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Review: How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful - Florence and the Machine

13th June 2015 | Music

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is a tremendously important album for Florence and the Machine. Not only is it the group’s first album in five years, it’s set to be their first No. 1 too. It also marks a change in musical direction. Midway through writing a bizarre concept album about witch trials (of which bonus track ‘Which Witch’ is a leftover), singer Florence Welch was saved from becoming a caricature of herself by producer Marcus Dravs, who returned her to something closer to reality.

The result is a mixed bag. Lead single ‘What Kind of Man’ refines the band’s trademark orchestral and grandiose sound, giving it a tougher rock edge. The title track is also a resounding success, a gracefully melodic anthem that dreamily sets the tone for the album. Here Florence swaps her obsession with harps for a penchant for brass, to dizzying effect on the fanfare that concludes the song. Arranged by Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory, Florence described this instrumental outro as ‘what love feel like to me’ in Rolling Stone. ‘Queen of Peace’ also has an epic orchestral dimension, beginning with trembling woodwind and a hauntingly beautiful trumpet riff, before being swept up by drums and electric guitar.

With a title inspired by the expansiveness of the American skyline, the album offers a sense of space that was largely lacking from previous effort Ceremonials, much of which sounded like it was recorded in a gloomy cathedral. The previous album often proved to be an exhausting listen: almost all of the songs exceeded five minutes and the ‘wall of sound’ approach stopped just sort of being oppressive. Here the songs are considerably shorter, and orchestral flourishes aside, the instrumentation is largely stripped back. ‘St Jude’, a homage to ‘the patron saint of lost causes’,…

Jack Lockyer-Steven's Summer Festival Guide

8th June 2015 | Music

Welcoming... Jack Lockyer-Stevens! He's one of the fresh new faces joining the W!ZARD Radio Station schedule in our latest set of schedule changes, coming this July.

This summer he's travelling around Europe to some of the most exciting festivals that this great continent has to offer. And, better than that, he's taking you on the journey with him!

He's going to be blogging his Summer festival antics on this very blog - giving you the opportunity to find out the best things happening at Europe's biggest festivals.

Here's where you can expect to see him this summer:

Wildlife, Brighton City Airport: Saturday 6 – Sunday 7 June
Northside, Aarhus, Denmark: Friday 12 – Sunday 14 June
Glastonbury Festival: Monday 22 June – Sunday 24 June
Latitude Festival: Thursday 16 July – Sunday 19 July
Secret Garden Party: Wednesday 22 July – Sunday 26 July

Keep checking this blog for updates and posts following Jack's exciting summer...

Interview with Elle Exxe

8th June 2015 | Music

James Gilmore: It’s Sunday, last day of the weekend – what do you usually get up to on Sundays, when you aren’t being interviewed?

Elle Exxe: Normally, on Sundays, I chill or maybe I go and see some friends. My ideal Sunday is having a nice Sunday roast and maybe a big glass of cider and taking it easy. Usually the weekend is quite hard, gigging on Saturday nights, so I just relax on a Sunday.

James Gilmore: You’ve been really busy recently with your music; two singles out now, you’ve been gigging a lot as well. Your image is very bold, it screams creativity to me. Literally, I look at the picture and it SCREAMS and I jump back a little bit!. What vibes do you hope people will catch from you, your music and your style?

Elle Exxe: Well I do like to be bold, I want people to think it’s wild and fearless. Colourful.

James Gilmore: The first single of yours which we caught on our radar was the infectiously pop-electro ‘Lie To Me’ which is really quite minimal and is centred around your voice. Where did the idea for the track come from?

Elle Exxe: I met up with a couple of friends of mine: A guy called Jamie Jazz who’s in a band called ‘Bleach Blood’ and I used to do some gigging with them, and a guy called Sam Eyes. We got in the studio and we started throwing out some ideas, some beats, I started coming up with a riff idea and it did sound very electronic and there was a lot going on but we’ve gradually stripped it back, bent it and moulded it.

James Gilmore: How long does a track like that take to produce?