Why You Should Be Watching...Speed Runs

Sonic The Hedgehog Speed Run

I'm a fan of video games. Having said that, I wouldn't say I dedicate any discernible amount of time towards playing them. They're a way of getting out of my head, a distraction from whatever silly problems I may have running through my brain box that day.

That's not to say I haven't got caught up in a few titles in the past. I'm a fan of the Fallout franchise, and as a kid was a bit obsessive over a few of the Final Fantasy titles (7,8 and 9). Barring those, I'm very much a casual gamer, at the very most, the step up from that... a smart-casual gamer perhaps?

Despite my laissez faire attitude towards games, a few days ago I found myself watching play throughs of old titles. It's a bit of a thing on Youtube. Personalities such as PewDiePie have made big money by playing and uploading footage of themselves playing games.

That's all very well and good, and if you can get away with playing games for a living, I say go for it.

However, it wasn't these standard (or "Let's Play" videos) that grabbed my attention. No, the videos I was fascinated by, were specifically categorised as "Speed Runs".

This type of video features a gamer sitting down and attempting to finish a title in the fastest time possible. Forget the plot, the characters, in some cases even the core mechanics. The name of the game is speed.

It really is something to behold. The people doing this have dedicated an enormous amount of time and energy into playing and perfecting these games, with the hope of manipulating every frame of a games being, so that it is optimised for speed.

Expect lots of shortcuts, glitches and game breaking hacks. Of course, sometimes it's just a case of knowing the game back to front (check out the THPS run through below).

It's hypnotising. And it's not just a couple of people doing it. A group called "Games Done Quick" recently held a Summer charity event and raised over $1.3 million for Doctors Without Borders!

By now you've either decided I've gone mad and disappeared, or you're thinking, "go on then, show us what's so bloody good about these videos."

As you wish.

Below are a few videos I've watched which made me think "oh snap". Check em out, and if you want to see more, pop over to the Games Done Quick Youtube channel where there are literally hundreds of videos.


Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 (Start at 1:50)

Pokemon Yellow (Start at 1:27)

Super Mario Bros (Start at 3:11)

PAWS: No Grace - Album Review

PAWS No Grace Album Art

There's not a lot you can do in 26 minutes. A quick Google search prior to this write up reveals you could take a NASA power nap (what separates this from your regular power nap we'll never know), or if you're the Indian Space Research Organisation, you could launch 20 satellites into space at one time.

Annoyingly, that is actually quite impressive. I doff my cap to you India.

The point I'm trying to make (very poorly) is, you won't be able to spend 26 minutes much better than giving the new PAWS record No Grace a spin. It's a short, sharp burst of punk energy in which every second counts.

The bands third record, it not only adds a noticeable sheen of studio gloss to proceedings (helped in no short part by producer Mark Hoppus) but manages to keep the fire and ferocity in the delivery which made their first two releases such essential listens.

 The guitars are as fuzz filled as ever and the drumming has been given an injection of pace, with almost every track played at break neck speed. The choruses aren't bad either, there are pop hooks anthemic sing along opportunities and more than enough pure rock out moments to keep the old faithful satisfied.

Stand out tracks are the poppy Gone So Long, the rousing Complete Contempt and the Dinosaur Jr sounding N/A. But again, at 26 minutes just listen to the entire thing.

It really is refreshing to see a band hammer out a selection of songs that are at such a high standard. There are no misses, no moments that don't hold your attention. It's all killer and no filler, and yes, that is a faded Sum 41 expression. Deal with it.

All in all, if you're a fan of straight up rock n roll, the likes of which there just isn't enough of these days, this is the record for you. It's one of the best of 2016.

Listen to PAWS. You won't regret it.


Benicassim 2016 Friday

We are slap bang in the middle of festival season, and what better way of celebrating that fact than packing up your shit and heading off to sunnier shores for yet more musical goodness. If that sounds like your cup of tea then get yourself over to Benicassim this weekend.

Based around an hour from Valenica in the small town of (who would have guessed) Benicassim, the festival otherwise known as FIB mixes the best parts of the festival experience and a beach holiday all into one.

This years line up is pretty outstanding, with British heavyweights mixing it up alongside the US and Europe's best.

Benicassim 2016 Saturday

The headliners are fierce; Muse, Kendrick Lamar and The Chemical Brothers top the bill with one of the best bands touring right now Biffy Clyro also appearing, ready to steal the show with new album Ellipsis in tow.

Of course I'm jumping ahead slightly. Thursday boasts not only the king of Grime Skepta, but one of the biggest DJ acts around Major Lazer, proving this truly is a four day music bonanza. Add Mr Oizo and Soulwax to proceedings, and you've got four acts that could go head to head with any four on the festival circuit right now.

Move on to Friday and you've got house music icon Jamie XX, indie rockers The Vaccines and the up and coming Rat Boy. Of course the main event is Biffy Clyro followed by The Chemical Brothers. Both acts can put on a hell of a show.

Benicassim 2016 Sunday

Saturday continues the rock onslaught with the biggest band in the world Muse headlining. Their seventh album Drones was a return to the hard rock stylings of earlier efforts, whilst also maintaining the grandiose sound they've perfected across their career. It's going to be an explosive show.

Disclosure and Bloc Party are in charge of warming up the crowd (as if that's necessary in this heat).

Festivities end on the Sunday with the amazing Kendrick Lamar. His performance could very well be the stand out moment of this years event, his socially conscious raps and infectious beats have rocketed him to the top of critics and fan lists alike.

Four days of music, eight days of camping. If you need a holiday and love music, this might just be the ideal destination. For more information on the lineup and information on tickets visit www.fiberfib.com.
Let's talk about...Euro 2016

Euro 2016 Logo
You may have noticed over the past few weeks, that this blog has virtually stood untouched. No new articles, no new interviews, no nothing! There is a very simple explanation as to why this has happened...Euro 2016.

Otherwise known as the European football championships, this tournament has effectively taken over my life. It's becoming a problem. Social gatherings are to be planned around matches, conversations are almost exclusively football based, and the amount of new music I've been listening to has decreased significantly.

Instead of sitting down with the most hyped album of the week, I'll flick on a group match between Albania and Switzerland. It doesn't even matter if it's likely to be a boring game, it's going to be watched.

This obsession isn't helped by the fact Wales are doing incredibly well. I'm half Welsh and had the pleasure of travelling to Toulouse to watch Russia Vs Wales a few weeks back. We won 3-0 and it was glorious.

Wales find themselves in the semi-finals, injecting some much needed happiness to what can only be described as a bit of downer of a year so far (come on 2016, I think you've had your fill of dead celebrities now).

The whole thing comes to an end Sunday July 10, so normal service will resume then. For now however, I can only do my best to try and produce some more articles in between all of the football. No promises though, I'm well and truly addicted.

At this point I'm not even sure a pirates ransom would get me writing faster.

Now, if you'll excuse me I'll pass you over to Rhys Ifans for an amazing inspirational speech before getting back to all the football.

Cymru am byth!

letlive.: If I'm The Devil... - Review

letlive if im the devil...album art

LA punk heroes letlive. are a band agitated with the status quo. If you weren't aware of that before sticking on third album If I'm The Devil... you will be afterwards. 

A frustration at the severe and consistent abuses from those in positions of authority, coupled with an acknowledgment and acceptance of personal fallibles is the overarching theme of an album which takes an exciting leap forward both sonically and stylistically.

Famous for the energy in both their break neck live shows and studio recordings, If I'm The Devil... channels this hostile element in a more concise, focused manner. 

There are fewer screams and breakdowns than their last outing The Blackest Beautiful, replaced instead with a greater emphasis on melody, with frontman Jason Aalon Butler delivering his most impressive vocal performance to date. 

After all, a powerful performance doesn't just mean blowing out your vocal chords delivering a chilling death growl.

Tracks Good Mourning, America and Another Offensive Song deliver the most literal lyrical message to those between the cross hairs of their unrest. The first, a stand out song on the album, features a female choir, a blistering chorus and the most cutting lyrics on the album...

"We’ve got the right to take your life, so do just what you’re told”

There is enough raucous punk energy to keep the old fans more than satisfied here, but the album is at it's most exciting when it pushes the bands previous boundaries to the limit. Foreign Cab Rides, is a straight up stadium sized love song with a hook that will get trapped in your head for weeks to come.

And that's not the only love song either, Who You Are Not casually drops by with another show stopping chorus as if to emphasise that, yes, we can do this and do it well.

If I'm The Devil... puts its cards on the table from the get go, embraces the unique traits that have made this band what they are today and brings each one to the forefront to marvellous effect.

Delivering a powerful message whilst sounding better than ever. letlive. are agitated, and you know what, it suits them.

On Repeat: June 2016

letlive. good mourning america 2016

Technically, it's not June yet. So, this entire blog is something of a lie. What a farcical start to proceedings.

Moving swiftly on, here's a selection of tracks that have been stuck on repeat this month. As always, some are old, some are new, but every single one is a banger. Disagree? Leave a comment or tweet me, let's have a debate about music. Why not, right?

letlive. - Good Mourning, America

LA hardcore heroes letlive. are gearing up for the release of their new album If I'm The Devil expected sometime this Summer. A sneak preview has been released by the boys in the form of Good Mourning, America, featuring a not so subtle comment on America's problem with police brutality it has all the hallmarks of the bands previous sound, if not with an added soul edge.

While we're on letlive., let's all listen to another massive tune by the boys, Banshee (Ghost Fame).

Skepta - Man (Live at Big Weekend 16)

The top name in grime Skepta, brought his new album Konnichiwa to Radio 1's Big Weekend. His track Man is not only one of his best lyrically, but features a sample from Queens of the Stone Age track Regular John. What's not to like?

My Chemical Romance - Vampire Money

I found myself listening to My Chemical Romance the other day, and you know what? I really enjoyed it. More associated with teenage girls with too much eye make up, MCR have a barrowload of tunes in the bank, Vampire Money being one of my particular favourites. Give the boys another listen, it's good trust me!

Kill The Noise & Madsonik - Spitfire Riddim (feat. twowon) [Boombox Cartel Remix]

One of the most ridiculous pieces of music I've heard in a long time. There really are no words...stick it on and hear for yourself. \m/

Coldplay - Fix You (Four Tet Remix)

Quite possibly one of the greatest remixes ever made. This hypnotising lullaby of a reworking was created by producer Four Tet and was unreleased for ten years before being unearthed on Jon Hopkins radio show last year. Now it's out in the world and everything is better for it.

The Clash - Clampdown

If you don't like The Clash we can't be friends.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes Reveal Documentary Year Of The Snake

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes Year of the Snake

I love a good band documentary, especially if that band is one of the most exciting in the UK. Frank Carter has a good track history with these sort of things, back in his days with Gallows, Relentless released an "Lives of the Artists" piece about the bands experiences in the US on the Warped Tour. It was intense viewing, and at times a tad bleak...

This time things are a lot more positive, "Year of the Snake" covers the creation and rise of the band Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. From the first ever show at the London tattoo studio Sang Bleu, all the way through to their most recent tour, the video features both live footage and an exclusive interview with Frank. It’s a great insight into one of the UK’s most exciting frontmen and also how chaotic and riotous the band’s shows can be.

Frank himself has had a few words to say about the documentary...

“Year of the snake is a short documentary following the rise and rise of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. It's been an intense year for us and we were lucky enough to have Max Horn document it all in a very intimate way. From the very beginning show at Sang Bleu tattoo, right up to this January when we went into the studio to start making something very special indeed. Thank you all for an amazing year, here's to the rest of them.”

The documentary ends with a hammer on filled riff and footage of Frank back in the studio. It's a tantalising teaser for the future and a strong indication that this band has a lot more to say in 2016.

You can watch the documentary below, it's worth it trust me.