Friday, 16 May 2014

Single Review: 'I Will Never Let You Down' by Rita Ora

In the lead up to summer we all want inspiration to go and get that summer body and make sure we’re ready for that one day of sunshine in Britain and Rita Ora delivers with this track.

Perfect for either lounging round in the sun or dancing with your friends; this summery hit is incredibly catchy with phrases like ‘when you say you’ve had enough / and you might just give it up / oh, oh’ it’s hard not to sing along even after you’ve heard it once. Following Rita’s huge success with ‘How We Do (Party)’ in 2012 ‘I Will Never Let You Down’ gives us the same kind of preppy vibe.

The main point of the song is defiantly a positive message about loyalty but with a pop beat, created by Calvin Harris, behind it. The perfect pairing was defiantly made for this song, Calvin Harris and Rita Ora create a possible big hit for summer and for clubs.

Words by Leonora Meaney

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Know Your Shit : UKIP and the EU

It’s coming. It’s bloody coming. That fateful Thursday the 22nd which sees you get up in the morning, wetting the bed in crippling excitement, armed like a political shotgun when you’ve picked up the clumsy black crayon, tears forming as you know you’re changing the very fabric of British political history! Can you feel that raw passion of democracy-fever? Can you?!?
You probably don’t, and frankly, I don’t blame you. Europe is about as sexy as Andrew Marr in lingerie: Most of us don’t want to know about it, and the minority that do only  want to know all the ins and outs in order to tell everyone what’s good and bad about it. 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

We've Been Procrastinating With: Orange is the New Black

‘Orange is the New Black’ is a Netflix original comedy-drama series first released in July 2013 and based on Piper Kerman’s memoir ‘Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison’. It focuses on the main character, the upper-middle class New Yorker Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling), and her time in a women’s prison for transporting money from smuggled drugs 10 years earlier. The series has recently received an award for Outstanding Comedy Series at the 2014 GLAAD Media Awards and the brilliance of the cast was also recognised at the 2014 Satellite Awards.

Alongside Taylor Schilling, ‘Orange is the New Black’ also stars Jason Biggs as Piper’s fiancé, Larry, and Natasha Lyonne (both from the ‘American Pie’ series) and Laura Prepon (‘That ‘70s Show’) as Piper’s ex-girlfriend, Alex, who is serving time in the same prison for drug-smuggling.

What really stands out in ‘Orange is the New Black’ is the mixture of personalities amongst the characters. Each episode has a main storyline focussing on Piper’s attempts to adjust to life in prison and the (slightly predictable) love-triangle between herself, her fiancé and her ex-girlfriend, however each episode also has flashbacks which allow the watcher to piece together the individual histories of the other women in prison, and which are also used as a comparison with Piper’s privileged life before entering prison.

‘Orange is the New Black’ is worth checking out for the opening credits alone if the idea of a prison comedy-drama doesn’t appeal to you. They feature Regina Spektor’s song ‘You’ve Got Time’, which is incredibly catchy!

As someone who is fascinated by prisons and is studying Criminology, I binge-watched all 13 episodes of the first season in less than a week and can definitely recommend that you do so too, especially if you’re looking for a way to avoid the revision/coursework drama typical of this time of year. If the first season just isn’t enough, ‘Orange is the New Black’ returns to Netflix with a second season on June 6th.

Words by Hannah Barnett

Monday, 12 May 2014

Feature: The Revision Playlist

Sadly, we’re deep into revision time. Exams are looming, deadlines are nearly upon us, and we can’t even remember the last time we went out.
On the bright side though, we at Liberty Belle have put together a revision playlist to help you through the pain. We even got our writers to write some words about why they made their selection to help you build your own. We're just that nice.

Pat Benatar – 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot'
We’ve all been there. You should have started revising weeks ago, you’ve lost the reading list and your friend won’t let you borrow their painstakingly made cue cards. In the panic of the last minute cramming session, playlists tagged “chill” won’t cut it anymore. Only the most upbeat ‘80s power pop will do when trying to convince yourself that you’ll pull through and there’s none better than ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’. Charlie Mayer

Cyril Hahn- 'Say My Name (Destiny’s Child Remix)'
Singing along to songs in a library is a huge no-no, so I often go for film scores or music with fewer lyrics rather than power ballads. Cyril Hahn hit the scene a few years ago now but his classic remixes, of the likes of ‘Destiny’s Child’ as well as ‘Mariah Carey’ have the perfect blend of reinventing songs while remaining faithful to why people fell in love with them. Putting a mellow twist on classic R&B tracks has become an ever increasing trend and I would definitely recommend looking for similar cover work done by ‘The Neighbourhood’, ‘Chet Faker’ and ‘The Weeknd’. Miriam Amies

LCD Soundsystem - 'Us V Them'

Like most people, I need a little bit of motivation to help me revise. Let’s face it; sometimes the thought of how much learning you have to do in such little time is one so terrifying that feigning ignorance seems a much more sensible idea.
Choosing a song to provide this motivation has its dangers though. Picking one too energetic and you’ll find yourself dancing around your room all day, picking one not energetic enough and well… you won’t do anything.
With this in mind I’ve chosen ‘Us V Them’ by LCD Soundsystem. The combative lyrical rhetoric implied by the title is coupled with a simple mix of drums, cowbell, and scratchy guitars, keeping your mind free to concentrate on quantum mechanics, the migration of African bees, or whatever it is you were supposed to have learnt about weeks ago. Jamie Doherty

Trails and Ways - 'Nunca'
When played on repeat this track never ends, a sumptuous overlapping record thatmoves with the tide of some far off beach that the song inspires you to imagine. However, whilst promoting escapism during regular listening, Nunca escapes scintillating drum solos or guitar riffs to distract us whilst working and rather fills the room with an almost smoke-like sound, hanging in the air without disturbing the flow of your mind as you work. Arguably one of the best pieces of background music a student could ask for and it never allows your mood to drop. James McMullon

Keaton Henson – 'Teach Me'

A chilled out song from Henson which has just the right amount of singing and instrumental sections to make you relaxed and focused while doing work. His soothing tones lull you into a false sense of security that eases you into revision. This song isn't one for doing all nighters too though; otherwise you might just fall asleep while doing work. Leonora Meaney

The Drums - 'Let’s Go Surfing'

The reason I think this track is perfect for revision is the mood it evokes. The chorus picks up just the right amount of pace; it’s not too slow thankfully, so you’re unlikely to fall asleep whilst attempting to study! That said it doesn’t make you break out into an all-singing-all-dancing-around-your-room-drum-solo kind of routine, either. It’s inoffensive, played in the background without being a distraction and the chilled out vibe to the vocals only serves to remind me of the – hopefully – sunny summer that lies at the end of exam season. Bethany Kirkbride

Swiss Lips – 'U Got The Power'
When you look up at the mountain of revision towering over you and come to the realisation that you have, in fact, learnt nothing over the past academic year and yes, you are about to be tested on it, there’s nothing quite like ‘80s synth-overloaded, fizzy, electro-pop songs to get you motivated and help you power through. You’ve acknowledged that ‘all things are going against you’ but that’s okay because Swiss Lips are here to remind you that although it might not feel like it,  ‘U Got The Power’ to ace those exams. Ellen Offredy

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Single Review: 'Islands' by Screaming Maldini

Screaming Maldini
‘Islands’ is Liberty Belle favourites Screaming Maldini’s May release for their #MonthlyMaldiniXII project, which sees them releasing a free downloadable track every month. This has proved to be immensely popular already this year and is the perfect follow up to their debut album. So far we’ve been treated to the brilliant ‘Soweto’, ‘Bearings’, and ‘Abyssinia’, and ‘Islands’ does not disappoint.

As with all the songs released as part of the project so far, ‘Islands’ showcases Gina Walters’ amazing vocal talents. The cover, featuring a picture of a ship in a bottle, follows on the nautical theme already being explored this year through previous releases, and the song flows from calm to more energetic in a way which conjures up images of the sea and which makes the song stick around in your head long after you’ve heard it.

You can check out ‘Islands’ for yourself, along with the other #MonthlyMaldiniXII songs, on their Soundcloud page, and get excited for what is yet to come this year!

Words by Hannah Barnett

Live Review: Wolf Alice, Superfood, Gengahr @ Leadmill, Sheffield

Described as a ‘right of passage’ by Franz Ferdinand, touring for upcoming artists wouldn’t be complete without a date at The Leadmill, Sheffield’s longest running live music venue and nightclub. Following the release of single ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ and with an EP release on the horizon, Wolf Alice followed this passage after setting off on a UK tour with support from Superfood and Gengahr.

The night kicked off with support act Gengahr, hailing from London, who filled the room with melodic alternative pop rhythms packed full of glistening harmonies and dreamy undertones. ‘Fill My Gums With Blood’ brought about a feel of summer haziness with echoing vocals while smooth bass-lines, accompanied punchy percussion. With not much material online at present, it’s highly recommended you catch Gengahr live if they make an appearance near you.

Next up were Birmingham quartet Superfood. Known for having a mysterious online presence only recently taking to social media and making just a handful of songs available online, Superfood have grown. They graced the crowd with a set mix of 90s grunge and brit-pop sounds, whilst also not straying far from the slacker melodies and shoe-gaze tracks erupting from the ‘B-town’ music scene.

‘TV’ boasted guitar hook laden rhythms and raw vocals deliver the simplistic repeated lyrics ‘I can never sleep / I can never sleep / I can never sleep without the TV on’. ‘Bubbles’ featured sporadic guitars and punchy percussion coinciding with rough vocals and bouncy bass-lines, contrasting to the self-titled closing track, ‘Superfood’, which presented a swooning chorus full of enthusiasm.

After much anticipation Wolf Alice entered with great stage presence, bursting straight into new release ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’, opening with melancholic guitars, soon accompanied by rock riffs and the vocal hooks of front woman Ellie Rowsell singing ‘ah ah ah ah’. Unreleased track ‘Your Love’s Whore’ delivered similar elements to the aforementioned track also featuring the repeated ah’s of Rowsell, catching the attention of the crowd.

It came as no surprise that the set flitted between the peaceful rhythms and delicate guitars of ‘Blush’ to the fuzzy distorted guitars of ‘She’ and it goes without saying that they pulled it off perfectly. ‘She’ had Rowsell’s vocals switch between delicately husky and early punk reminiscent in seconds and you can see why Wolf Alice have been receiving a lot of attention of present.

Bassist, Theo Ellis, became completely immersed in the performance as they played the festival-esque,  ‘90s reflective, pop hit ‘Bros’, which also proved to be a fan favourite. They encored with the epitome of teenage angst ‘Fluffy’, full of garage sounds and screaming distorted guitars, which, being one of their first releases and knowing it was their last song received the greatest response.

There was no crowd surfing at this gig, which mindful of genre and of Sheffield fans’ usual responses was unexpected.  It may have been down to the nature of the venue and size restrictions, so perhaps on their return; Wolf Alice will play a bigger venue and ignite a bigger crowd reaction.

Words by Ellen Offredy

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Live Review: McBusted @ Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield

After a hugely successful performance at the Royal Albert Hall for McFly's tenth anniversary concert, fans have been clamoring for a reunion between Busted and McFly, and the boys didn't disappoint. Announcing a full UK arena tour last November, excitement has been building as shows across the country sold out and McBusted added more dates to the tour to keep up with the phenomenal demand. Fans had been promised a shamelessly nostalgic set with a few surprises thrown in, and that was certainly what was delivered.

The Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield, was bursting with excitable fans and first to grace them were Young Brando. They performed a set of their own material and the enthusiastic lead vocalist dominated the stage showing bags of potential.

The following support group, EofE weren't dissimilar. They opened their set with a cover of Michael Jackson's ‘Billie Jean’ that was well received by the audience and their original songs proved equally popular.

Third support, the 3 Dudes, consisted of three fresh-faced American boys, who were floppy-haired, energetic and had a clear passion for performing. Their performance was not as slick as the previous bands but they definitely gave it their all.

Photo credit: Topher Winward
Finally McBusted burst on stage with a larger-than-life stage presence, opening with ‘Air Hostess’, one of Busted's biggest hits. The arena filled with screams as they quickly followed with ‘You Said No’, a tale of teenage rejection, and ‘Britney’, inspired by former member Charlie Simpson's obsession with Britney Spears.

Although it's been ten years since the boys last toured together, the six band members don't seem to have aged at all. James Bourne sported ripped jean-shorts covered in Marvel comic book patches whilst Tom Fletcher had a snapback hat tucked in his belt loops. Their boyish charm captured the hearts of the audience demonstrating how many ways they haven't changed at all.

The band surprised the audience with an on screen film skit where they acted as victims of an alien invasion before descending from the top of the arena on a UFO, glow in the dark guitars in hand. They performed McFly favourite ‘Star Girl’ which received a huge response from the audience, dancing and singing along.

McBusted treated the audience to a slightly rockier version of Jackson 5's ‘I Want You Back’ with Bourne taking the lead on the vocals, and Matt Willis and Danny Jones accompanied him with a typically cheesy, yet entertaining and refreshing, boy-band dance.

‘Crashed the Wedding’ saw an avalanche of heart-shaped confetti launched over the audience as well as Willis donned in a wedding dress - similar fashion to Busted's original music video. This took the audience right back to 2003 when the song was first released delivering a sense of nostalgia that many of the fans had been craving.

The show ended where it all began with ‘Year 3000’ and there couldn't have been a more fitting ending. There was a great mix of both Busted and McFly songs, and the lively tunes left the audience grinning from ear to ear.

Despite concerns that the show would be a little bit too cheesy, it was close to flawless; the vibrant personalities of the boys shone through as well as their musical talent, which made the whole experience even more enjoyable. The tongue-in-cheek humour and boyish gags could have made even the most cynical person giggle. And let’s be honest, how often do you go to a concert and see a guy in a wedding dress, huge inflatable balls bouncing over the audience, and a giant trio of boobs above the stage?

Words by Sian Abbott

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Feature: Hand Of

Sheffield based arts platform, ‘Hand Of’ is getting ready for its newest event on 15th May. Victoria Beardwood spoke to its founder about all things ‘Hand Of’… 

Being home to two universities, the city of Sheffield and its rich cultural heritage are often overshadowed by the dominating label of being a ‘student city’. 21-year old Louise Snape, founder of Sheffield based arts platform, Hand Of, aims to amend this, and to support and enrich the local community through innovative art events. “I wanted to get out of the student bubble – as excellent as it is - and learn about the city we’re actually living in”, she explains. “I try to fuse the creativity of local people with that of students as there is a clear chasm between the two”.

Snape has ventured to do this through various novel projects, such as an electronic ballet based on Brecht’s 'The Good Person of Szechwan', and 'Garden Institute', a rolling event and “glorified garden party”, to which the Hand Of team invites strangers to enjoy a patchwork of performances from musicians and poets.

The platform’s newest project is its most ambitious to date. Numerous endeavors in one, 'A Long Walk to Grimethorpe' is a commission for brass band and electronics, to be performed by the University of Sheffield Brass Band on 15th May at Sheffield’s S1 Artspace. It will culminate in a documentary made by notable cineaste, Ismar Badzic. Snape views the project as a means to “set up networks between musical communities in South Yorkshire”, putting on outreach events in Sheffield primary schools, alongside workshops and collaborations between local brass bands.

Despite fears that her young age undermines her experience, a project of this magnitude and originality certainly proves otherwise and makes one wonder if there’s anything Snape can’t turn her Hand (Of - sorry) to.

Watch the trailer here
Tickets available here

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Words by Victoria Beardwood

Monday, 5 May 2014

Theatre Review: West Side Story

As we rushed in to the Drama Studio to escape a dismal Wednesday evening, we were immediately welcomed with the low overture of the orchestra; an uplift to spirits in itself as well as an exciting setting for the evening’s tone. Finding our seats in the cosy theatre having been greeted by a number of performers in character, we were now eager with anticipation. We were not about to be disappointed.

A Sheffield University Performing Arts Society production, West Side Story, a spin on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has long been a cult musical in itself. The story centres on a controversial relationship amidst a fierce race-based gang rivalry in 1950s New York; which in typical Shakespearean fashion, involves a significant amount of tragedy along the way. Whilst classics such as this are safe bets for drawing crowds in, they are seldom as simple when it comes to ensuring that the well-known story is still told in a refreshing and relevant way. Thankfully SUPAS managed to achieve this, and then some. The cast were brilliant, making the traditional story very funny with what seemed like little effort. A personal highlight was the performance of the satirical song ‘Gee Officer Krupkee’ from American gang ‘The Jets’, which was carried out with impressive skill, paying homage to the tongue in cheek nature of the film’s version whilst managing to make it their own.

Having never attended a SUPAS event in the past, we were unaware and therefore pleasantly impressed to find the calibre of the actors to be extremely high, and were particularly enthralled with the well-rounded performance of Naomi Bailey as Puerto Rican migrant Anita. However, it wasn’t just the performers whose talent shone through. The orchestra were phenomenal and contributed significantly to the overall feel of the play, causing tension in the right places and creating the incredible songs that made the entire show, a backing track couldn’t possibly have competed. It was also evident that the choreography was extremely well designed and rehearsed; the dances were exciting and professional. ‘Dance at the Gym’, a dance off between the two gangs found to be particularly entertaining, a light-hearted piece before the serious side to the story comes into full swing.
It was clear from beginning to end that not only were SUPAS very talented, but that they were enjoying it as much as the audience were, which only made the whole experience more gratifying.   Leaving the studio singing, the grim weather quickly reminded us that we were back in rainy Sheffield. Never has the tune ‘I like to be in America’ been sung so emphatically. Suffice to say two hours in 1950s New York had been a blast.  
Words by Emily Griffiths

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Film Review: Transcendence

The debut film by Wally Pfister, best known as the cinematographer on all of director Christopher Nolan’s films, including Inception and The Dark Knight, Transcendence stars Johnny Depp as Dr. Will Castor, a leading computer scientist, who along with his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), specialises in the study of artificial intelligence. Predicting a breakthrough on their creation of a sentient super-computer with the ability to change the world and achieve ‘transcendence’, he is fatally injured during an assassination attempt by a radical anti-technology terrorist group, fearing the impact such a machine will have.
With Will dying, Evelyn frantically works to upload his consciousness onto their experimental computer, causing it to develop its own self-awareness based upon his conscious mind. The grieving Evelyn uploads the computer-Will to the internet, where it starts to grow and spread.
Director Wally Pfister and the cast of Transcendence at the Los Angeles premiere.
It’s easy to see that Pfister is covering similar territory to his work with Nolan. It’s an extremely serious and humourless film, combining a sci-fi love story with a cautionary tale about the dangers of technology. The script ponders some interesting concepts about what it is to be human, and the potential of technology to improve our lives, but poses them in a muddled script which never develops much sense of threat or tension. Will’s growing power is hinted at but never fully explored, making the film feel surprisingly small and uninvolving.
As such, most of the film takes place in bare white labs, offices or deserts, in which characters discuss issues of the philosophy of technology. The plot mostly concerns how the two opposing sides of the debate prepare for the inevitable, but ultimately underwhelming, big finale, leaving the film to feel like essentially a long montage.
The relationship between Will and Evelyn should really be the main focus of the film, with her questioning whether she can love a human-like machine, and indeed, if that computer even is Will. But their loving marriage never comes across as especially convincing or engaging. It may be Depp is doing an excellent job of playing an emotionless computer, but he comes across as being perpetually bored in a rather flat performance. Hall tries her best, mixing grief with intelligent determination, but the script limits her scope.
The film looks good, with a controlled gaze and nice shots of desert ghost towns and vast fields of solar panels. But visuals alone aren’t enough to make up for a film which ultimately feels pretty dreary. With its fears of global technological threat, I couldn’t help thinking of Transcendence as being like a less involving or entertaining version of The Terminator. If you want to see a better film about human relationships with technology, then you should definitely watch Her, a charming, funny, believable and overall touching film about modern love.
Overall, whilst it is admirable that Transcendence considers some complex questions, it comes at the expense of making an exciting and memorable thriller.

Words by Patrick Lavin