Sonar Magazine are looking for creative people at Solent University to take over the reins for the new academic year.
We are looking for 5 core committee members (click for job descriptions):
Offline (Magazine) Editor
Marketing and Sales Coordinator
Alongside this we are looking for coordinators in Fashion, Sports and Art & Music.
Nominations must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by FRIDAY 11th MAY. Nomination forms are available here.
A voting system to decide the positions will happen on WEDNESDAY 23rd MAY.
All nominees must be full-time students at Southampton Solent University, and full members of Sonar Magazine.
Any further inquiries can be emailed to Steph at email@example.com
Brighton born, indie-pop outfit Cave Painting present a magical mix of ambient melodies and hypnotic vocals. Their debut EP came out last year and is available for listening below, through Soundcloud.
The band will play Joiners, Southampton tomorrow (11 March).
Words: Catherine Elliott
It’s been three years since her debut ‘Speech Therapy’ won the 29-year-old rapper the highly acclaimed Mercury Prize, beating off strong contenders like Florence + the Machine and Kasabian. Her new album is inspired by Tupac and has been produced by the same producer as Ghostpoet, Kwes. The happy go lucky tracks have gone and made way for political statements and earnest tales of lost love.
The record opens with ‘Studio Backpack Rap’ in which she samples Biggy, “it was all a dream, she used to read Smash Hits magazine”. Backpack Rap by definition means a person that dislikes mainstream rap, “a person who raps about real life shit that matters and has experienced, rarely about pimping hoes/having millions/selling immense amounts of drugs/murdering random people for no apparent reason or motive.” This is exactly what this album personifies, and what a great note to start with.
‘Blaze up a Fire’ was written just before the London riots, and serves as prediction of anarchy. It was released just after, Debelle could obviously feel the unrest bubbling underneath the surface of society and that is something, I think, is quite extraordinary. It has appearances from fellow rappers Roots Manuva and Realism.
‘Elephant in the Living Room’ makes way for strings, and talks about a relationship that needs to end, because she doesn’t feel the same about him anymore. There is a secret between them, and the elephant signifies that. She then flips the script on ‘X Marks the Spot’ where she angrily raps about a guy always talking about his ex. It’s angsty and hip hoppy.
‘Angel Wings’ is a little too sentimental for me. “I know these writers and bloggers want to hate on me.” It is very obviously an autobiographical song about her struggle to make it in the music business. It doesn’t really match up with the strong sentiments that are conveyed by the other tracks, it doesn’t resonate. ‘I’m With It’ gives us a taste of soul disco, its a nice blast of happiness onto the record.
So, Nicky Minaj has been given all this praise for being such a good female rapper? Minaj doesn’t have a patch on Speech Debelle. There is no need for gimmicks and fancy videos and a dressing up box; her music speaks enough power not to need them, It’s just stripped back talent. Thinking back to ‘Better Days’ and ‘Spinnin’ , which were two great tracks from her debut, Debelle has changed it up but kept her power, this album is surprisingly good.
Words: Kirsty Summerford
Platinum selling US rockers The Fray are back with a brand new album, ‘Scars and Stories’
High school friends Isaac Slade and Joe King formed The Fray back in 2002 after
bumping into each other in a guitar shop. The release of their single ‘How to Save
a Life’ hurled the band onto the music scene and brought the group worldwide
fame, as their second album debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and
led them to receive a Grammy nomination.
Following their success, the band is back with their third album, which was
recorded at the legendary Blackbird Studios in Nashville. Helping to hone
The Fray’s sound, producer Brendan O’Brien who has worked with Bruce
Springsteen and Pearl Jam, worked alongside the band.
Scars and Stories leads with ‘Heartbeat’, which was inspired by lead singer Isaac
Slade’s travelling. “I travelled through South Africa and Rwanda with a buddy. I
ended up meeting so many cool inspiring people, and all these ideas for lyrics and
melodies just started rushing in.” The song is a great opener and makes you want
to carry on listening to what else The Fray has in store.
‘The Fighter’ starts off slow with a gradual build up to the rocky chorus, which
gives you a chance to really listen to their lyrics. Followed by ‘Turn Me On’
with cheeky lyrics and a good beat that is easy to listen to. Slade’s vocals are
excellent on this track; you can really hear the raspy rock tone to his voice that
overpowers the beat, in a good way.
The next track ‘Run For Your Life’ is very catchy. I love the use of the piano
being the main instrument you can hear. ‘I Can Barely Say’ and ‘Be Still’ are
my favourite songs off the record. They are both beautiful tracks, lyrically and
The album gets better as you listen to each track, but becomes slightly repetitive
with the same type of sound, which isn’t a bad thing if you love the kind of music
Overall it’s a great album, and a very easy listen. Throughout the record you can
hear in each song how the band has transformed their real life experiences into a
collection of songs that are reflective but still maintain that pop/rock vibe.
The single ‘Heartbeat’ and album ‘Scars and Stories’ will both be available on
Words: Laura Nicholls
Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down. I’d like to take a minute just sit right there and I’ll tell you how I saw a band called Howler.
In Minnieopolis born and raised, in the basement studio is where they spent most of their days. Chilling out, maxin’, relaxing all cool and playing some tunes outside of the school. When a couple of guys, who were up to no good, and started making bands in their neighbourhood.
They got in one lil record deal and they all got scared and said, “Indie-rock’s cool and we don’t care”. They played and played day after day, and packed their suitcases and went off on their way and sold many-a-ticket. Drank outta the bottle and thought they might as well kick it.
First tour yo’, this is badass. Drinking whiskey out of a champagne glass, is this what the people of Howler living like? Hmm this might be alright. But wait I hear rock, hipsters and all that. Is this the type of place SONAR sent this cool cat?! I hope they’re prepared for the noise of Howler.
Well I had a pint and Howler came out. There was a dude that looked like a goof standing with a guitar out. I aint messin yet I just got here. I two stepped with the hipsters like lightning disappeared. I whistled for a tune and when it came on the chorus played FRESH and it had an indie in the mirror. If anything I can say this band was rare.
But I thought naw forget it yo big-up to Howler. It got to about song 7 or 8 and I yelled to the band “Yo homes smell ya later” I looked at my kingdom I was finally home to sit on my throne and review Howler.
Words: Catherine Elliott
Goldfrapp starting making music just over a decade ago and is made up of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory. They have attracted a huge cult following that has spanned their career, and what a great time to remind the world of just how good they really are.
The album highlights how musically skilled and versatile the pair are with a collection of their most successful tracks, and two additional ones; ‘Melancholy Sky’ and ‘Yellow Halo’. The album artwork is a collage of their previous album covers artistically placed over one another.
The album kicks off with the huge glam rock sound of ‘Ooh La La’, which is a perfect opener, followed by ‘Number 1’ both taken from their ‘Supernature’ album and are a strong representation of their finest electro moments.
Swooping into the trashy techno sounding ‘Strict Machine’ this song showcases the beautiful union of Alison’s seductive husky vocals and Wills synths. Could music be anymore perfectly engineered? It’s eerie. ‘Lovely head’ is heart breaking sad, strange and was uber sophisticated for its time. ‘Utopia’ is another glowing moment and a reminder of how daring Goldfrapp were throughout their career, constantly changing their sound, but never losing their personality.
‘A & E’ is an absolute favourite of mine. ‘Happiness’ is a dreamy almost hypnotic in parts beauty of a song. ‘Train’ is the ultimate in electro-sexy. ‘Ride A White Horse’ is disco pop, and their most successful single to date. ‘Rocket’ is pure and flawless pop music. The euphoric ‘Believer’ is followed by ‘Black Cherry’ which is just mesmerizing. Words cannot describe how much I adore Goldfrapp.
‘Yellow Halo’ is just unbelievably emotive, and what a great way to finish off the album. It’s upbeat, but emotional like someone’s funnelled life into music. ‘Melancoly Sky’ is nice, but I’m not overly fond of it. All in all, thank you Goldfrapp, for reminding us just how wonderful and iconic you really are, and what a glimmering career you’ve had.
Words: Chris Taylor
The first full studio album in 14 years emerges unto us in the form of A Different Kind of Truth. Reeling on their recent induction into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, this seems the perfect time to make a classic Rock n Roll comeback. This time around Sammy Hagar is out and David Lee Roth is once again on vocals for his first studio album since the 1984 album. Ironically that was the last time Van Halen had a number 1 song in the U.K.
You may think that this will be the end of the cheesy ‘Jump’ Van Halen of old, complete with spandex trousers and overpowering keyboard riffs. Well, the keyboards and the spandex may be gone, but the sparkly jackets cheese in the music still runs strong.
The album begins strong with new single ‘Tattoo’ which is classic Van Halen; full of crazy guitar solos throughout and tongue-in-cheek lyrics about having fun and pulling women. This stripped down pop-rock song almost becomes easy listening with a slow rhythm and a somewhat sexy beat.
Other highlights of the album include: ‘She’s The Woman’ which has the same theme as ‘Tattoo’ but a little faster and edgier. ‘China Town’ is a fairly frisky song too. It is a reminder of the 80’s rock music that would not look of place on the Vice City soundtrack.
The problem with the rest of the album is that the material starts to feel as though it is repeating itself, except less catchy. Each song in the second half of the album fails to make any impression, and becomes a relief that the album is only 8 songs long.
The lack of great material throughout an album has plagued Van Halen since the 1984 album. It seems as though Van Halen has had its day, and we should be left with the “Jump” days of the ultra-cheesy 80’s era. The band will never have the success they once had in the days of glam rock, but they will always remain a favourite for hair metal fans and will forever be remembered as one of the
most fun bands to see live. The question is; can they still cut it with today’s concert punters? Or will
their shows be entirely populated by mothers and 80’s glam fans? Here’s hoping they still have some
magic left in them to entertain the masses.
A Different Kind of Truth is available now.
Words: Michael Anjos
Playing ‘Uncharted 3’ is like watching a really good film but, every ten minutes or so all of your neighbours run in and bludgeon you with deck chairs. It’s not that it is bad; in fact, it’s actually quite good. Just after a while I got the distinct impression that it wanted to be a film and not a game, and worst of all that it resented me for it. So when it did begrudginglybecome an interactive experience I would find myself being punished by swarms of heavily armed, although not so bright, NPCs with a niggling habit of pumping me with enough lead to power a Duracell warehouse.
As the game’s combat sequences are primarily cover based shooting, I figured shooting from behind cover would be a pretty safe bet. But as it turns out, the enemy soldiers have some sort of pre-arranged death pact, in which they have asserted that the pros of killing me far outweigh the cons of not breathing anymore. This results in a fairly nonchalant attitude as they stroll over to my small cubby hole eating their weight in ammo as they go. Sure, I’ll take down a few of them, but it’s only a matter of time before one of them gets close enough to stick his 12 gauge up one of my nostrils and redecorate the wallpaper with the squishier parts of my brain
I can’t really blame them though, I’d probably saunter over to my enemies too if I had 300 tonnes of re-enforced steel armour on my face. I fondly reflect on the many occasions where I would fire a well aimed rocket propelled grenade at an NPC’s head, only to have him shrug it off with a sort of Devil-may-care attitude and proceed to punch several holes in my daddy sack.
But as I said before, the shoot outs don’t really do anything for the game besides distract from the well crafted story sequences and make me want to punch small animals. What really makes the game are the puzzles, which maintain the balance between challenging enough that I feel some sort of pride after working it out, but not so complex that I throw my control at the cat after my fourth aneurism. My only hang up about the puzzles is the “helpful” hinting the characters deem necessary whenever you appear to be stuck. It’s like they’re saying “Yes, alright you’ve had your fun, can we get back to the story now?” I remember one incident where I was in an old castle and had to use a pair of binoculars to spot a hidden symbol across the courtyard. One of my accomplices felt the need to remind me to “look inside the castle” every thirty seconds, which wasn’t exactly the most helpful advice seeing as there’s fuck all else to look at. Even with my team mate’s constant pearls of wisdom, it still took me about ten minutes to find the symbol and needless to say, by the time I put down the binoculars, I was already looking up ways to give my friend an impromptu colonoscopy with them.
All my nit-picking aside though, ‘Uncharted 3’ is still very enjoyable, although it follows the usual trilogy pattern of not being as good as the last two, it still manages to sit comfortably in the category of “not completely terrible”. The story is well paced and enjoyable, and at times it’s hard to tell when the cinematics end and the game begins, which, more often than not, resulted in me standing idly by as a group of unseemly looking gentlemen played operation with my abdomen and a rocket launcher. But again I’m just nit-picking, and once you get used to seeing the Game Over screen every five minutes the combat sequences become almost tolerable, so all in all I give it an 8/10 because I wanted to give it 7 but everyone else gave it 10 and I don’t want the other reviewers to make fun of me and take my lunch money.
Words: Steph Powell // Photo: Dan Dennison
Bestival announces first names for 2012, with The XX and Sigur Ros as exclusives.
This morning Rob Da Bank took to Twitter (@RobdaBank) to start unveiling the line up for Bestival 2012.
Among the names announced so far are Justice, Hot Chip, Little Dragon and Two Door Cinema Club.
But perhaps the most exciting news is that The XX and Sigur Ros are playing the festival exclusively,
with both bands currently working on new material. Bestival will be Sigur Ros’ only UK date of 2012.
The Bestival Line Up so far:
Two Door Cinema Club
De La Soul
Earth, Wind and Fire
Buraka Son Sistema
Lianne La Havas
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
The 2 Bears
Claude Von Stroke
Maya Jane Coles
Words: Nathan Genese
X Factor runner-up 2011 Marcus Collins’ is set to release his debut single on March 4th, ‘Red Nation Army’. The single has been taken from his album ‘Marcus Collins’ which is due to be released on March 12th.
‘Red Nation Army’ is a cover from The White Strips, yet it should not be compared to the original rock classic. Marcus takes a bluesy approach, using his wide vocal range to bring his own 50s, 60s approach to the track. Now, while the backing sounds a little harsh at times, Marcus’ actual voice is soulful and upbeat and the song is definitely worth a listen.
However, my problem with Marcus’ choice of song is that on his album he has written a number of songs and for a debut release choosing a cover song may not present his best abilities as an artist. Rather, Marcus could face being seen as just another X Factor contestant who’s stumbled onto a record deal, found a popular song by a well-established artist and then torn it to pieces, rather then being given praise for his take on the song.
Marcus is on tour with X Factor throughout February, March and April and to find out more on what Marcus is up to visit his website: www.marcuscollinsmusic.com .