REVIEW: ASCENDING DAWN – ‘COALESCE’ 18

They might be a fairly new band, but coming into such a saturated and rock heavy music world certainly hasn’t dampened the spirits – or the voices – of London based prog/alt metal quartet Ascending Dawn and their debut album Coalesce makes quite the first impression.

Opening numbers “All In Now” and particularly stand-out track number 3 “Cannonball” make sure listeners pick up on the almost undeniable air of Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia surrounding AD’s front-woman Marlain Angelides from the off – both have strong voices, fraught with power and emotion, but make no mistake, they are also entirely different people who just happen to share a career path.

While Marlain rightly takes centre stage across the 9 tracks – 10 if you include the radio edit of “Cannonball” – featured on the collection – her band-mates Jen Fletcher, Mark Weatherley and Owen Rees also shine thanks to their tight musicianship and ability to create a great ambience with their instruments.

The album is also helped greatly by impressive production, with the mixing and mastering done Jochem Jacobs, formerly of Textures. His efforts on Coalesce allow for each track to connect with the next, even when lyrically or musically they really shouldn’t, and it’s this that ultimately prevents the album from being a stop-start ‘what the hell is going on’ type of record.

Despite the bands’ many talents, which they showcase as best they can on the album, come the half-way point, and most notably following “Opposites”, each track does tend to start sounding like the last as the group appear to have stuck to what they know and do best. It might work on a debut album but should they be fortunate enough to return to the studio and record a second, a bit of variety certainly wouldn’t go amiss. Nevertheless, for a first effort, it’s a strong and well-polished one, sure to impress those music fans who like their tracks to be large, considerably loud and rather in your face.

Coalesce is available now.

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2018 BRIT AWARDS: CRITICS’ CHOICE SHORTLIST REVEALED 19

We are extremely excited to announce that Jorja Smith, Stefflon Don and Mabel have been nominated for the 2018 BRITs Critics’ Choice award. These three outstanding talents have been whittled down from over 100 artists selected by a team of music industry experts across radio, TV, print and online.

The BRITs Critics’ Choice award has been successfully predicting and identifying the next artist to make waves in the music industry since 2008. Winners across the last ten years include Adele, Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding and last year’s winner Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, who have gone on to achieve extraordinary chart success not only in the UK, but worldwide.

Jorja Smith, a 20-year-old R&B songstress from Walsall in the West Midlands met her now manager aged 15 but it was the release of her Dizzee Rascal inspired ‘Blue Lights’ in 2016 that put her and her soulful, diverse vocals into the spotlight. She has seen her international profile rocket this year after featuring on Drake’s ‘More Life’. 

Speaking of her nomination, Jorja said: “It’s an honour to be recognised amongst such incredible emerging talent. 2017 was a very special year and there’s so much more to come from me in 2018!” 

Multitalented rapper, singer and songwriter Stefflon Don sent ripples through the music industry with her cover of Wretch 32’s ‘Six Words’ and Section Boyz’s ‘Lock Arff’ in 2015. Her ability to switch between rap, grime, dancehall patios and smooth vocals effortlessly and with confidence is perhaps why she has gathered the attention of her musical peers – collaborating with the likes of Lethal Bizzle, French Montana and Skepta. 

Speaking of her Critics’ Choice nomination, Steff said: “I am so excited to be nominated for this amazing award. A big shout out to all my fans and dons for their support. 2017 has been lit and I can’t wait for 2018! Mad love to you all”

21-year-old Mabel released her first single, ‘Know Me Better’ on Soundcloud in July 2015. It was a viral hit and was picked up by Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and Annie Mac. By October of that year she had signed a major label deal. Fast forward to 2017, and her single ‘Finders Keepers’ has been one of the breakout hits of the year, spending five weeks in the UK Top 10 and reaching almost 20 million views on YouTube.  

Speaking of her nomination, Mabel said: “Being nominated for the Critics’ Choice award really is a dream come true for me.  So much hard work has gone into getting to this point, so to be acknowledged by something like the BRIT Awards means the world.”

The 2018 Critics’ Choice Award winner will be announced on Monday 4 December, and will be the first recipient of the bespoke award designed by Sir Anish Kapoor. 

2018 GRAMMY NOMINATIONS REVEALED 16

The 60th Grammy Awards nominations have been announced.

Music’s biggest night in America is set to air live from New York’s Madison Square Garden next year on January 28 on CBS.

Jay-Z leads the nominations with eight, followed by Kendrick Lamar with seven and Bruno Mars with six.

Here is the full list of nominees for the 60th Grammy Awards:

Record Of The Year:
“Redbone” – Childish Gambino
“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber
“The Story Of O.J.” – Jay-Z
“HUMBLE.” – Kendrick Lamar
“24K Magic” – Bruno Mars

Album Of The Year:
“Awaken, My Love!” – Childish Gambino
“4:44” –  Jay-Z
“DAMN.” – Kendrick Lamar
“Melodrama” – Lorde
“24K Magic” – Bruno Mars

Song Of The Year:
“Despacito” – Ramón Ayala, Justin Bieber, Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, Erika Ender, Luis Fonsi & Marty James Garton, songwriters (Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber)
“4:44” – Shawn Carter & Dion Wilson, songwriters (Jay-Z)
“Issues” – Benny Blanco, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Julia Michaels & Justin Drew Tranter, songwriters (Julia Michaels)
“1-800-273-8255” – Alessia Caracciolo, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, Arjun Ivatury & Khalid Robinson, songwriters (Logic Featuring Alessia Cara & Khalid)
“That’s What I Like” – Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus & Jonathan Yip, songwriters (Bruno Mars)

Best New Artist:
Alessia Cara
Khalid
Lil Uzi Vert
Julia Michaels
SZA

Best Pop Solo Performance:
“Love So Soft” – Kelly Clarkson
“Praying” – Kesha
“Million Reasons” – Lady Gaga
“What About Us” – P!nk
“Shape Of You” – Ed Sheeran

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:
“Something Just Like This” – The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber
“Thunder” – Imagine Dragons
“Feel It Still” – Portugal. The Man
“Stay” – Zedd & Alessia Cara

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album:
“Nobody But Me (Deluxe Version)” – Michael Bublé
“Triplicate” – Bob Dylan
“In Full Swing” – Seth MacFarlane
“Wonderland” – Sarah McLachlan
“Tony Bennett Celebrates 90” – (Various Artists) Dae Bennett, Producer

Best Pop Vocal Album:
“Kaleidoscope EP” – Coldplay
“Lust For Life” – Lana Del Rey
“Evolve” – Imagine Dragons
“Rainbow” – Kesha
“Joanne” – Lady Gaga
“÷” – Ed Sheeran

Best Dance Recording:
“Bambro Koyo Ganda” – Bonobo Featuring Innov Gnawa
“Cola” – Camelphat & Elderbrook
“Andromeda” – Gorillaz Featuring DRAM
“Tonite” – LCD Soundsystem
“Line Of Sight” – Odesza Featuring WYNNE & Mansionair

Best Dance/Electronic Album:
“Migration” – Bonobo
“3-D The Catalogue” – Kraftwerk
“Mura Masa” – Mura Masa
“A Moment Apart” – Odesza
“What Now” – Sylvan Esso

Best Contemporary Instrumental Album:
“What If” – The Jerry Douglas Band
“Spirit” – Alex Han
“Mount Royal” – Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge
“Prototype” – Jeff Lorber Fusion
“Bad Hombre” – Antonio Sanchez