James Christopher Sheppard divulges the tracks he has on repeat.

 

Korn ‘Get Up’ (featuring Skrillex)

At school in the late 90’s, if you liked metal, Korn were a pretty good starting point. Now, seventeen years since the debut, Korn release their freshest single in years. I first heard ‘Get Up’ on kerrang radio and had to double check who it was. The collaboration with master of dubstep, Skrillex, throws Korn’s aggressive thrashing metal sound into brand new industrial waters. This is the best song Korn have released since 2002’s ‘Here to Stay’. Fucking incredible. Watch the video for ‘Get Up’ below.

 

Melanie C ‘Rock Me’

Rock Spice Melanie C finally returns with the first release from her long-awaited fifth solo album, The Sea. ‘Rock Me’ is vibrant, simple, catchy, up-beat and addictive. With her own very loyal following, and sales of over ten million albums worldwide, sporty spice still has a great deal to offer. Watch the video for ‘Rock Me’ below.

 

Within Temptation ‘Sinead’

New single from Within Temptation’s flawless album The Unforgiving is ‘Sindead’- the beat-heavy, industrial tinged dance/symphonic metal track. Yes, ‘Sinead’ is the most cross-over single Within Temptation have released and it’s gaining all sorts of attention. For the first time ever, the band have had official remixes commissioned from the likes of German hard dance band Scooter. The most surprising thing about the remixes is that they actually work. Check out the ‘VNV Nation Club Mix’ video below.

 

Charlie Simpson ‘Parachute’

Fightstar front man Charlie Simpson, will unleash his debut solo album in August and ‘Parachutes’ is the second single, following the mellow ‘Down Down Down’. ‘Parachutes’ isn’t a million miles from the sound of Fightstar, but is enough of a departure to be only Simpson’s. The song is softer and relies more on acoustic sounds to build song to it’s climax. Vulnerable and powerful at the same time. I am truly impressed by the quality of this.

 

Amy Winehouse ‘Back to Black’

For me, ‘Back to Black’ is the ultimate Amy Winehouse song. Following her tragic passing on Saturday 23rd July, this song seems more painful and sadder than ever. Winehouse was a visibly very troubled soul, who sadly lost her battle with depression and addiction. ‘Back to Black’ will stand testament to what incredible art she created, if only for a short time. You will be forever remembered, Amy.

Leave your thoughts about these tracks below. Feel free to send me links to what you’re listening to or would like to see included next time!

Read the full article at Eyewear

 

 

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Written by James Christopher Sheppard

The editor of blogzine Eyewear, Todd Swift, emailed me today to inform me that my review of the latest Incubus album, If Not Now, When? has become his most read post ever, with over 4,400 views over the past month. The same post has also generated over 1,000 views here on my personal website. So basically I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone for taking the time to read what I write here- knowing so many people are investing their time in reading my pieces fills me with satisfaction and urges me to carry on.

I’d also like to take this moment to add that I am currently seeking any writing opportunities out there. I am eager to published in as many different publications and blogzines as possible. Also, if anyone has any writing/journalistic vacancies in London- or anywhere, and would like to approach me, please contact me at jamessheppard@hotmail.co.uk

Thanks again everyone, please continue to check back, enjoy and comment.


Written by James Christopher Sheppard

Following Amy Winehouse‘s tragic death on Saturday 23rd July 2011, public opinion has been split over the news. While fans and a large proportion of the public are saddened and are mourning the loss of one of the most soulful and successful British stars of certainly this century, others are attacking the star saying she ‘brought it on herself’. Plenty of people are also disgraced with the fact that Winehouse’s death is big news, despite the tragic Norway situation last week.

I would like to take this opportunity to state a few facts. Terrorism, war and shootings and the death of a much-loved celebrity are two completely separate things- one does not reflect the other and people being upset that one of their favourite singers has died does not mean that they aren’t also troubled by the news in Norway. It’s all about perspective.

I haven’t heard a single Amy Winehouse fan publicly rant anywhere that her death is the biggest and most awful thing going on in the world, yet I have read countless arguments from people that did not care for the singer, rant and rant to anyone showing any sign of sadness about her passing that ‘she chose to kill herself’ or telling people to ‘wake up and watch the news about Norway’.

If a friend of yours passed away, no matter what the circumstances, and you said publicly that you missed them, would you expect a reply from some bitter person saying ‘you think that’s bad? Watch the news’? I think not.

Amy Winehouse’s death remains unexplained. Of course, her battle with depression and alcohol and drug addiction was public knowledge and is therefore believed to be the cause. What many people seem to be dismissing, is that depression and addiction are dangerously life-threatening illnesses. No-one choses to be a depressive or have an addictive personality, just as no-one choses to get cancer. We do make choices that may result in addiction and cancer, but we ALL do that, don’t we?

Regardless of how Amy died, she was 27 years old and an incredible talent. Back to Black and Frank will remain classic albums for the rest of our lifetimes, while iconic tracks like Tears Dry on Their Own’, ‘Rehab’, ‘You Know I’m No Good’ and her flawless collaboration with Mark Ronson, ‘Valerie’, will be continue to be played and enjoyed for years and years to come.

Amy Winehouse, you left your mark on this difficult world and will be sadly missed by many- and not forgotten by any.


Reviewed by James Christopher Sheppard

Having just completed her massive ‘Aphrodite- Les Folies World Tour’, Kylie Minogue is releasing a stunning boxset of all five of her studio albums released since her career-changing monster hit ‘Spinning Around’ in 2000. Better than any Greatest Hits from the past ten years could be, this literally includes every track released by Minogue since signing with Parlophone in 1999.

Light Years

Including her first Top Ten hit since 1994’s ‘Confide in Me’, Light Years catapulted Minogue back to the forefront of pop. Following almost eight years of musical experimentation and collaborations with Nick Cave and Manic Street Preachers, Minogue put her shiny stilettos and hot pants back on and produced the most unashamedly camp disco album of her entire career. ‘Spinning Around’ hit number 1 in the UK and Australia and similar success followed for singles ‘On a Night Like This’, ‘Kids’ with Robbie Williams and ‘Please Stay’. The album also features live favourite ‘Light Years’, and possibly the campest song ever recorded, ‘Your Disco Needs You’.

Fever

‘La la la, la la la la la…’ Fever was released in 2001 and saw Minogue not only top the charts in five countries and go multi-platinum, but also had top five success in the USA. The classic single ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ now has iconic status and remains one of the biggest selling singles in the world over the past decade. ‘Come Into My World’ won a Grammy and ‘In Your Eyes’ and ‘Love at First Sight’ were also phenomenally huge successes. Following Fever, Kylie was considered an international superstar. Other stand out tracks from the album include ‘Love Affair’, ‘Burning Up’, ‘Fragile’, ‘More More More’, ‘Give it to Me’ and… basically the entire album is flawless electro pop.

Body Language

Never one to unleash the expected, Kylie’s Body Language stunned many, as it did not follow in Fever’s footsteps, or any other record’s footsteps really. The overall sound of the album is the most urban that Kylie has ever sounded, featuring a more American R&B sound than the electro pop people had come to expect from Minogue. While the album scored Minogue her seventh UK #1 with the understated electronic hit ‘Slow’, the rest of the album had a sound of being directed towards an American audience. As a result, the album underperformed in most territories as it just didn’t quite sound like authentic Kylie. Saying that, ‘Red Blooded Women’ and ‘Loving Days’ are treasures that would doubtfully exist without the rest of the album.

X

Mid ‘Showgirl Tour’ in 2005, Kylie was forced to dramatically cancel the remainder of the tour following her cancer diagnosis. For over a year, the world waited to hear of Kylie’s recovery, and finally rejoiced in late 2006 when she hit the road to complete the tour. Four years after the release of Body Language came X, with first single, ‘2 Hearts’ hitting #4 in the UK and #1 in Australia. X is packed full of electro club tracks, like ‘Like a Drug’, ‘In My Arms’, ‘The One’, ‘Wow’ and ‘Speakerphone’. While some criticized the comeback album as lacking the heartache that could have been expected from a post-illness album, the collection was a success and hugely popular with fans as it demonstrates what Kylie does best- electro dance pop.

Read more at Eyewear


It’s a another mediocre Monday evening in July, you’ve just finished your seventh work day in a row and you say ‘let’s go to the cinema’ for something to do. You’ve already seen all the big ones filling however many screens nationwide- Transformers, The Green Lantern, Bridesmaids and Bad Teacher, so you check out Larry Crowne– the new Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts comedy/drama flick that looks fairly charming from the trailer, but nothing spectacular. In fact, that assumption isn’t too far from the truth, but the film may have just the right amount of charm to keep your mind far away from your own reality.

Tom Hanks, who also directed the movie, plays Crowne who has served twenty years in the Navy and moved on to a career in retail management. He’s a sweet guy and performs his job with care and commitment, but is let go due to his lack of college background. The movie goes on to tell the story of Crowne’s journey from unsuspecting victim, to informed and freshly educated college graduate, with a whole new lust for life, and particularly his college professor- Miss Tainot, played by Julia Roberts.

This is not a harsh drama or an outrageous comedy, but it’s subtlety is where it succeeds in being a plausible and enjoyable movie for those of us that don’t find what I call ‘stupid comdies’ funny. By stupid comedy, I mean Scary Movie or even Bad Teacher. Larry Crowne is smart and endearing, with very relatable and honest performances from both Roberts and Hanks, as well as accomplished appearances from a host of other characters, including The L Word‘s Pam Grier. The movie serves as a solid reminder that our lives are what we make them. Fans of Sandra Bullock‘s 28 Days will love this movie. With so many massive budget movies out there at the moment not quite cutting it, like The Green Lantern, it’s refreshing to see a decent movie that requires no more than a stellar script and a strong cast. Larry Crowne is definitely the strongest movie at UK cinemas right now, until Friday anyway, when a movie about a certain wizard will be upon us.

8/10


James Christopher Sheppard
on his Top Ten musical highlights of 2011

As we hit the mid-point of the year 2011, James Christopher Sheppard takes a look back and charts his top ten musical highlights of the year so far. With stellar performances, standout single releases and albums that will be listened to for years to come, here’s how James’ top ten shapes up, in descending order, starting with the tenth best highlight.

10

P!nk ‘Fuckin’ Perfect’

New Mum, P!nk, released the second single from her Greatest Hits… So Far!!! album in March, to much critical acclaim. The video portrays a girl with self-confidence issues, who dabbles in self-harm, but ultimately grows into a beautiful women and mother. As corny as it sounds, it really is a moving song and video and incredibly apt for P!nk at this time in her life. I can not wait for the follow-up to the incredible Funhouse album.

 

 

 

9

Britney Spears ‘Hold it Against Me’

Britney smashed back onto the scene after a short break at the beginning of the year with the dub-step tinged monster hit ‘Hold it Against Me’. The song is a new direction for Britney, and while the album Femme Fatale may not live up to the standard set here, ‘Hold it Against Me’ is one of the best Britney singles ever.

 

 

 

 

 

8

Lady GaGa ‘The Edge of Glory’ performance at Radio One’s Big Weekend.

Lady Gaga had run into all sorts of critical indifference at the beginning of the year as the response to the first two singles from her album Born This Way were not met with the same ecstatic reception in the UK that she was used to. While ‘Born This Way’ slowly built on people and sold steadily, it still was the least original single she had put out, and ‘Judas’ didn’t do a great deal to help matters. Cut to May and Gaga headlined Radio One’s Big Weekend in Carlisle and performed a piano only version of third single ‘The Edge of Glory’. With no gimmicks, no crazy outfit or political message, ‘The Edge of Glory’ proved Lady Gaga’s musical talent was still as evident as ever and stands as one of her most emotional and powerful performances to date.

 

7

Blondie Panic of Girls

Returning with their ninth studio album, Blondie proved on their stunning new album that they are still a force to be reckoned with. The band sound younger and fresher than they have done in years, with Panic of Girls being innovative and full of energy. Stand out tracks include ‘Mother’, ‘What I Heard’, ‘Girlie Girlie’ and ‘Wipe off my Sweat’. Get the limited edition collector’s pack if you haven’t already, featuring an exclusive magazine, prints, a poster and bonus tracks.

 

 

 

6

Lower Than Atlantis World Record

The second full-length album from melodic hardcore band, Lower Than Atlantis, arrived in April and saw Mike Duce and his band-mates establish themselves as one of the leading alternative rock bands in the UK, getting air-play from Radio One and Kerrang, amongst others. World Record managed to outshine their outstanding debut, Far Q, with killer tracks like ‘Beech Like a Tree’, ‘(Motor) Way of Life’, ‘Another Sad Song’ and ‘Deadliest Catch’. World Record is only the beginning for these guys, which makes them so exciting to watch. Definitely a band and an album to check out if you haven’t already.

 

 

5

Adele 21 and that Brit Awards Performance

You must have been in a coma for the past six months if you’ve failed to notice to phenomenal success of English singer/songwriter Adele’s second album, 21. The album is now established as the longest running UK number one album since Saturday Night Fever in 1978, that’s sixteen weeks so far, and as it stands 21 is still #2. First single, ‘Rolling In The Deep’, was a huge success pretty much everywhere, and has just spent its seventh week at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, while ‘Someone Like You’ rocketed to number one in the UK following the heart-wrenching acoustic performance at the Brit Awards in February. There’s even more to 21 that the massive hits however, with gems such as ‘Turning Tables’, a cover of The Cure’s ‘Lovesong’ and ‘Set Fire To The Rain’. 21 is a record-shattering album, with over seven million sales since its release in January, and its obvious why- just seriously good music.

 

4

Incubus If Not Now, When?

Following a five year gap since their last studio album, Incubus finally ventured back into the limelight over the past few months to announce the forthcoming release of their seventh studio album. If Not Now, When? is delicate and mellow, yet mesmerising and powerful, with new Incubus classics such as ‘Adolescents’, ‘Isadore’, ‘ Defiance’ and ‘In the Company of Wolves’ to add to our already lengthy Incubus playlists.

 

 

 

Complete the Top Ten and see the final top three highlights, including Kylie Minogue, Patrick Wolf and Within Temptation, at Eyewear.

 


I’m going to the Wireless festival in Hyde Park on Sunday so thought I’d best get listening to some of the bands I am less familiar with that are playing so I don’t miss out on anything. One of the bands I am surprised at how decent their music is, is The Pretty Reckless. Pretty certainly being an appropriate name, as their lead singer, Taylor Momsen, is an actress and model; you may know her from Gossip Girl. 

Having never seen an episode of Gossip Girl and having never heard of Taylor, I am judging what I am hearing purely on that- what I am hearing. Yeah, their music is nothing new- it’s melodic rock music with a female singer, but it’s done very well indeed, and there isn’t a lot of new artists emerging lately doing it as well as they are. Through checking out some forums and last.fm I wasn’t surprised to see the lack of respect the band has, from learning who Taylor is, and it seems to be because she is hot. If she was singing electronic music and trying to be Ke$ha, surely that would go in her favour? How often have you heard people complain that Lady Gaga isn’t attractive or has a dick (not my opinion, I might add)? If she was a rock star, you can bet no-one would say a word. No-one ever moans about the attractiveness of Courtney Love or Alanis Morissette– and they aren’t models. It seems then, that pop seems reserved only for the beautiful and rock only for the un-model-worthy folk. What a crock of shit. Why can’t people just judge what they hear and not what they see or use what the singer did before against them? Fightstar are a brilliant example of how fucking awesome a band can be when their lead singer began in the poppiest of bands. Yes, Charlie Simpson was of course, in Busted.

Judge The Pretty Reckless for yourselves, here is the video for ‘Miss Nothing’