The Celebration of Mediocrity

For some reason, Coldplay are seen as national treasures. They dominate the airwaves; and the festival bills. You can’t escape them. They are everywhere music is, they even played the whole of a ceremony for a major international sporting event.

It baffles me. Besides a few good, catchy singles, they are awful. Their album songs start nowhere, go nowhere and finish nowhere. The composition is usually terrible and the music can border on painful to listen to.

Despite that, I kept thinking the next album would be better and from their second up to Mylo Xyloto bought every single one. They sit amongst my CD’s like blood stains on a white wall. We all have albums we are embarrassed to own and for us (as Emma shares my view), it’s Coldplay.

Parachutes:

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Emma owns Parachutes, and to be fair it’s not a dreadful debut album. It’s also remarkably average. There’s no doubt that Yellow and Trouble are good songs, but this only reinforces the Coldplay stereotype rather than redeems the album. The rest of the album is instantly forgettable.

Rating: 4/10

A Rush of Blood to the Head:

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I’ve listened to Coldplay’s second album more than most, however I never really truly got into it. Again, the singles are good songs – Clocks, The Scientist, In My Place, and the rest of the album falls flat. You see now why I’m grouping the reviews together? Every Coldplay album merges into the last in one stream of unforgettable tripe for 90% of the time held up by 10% of decent-ness. Daylight and A Whisper are two god-awful tracks.

Rating: 3/10

X&Y:

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The most disappointing of Coldplay albums. And yet, it somehow manages to explain Coldplay perfectly. The best singles can be found amongst X&Y; including the much maligned Fix You. The terrible album tracks are also there: What If, Swallowed In The Sea, however amongst it all is a gem. Til Kingdom Come is, hands down, the best track Coldplay have never released. And yet, in true Coldplay fashion – it can only appear as a hidden track. For that, X&Y gets marked down.

Rating: 2.5/10

Viva la Vida:

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My favourite Coldplay album. Of the 10 songs found within it, 5 were released as singles – meaning half the songs are listenable! Even the album tracks are decent, with 42 an attempt by Coldplay to step outside of their comfort zone and write something without a chorus. It worked, and I appreciate that. The first Coldplay album I bought, and the only one I vaguely like.

Rating: 5/10

Mylo Xyloto:

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I’d argue MX is the worst of all of the Coldplay albums I own. Convinced to buy it after hearing Paradise, it only contains three decent songs. Out of 14, that just isn’t enough. I really tried to listen to it and love it, however was never able to. The album when I finally gave up trying to like Coldplay.

Rating: 2/10

As for the rest… we heard Magic and decided not to bother with Coldplay’s attempt following MX. Magic was an awful song, with none of the usual tricks, which draw unfortunate listeners into their singles. I haven’t heard anything from their latest album, and nor do I want to. My Coldplay phase is over, and thankfully at that.

In hindsight, it would be much more advisable to buy a Coldplay greatest hits album, or in this day and age just download their hits. I never thought I’d suggest downloads, however Coldplay’s infuriating inconsistency merits it.

Coldplay have made a career violating modern society’s desire for one or two tracks rather than an album. I’d almost admire that, if younger me hadn’t wasted so much money buying their worthless attempts at making music.

My main problem with Coldplay can be summed up: they have no soul; they possess no character. They are only in music to make money.

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Music Through The Eras

I’ve always been fascinated by space. In many ways it was the one reason I did a physics degree in the first place. Physics degrees ruin everything anyone could ever enjoy about the subject, and that was that. I thought my love of all things clever had gone.

Last Thursday, I was stood in the Rock City crowd, and was reading about what I had done on that day in years gone by. Apparently, a year previous I had put up my review of Kaiser Chiefs. Public Service Broadcasting had supported the Kaisers on that day. This is relevant because I was stood in a crowd that was about to enjoy Public Service Broadcasting.

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PSB (for that’ll be easier from now on) have had an incredible year. Their second album charted just under the top 10, and the vinyl release was the 34th best selling vinyl of 2015. It was entitled “The Race For Space” and it has reinvigorated my love for all things space.

The gig was fun. Fun seems like a horrible word to describe it. A word that just doesn’t do it justice, yet it seems like the only proper word. Emma and I haven’t ever had that much fun at a gig.

PSB are, officially, a two-piece. Although in reality that should be three, and live it’s definitely four. It’s more than about the music for PSB; their live member is in charge of the visuals. They put music to old public service films, and play sections of the films on big screens and TVs on the stage. They even come with their very own Sputnik.

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The set was a great mix of their first album and second album material with a couple of songs thrown in from their War Room EP. And who says you need vocals to have a good gig? PSB only interact with the crowd through the use of a computer and hand actions, but that doesn’t deprive from the experience. In fact, there was more humour than most gigs, my favourite being Willgoose telling an audience member to simmer down after they heckled him.

Despite a few technical difficulties, at the end of the day when you try something this expansive there are bound to be some, this was one of my favourite gigs of all time. And I don’t think that’s an exaggeration, they really were superb and I would see them every time I can.

I have a theory. It changes my perspective on why I did physics. I had a love with the romanticism of physics, rather than the reality. The romanticism is contained within the history of developments, a side that PSB highlight.

If schools taught history in the style of PSB, it would be a lot more successful.

PSB played:

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Gabrielle Aplin @ Rock City

Rock City is quickly becoming my favourite venue in the country, and I’ve only seen two gigs there. The reason? The sound quality for a start is fantastic; you can hear every single chord, note and word. The atmosphere is great, it’s not a small venue yet retains a certain level of intimacy. You feel close to, and connected with those around you, and as a result, the artist.

For a venue with the word “Rock” in its title, it works particularly well for the more pop/folky artists. This again comes back to the sound, complete clarity is great for rock gigs but is crucial for singer-songwriter ones.

Last night we saw Gabrielle Aplin there, and if I had to use one word to describe it, it would be magical.

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Aplin is a diamond in the rough of the music industry. She writes catchy and memorable songs, yet her biggest asset is quite clearly her voice. That alone is great for a record and acceptable for a live performance but wouldn’t make her worth seeing gig.

What makes gigs worth it is her character. She interacts with the crowd, she clearly enjoy what she does and everything seems genuine. Even when she said “this is the best crowd I’ve ever played to”, a line said by so many people across so many ages of music, it felt more true than before.

I first heard Gabrielle when listening to the radio on a long car journey home. I was captivated by Salvation, and pestered Emma to lend me her album. Her first album is an incredible record, but, in a refreshing change from the norm, her second excels it in every department.

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I think that this was summed up during the period of the gig last night immediately after her beautiful Space Oddity tribute to Bowie. Four of the five songs that followed were taken from her second album, and it was the best part of the entire night. It helped that Light Up The Dark, Together, Slip Away and Sweet Nothing are the highlights of the album, and further that the first album song was her first single, Please Don’t Say You Love Me, but it highlights the strength and improvement of her second release. That section of five songs is one of my favourite passages of a gig of all time.

From what I gather, Gabrielle Aplin tours with people she knows. She’s close friends with Hudson Taylor, and they usually support her – they didn’t due to an injury. Instead she called in Lewis Watson, who talks to them all on twitter. Hannah Grace also supported her, and then later became Gabrielle’s backing vocalist. She has her own record label, which Nottingham artist Saint Raymond is signed to, and he joined her on stage to perform his song to open the encore. She promotes unsigned, unknown or small artists through her own fame.

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With a beautiful voice, a talent for writing songs, a stage presence and the aforementioned promotion of other artists, it’s impossible not to like Gabrielle Aplin.

She didn’t want the gig to end, a view most likely shared by everyone packed into Rock City to see her.

Gabrielle Aplin played (plus a cover of a Saint Raymond song before Salvation):

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