Have you guys done any recording/any shows in America?

WK: (Connor) Not yet. YET.

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APP: Anything else you want to say to readers of A Perfect Playlist?

WK: (Connor) Blogs like this is what this industry should be all about. Keep them alive, read, share and follow them! Also, keep listening to music; everything and anything.

(Henry): Exactly. Don’t get hammered into a single genre or style of music. There’s so much stuff out there, and anything written sincerely by somebody who means it is worth listening to, it’s a rare opportunity to look inside someone’s head, and even if you don’t know them I think that’s fascinating. Some of the best music is written by the people whose only training is a few guitar chord tutorials online and ten years’ experience as a lumberjack, even if they can’t sing for shit.

(Jack): Love each other and keep on rockin’ in the free world.

This is the first time I’ve interviewed a band for my blog, so it was really exciting to be able to talk with War Kites & put this post together. Thanks so much to Sam, Jack, Connor & Henry!

Wanna see/hear more of War Kites? Click below for their social media!

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5 Indie Bands You Should Be Listening To

Check out these 5 indie bands I’m currently loving!

1. Bastille

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Dan Smith, the leader singer of this band, named this group after Bastille Day, which is celebrated on his birthday. The band formed in 2010 in London, and has released two studio albums: “Bad Blood,” and an extended version of the first album, “All This Bad Blood,” along with numerous remix CD’s and EP’s. You’ve probably heard Bastille’s most popular single, “Pompeii.” (The video is super cool, too!)

If you listen to Imagine Dragons, Of Monsters and Men, or Walk The Moon, you’re guaranteed to love Bastille. I can’t wait to see them live in November. My favorite song by them right now is “Get Home.” Browse their YouTube Channel here!

2. Bombay Bicycle Club

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With two EP’s and four studio albums, Bombay Bicycle Club is gaining a loyal fanbase. If you listen to Foster The People or Little Comets (who I will be covering on my blog very soon!) you should check out this group. They were featured in the soundtrack for Twilight’s Eclipse. Check out the song, “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep,” here.

I’m currently loving their song “Luna,” which you can listen to here.

3. The 1975

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(Photo by Carissa Thrush)

Matty Healy, Adam Hann, George Daniel and Ross MacDonald form The 1975, one of the most talented, and addicting bands of all time. Lately, I can’t seem to stop listening to them! I saw them live last year, and since then, I have been a loyal fan. I almost met Matty at one point–he walked right past me, but I was too chicken to stop and ask him for a picture. Next time!

This group has toured all over the world, and even played Coachella this year. The band currently has only one studio album out, but Matty recently tweeted that new music will be coming from the group on October 30th. (Not sure if that means new album or not, but definitely a new song or two!)

Do you listen to The Neighborhood or HAIM? Then check out The 1975 HERE. I love “Robbers,” “Heart Out,” and “Pressure.”

4. Cathedral Pearls

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This super new indie band from Spokane, Washington, released their first EP “Place Of Our Residence” in June 2012, and since then, have released “Off My Chain.” You can check it out HERE! I recently visited Spokane, and someone suggested I listen to this band. I’m really glad I did! I love the live version of their single, “Off My Chain.” Their sound is so refreshing. If you listen to the band London Grammer, you might really enjoy Cathedral Pearls. Take a few minutes browsing their website and find out more about them! Click here.

5. Two Door Cinema Club

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I first discovered this band when their song, “Something Good Can Work,” was featured in the popular YouTube video, “Obama’s Victory Dance,” about two years ago.

Two Door Cinema Club is the kind of band you dance to alone in your room. 😉 Their fun, catchy singles are the perfect cure for a bad day. My favorites by them are “Do You Want It All?” and “This Is The Life.” I’d love to see them live one day!

Love Vampire Weekend or Arctic Monkeys? If so, you NEED to listen to this band! Check out their YouTube channel here, and their newest single here.

Tweet me what you think of these bands!

Nothing Beats The Classics

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I listen to a variety of music–from pop to alternative, from folk to rock. And although I love highlighting up-and-coming bands on my blog, this post will be a little different. Today I’m going to talk about a few classic, timeless bands that I’ve been listening to since I was little.

Oasis

Formed in 1991 in Manchester by brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher, Oasis is a band no one will ever forget. Their legendary songs such as “Wonderwall,” and “Champagne Supernova” are the most famous, but my favorites will always be “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” and “She’s Electric.” I would jump at the chance to ever see this band live, but unfortunately, they broke up around 2009. I remember Oasis being one of the first things I downloaded when I first bought an iPod in middle school. My parents always played their CDs, so I grew up listening to them. (Photo via Tumblr). They truly changed the music world. Influencing bands like The Killers, Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, and Coldplay, their legacy lives on.

My favorite lyric: “Please don’t put your life in the hands of a rock and roll band…who will throw it all away.” ~Don’t Look Back In Anger

The Cranberries

-1Listening to “Linger” by The Cranberries brings me right back to 6th grade when I listened to them all the time. I still love this song–I could listen to it on repeat all day. It’s so calming!

This Irish rock band formed in Limerick in 1990, and is still active today! According to Wikipedia, “The group was one of the most successful rock acts of the ’90s and sold over 40 million albums worldwide.” Check out the amazing live version of their song you might know, “Dreams.” (Photo via Concrete Playground)

My old cassette tape of a few of The Cranberries’ songs.

Favorite Lyric: “If you, if you could return, don’t let it burn, don’t let it fade.” ~Linger

Train

Still widely popular today, Train formed in 1994 and released their very first self-entitled album Train in 1998, which you can check out here! It went triple platinum in the U.S. & Canada, and still stands as the band’s best-selling album. (Photo via Rizzo Music)

A few of my favorite songs by Train are “Calling All Angles,” “Drops Of Jupiter,” and “Meet Virginia.”  I love Train’s rock, pop style–none of their songs is exactly the same as the other.

Favorite Lyric: “Since the return from her stay on the moon, she listens like spring and she talks like June..” ~Drops Of Jupiter

Vertical Horizon

Vertical Horizon formed in 1991, and was my first ever favorite alternative-rock band. The first song I loved by them (which is still my favorite) is “Everything You Want.” (The music video is pretty cool, too!)  Another song I love is their chilling single, “Underwater,” which I’ve been listening to a lot lately. (Photo via ear.fm)tapes

Vertical Horizon is one of those bands that has such a unique sound, but doesn’t get enough credit for how talented they truly are! See for yourself how great they are & listen to the live version of their song, “Send It Up,” here.

Like what you hear? Listen to their latest album, “Echoes From Underground,” here!

Songs are precious time capsules! Tweet me: what song brings YOU back?

HOW TO: Meet Your Favorite Bands & Singers (Part 2)

imageMeeting my favorite band, The Wanted, in April

Fake it ‘till you make it. Meeting your favorite band/singer can be a once in a lifetime opportunity. When you meet them, breathe. They’re just people. (That mean a lot to you!) Fake being outgoing if you’re a little shy—smile, ask them questions, (ex: How do you like my city? What did you do today? Etc.) and most importantly: be assertive (but not rude). If you want a selfie, ask for one. If you want a hug, ask for one. Thank them for taking time to meet you, and be happy—because you just met your favorite artist!

When taking a picture with your fave: Although this can be nerve-racking, try to stay calm. Smile, and make sure you take a minute to put your arm around your fave for the picture. Meet & greet pictures where the artist and fan are just standing next to each other are awkward, so you want to avoid that. Not sure what kind of meet and greet picture you want? A normal one of you smiling with the band is always great, but if you’re looking to get creative with your picture, check out the two pictures below for ideas!

heffron driveWhen fans Miranda & Katy met Heffron Drive, they hugged each of the guys in the picture. Too cute!

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Raleigh went for a fun, silly picture when she met American Authors. If you’re brave enough to ask for a picture like this, it is definitely one you will treasure forever!

If things don’t work out the way you wanted when trying to meet your favorite band or singer:

Don’t give up! Whether you didn’t meet the band, or you did, but you were too star-struck to tell them how much you love them, it’s okay. Stay positive and think about the fact that you actually met them. When I met Ed Sheeran, I barely squeaked out a thank you. I was in shock, haha. Afterwards, I was a bit disappointed I hadn’t said more to him, but I remembered how lucky I was to even meet him, and I felt better. There is always a possibility you will meet the artist again, or if you haven’t met them yet, and you’re determined to, you will. Staying positive is key!

 Don’t forget to read Part 1 of this post if you haven’t already!

Tweet me HERE about your meet and greet experiences! I want to hear all of the crazy stories. I will always tweet you back! 🙂