Just last month, Arizona bound rock band The Maine released their first ever fully acoustic EP named Imaginary Numbers. Despite having just completed a world tour following the release of their fourth studio album, Forever Halloween in June, they’ve both recorded and produced this EP on their own, using a studio they built themselves. It’s safe to say that for their first acoustic EP, this record has been heavily anticipated, especially after Forever Halloween bought us a distinctive more grounded and sophisticated sound from the five piece band.
Imaginary Numbers gives us five songs – some of which derived from poems front man John O’Callaghan had previously written – that simply didn’t belong on their previous album or fit in with it’s sound. The result is a raw, laid back and truthful album that gives us a real look inside of the band’s minds. It was only with the release of These Four Words from Forever Halloween that John O’Callaghan admitted it was the most revealing song he has ever written, which is far cry from some of their other more pop punk singles such as Inside of You and Everything I Ask For. This EP has only delved further into his mind and created an honest and upfront image of the world – and love – from his point of view. It’s clear to see that as this band have grown up, so has their music.
This EP strips away all the preconceptions of what an album should have – if you’re expecting a mix of upbeat and inspiring songs, then this isn’t the EP for you. Instead it’s brutally honest and the fact that most of the songs were taken from what began as poems somewhat suggests that this EP wasn’t put out with the aim to earn money and gain record sales. It’s simply a gift to the fans; a full on and basic bunch of songs put together, something the band have perhaps enjoyed putting together in their own time and have just decided to share, as opposed to producing an album as a career move.
Raining in Paris is the first song on the album and lays the perfect foundation for the rest of the EP; it’s easy on the ears, the lyrics are thought provoking and just listening to it immediately relaxes you with it’s slow instrumentals and John’s soothing and beautiful vocals. A slight ode to Kennedy Curse from their last album I feel, this song has a slight country feel to it, which I think accurately represents some of the bands biggest influences.
Room With No Windows reminds me a lot of a song called Happy from their previous album, in that it’s a more upbeat tune and beat only to reveal much more when you listen to the lyrics. It’s not a happy song but it’s very easy to catch onto and sing along to. It has a very relaxed and acoustic vibe to it, with undertones suggesting that sitting around and sulking isn’t going to change your life if you’re not actually willing to get up and do anything about wanting that change.
Perfectly Out Of Key really stands out for me and is very powerful. Backed up by only beautiful piano keys, John sings about never necessarily fitting in; how everyone might feel a little different and weird sometimes but that despite the pressure of being expected to maybe be one person, you should be happy with who you are. He’s singing about how he’d much rather be different and view the world through his own eyes, with his own mind because even if it’s not necessarily right, it’s a lot easier than dealing with some of the bad stuff this world sometimes has to offer.
Another firm favourite of mine, Visions is a hauntingly beautiful ballad which is clearly the second part to These Four Words from their previous album. It tells the story of how he’s suffered a break up and as hard as he tries to get over it, he’s constantly reminded of that relationship; their story and their memories. Visions haunt him, but as much as he wants to move on, in some ways he likes having that reminder and might be ready to let go, but he doesn’t necessarily want to. It’s bittersweet in many ways. It’s a classic song that simply won’t get old and I feel that I’ll be listening to this in years to come. The simple but beautiful Harmonica solo adds further character to the song, and all you have to do is close your eyes and listen to the lyrics to this song to find yourself in John O’Callaghan’s shoes, remembering and having visions of your own past relationships too.
Lovely Sad again has a slight country feel to it and I love that it rounds up that similar feeling from what the first song brought to the EP, ending the release with such a natural progression that you could press repeat and listen to the whole thing all over again. Lovely Sad is also what provides the EP with it’s name and has some powerful lyrics, such as ‘what if’s and the should have’s, they start to eat my brain’ – another nod to one of the front man’s previous published poems. This is another sad song, but this time it isn’t disguised with a more happy tune. It’s not a sad tune per se, but it’s a beautiful song that successfully sums up the EP. It ends with the lyrics ‘we’re all sad, but to me we’re lovely sad’ which I suppose is a bittersweet feeling and a continuation on from the fact that we may be sad, but that’s okay, if somewhat lovely too.
The Maine have yet again impressed with their newest EP which is a small and honest stepping stone between albums. I hope they keep their upfront honesty displayed in this EP and their last album for whatever they plan to release next.
Milton Keynes Reggae Festival brings stars and sunshine to MK
Milton Keynes Reggae Festival being held in Campbell Park is set to bring some of the biggest names in reggae to Milton Keynes. Taking place on Saturday 14th August, the all day reggae festival will see performances from vintage reggae artists like Aswad, Maxi Priest and arguably the most influential reggae band, The Maytals.
Also performing on the all-day reggae festival are a selection of artists that have taken Reggae to new audiences. These include Lover’s Rock stars Carroll Thompson and Janet Kay, legendary Dub specialists Channel One Sound System (Mikey Dread and Ras Kayleb), The Marley Experience and many more acts.
Limited tickets are available online. Standard tickets are sold out.
Five reasons to attend Milton Keynes Reggae Festival
With such a good lineup, it was hard to pick our favourite artists to see at the festival but we have shortlisted our five favourite reasons to attend the Milton Keynes Reggae Festival.
1. The Maytals Band at Milton Keynes Reggae Festival
The Maytals Band also known as Toots and Maytals are one of the most influential reggae bands of all times. Some even credit the term Reggae to the bands ‘Do The Reggae’ 1968 hit written by the late Toots Hibbert who sadly passed away last September.
The Maytals Band have had numerous international hits including Pressure Drop, 54-56, Funky Kingston and Monkey Man.
2. Aswad at Milton Keynes Reggae Festival
After over fifteen albums and two decades on the music scene, Aswad remains one of Britain’s best-loved reggae bands. With hits such as Don’t Turn Around and Shine, Aswad are a large part of UK reggae history.
3. Maxi Priest at Milton Keynes Reggae Festival
UK Born Max “Maxi Priest” Elliott was born in South London in 1961 and over a ten year period from 1986 to 1996, notched up a string of UK chart hits with two of them hitting the big time in America where Reggae was relatively unknown.
Known best for his international chart hits Wild World and Close To You, Maxi Priest has gone on to have hits with Shabba Ranks (Housecall) and Shaggy (I’m Alright).
4. David Rodigan at Milton Keynes Reggae Festival
David Michael Rodigan MBE or just Rodigan needs no formal introduction. The DJ, Selector and all-around soundclash champion has established himself as a major force on the international reggae scene. His performance on stage at soundclashes across the world are legendary.
5. Hear something different at Milton Keynes Reggae Festival
With such an incredible lineup, you will definitely get to experience something new. Many new musicals genres have come out of Reggae from SKA to rocksteady to Ragga and UK favourite, Drum & Bass. King of Drum & Bass General Levy is also on the Milton Keynes Reggae Festival lineup. Check out this Incredible video of General Levy.
Campbell Park Milton Keynes
Campbell Park managed by The Parks Trust is located in the heart of Milton Keynes, this central city park stretches from the theatre end of Central Milton Keynes down to the Grand Union Canal.
Beds & Herts duo The Shires announce online concert
The Shires are a duo from Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire who are innately passionate about demonstrating the continued relevance of their UK perspective on country music. Made up of Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes, the pair create music that draws from classic elements of the genre, whilst delivering singalong, mellow experiences within their forward-thinking tales.
Although 2021 sees The Shires delay their scheduled tour due to current COVID-19 restrictions, they are thrilled to announce a very special worldwide concert online for the beginning of April.
About The Shires
The Shires are two relatable, exuberant friends that have confessed awe in each other’s vast skillset. With just their guitars, obsessive song-writing and vocal ability, the British duo have sold-out the prestigious Royal Albert Hall, become the first home country act to reach the top ten of the British album charts and even enjoyed a performance at the Royal Wedding on BBC Radio 2. The Shires carried this successful streak into 2020 with the release of their fourth album, Good Years. Recorded in the home of Country music, Nashville, the body of work concentrated on the authentic storytelling and the seamlessly blended vocals the duo have crafted a reputation for.
Upcoming performances by The Shires
The online concert, on the 10th April, will feature Ben and Crissie (and their band) relishing in the part of their musical career they love the most, performing. Creating an atmospheric live experience, the concert is presented with unbelievable sound quality and will boast their most prominent songs, including Daddy’s Little Girl and I Just Wanna Love You.
The Shires will be performing live at Bedford Corn Exchange. This event’s performance date was changed (the old date was Sunday, 16 May 2021 at 7:00 PM). The show will now take place on Friday, 13 May 2022 at 7:00 PM.
Henley Festival goes Digital with Will Young & Beverley Knight
For 2020 Henley Festival has announced that it will be going digital, presenting a 2-hour evening concert, streamed on the Henley Festival website with performances from the Hurley House Hotel.
Popstar Will Young will perform some of his classic hits including Love Revolution, Joy and Light my fire. He says: “It’s a pleasure to be able use a home filmed show, the band and I have been working on during lockdown for Henley, a place I’ve performed in and loved. I grew up not too far from there, so it is almost a virtual home-town show.”
Soul singer Beverley Knight will perform a 40 minute concert of her top hits. There will also be performances from classical pianist Hao Zi Yoh, and number one Jazz musician Joe Stilgoe. Comedy will be provided by Rory Bremner who will perform some new topical material whilst being interviewed by cricket commentator David Gower. David Gower who has said “As a guest in previous years I have grown to love the atmosphere and diversity of the many talents on show at the Henley Festival so it is a great pleasure to add a little something back with this year’s digital event”
Festival goers can watch the digital concert from the comfort of their own homes, with tickets starting from £10.10 each and available from www.henley-festival.co.uk.
All ticket sales will help to support the not-for-profit festival to continue in 2021. Established 38 years ago as a classical music charity event, Henley Festival continues to be run on a not for profit basis. supporting charitable projects at both a national and local level.
Henley Festival announced back in April that this year’s five day black-tie Festival will be postponed in its entirety to July 2021, moving the full 2020 line up to next year including headliners James Blunt, Madness, and Sophie Ellis Bextor. Anyone who holds tickets to the 2020 festival will be able to use them in 2021.
Henley Festival CEO Nick Mattingley said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to offer a digital version of Henley Festival for 2020 with some of the UK’s best loved performers. This is a wonderful opportunity for people to experience the festival from the comfort of their homes.”