Sunday, 3 July 2011

Google +1, competition 0

Earlier this week, Google's new social networking project, Google+, launched in a limited public beta. With the intention of making it easier for users to share content on the web, Google has made a small number of Google+ features available to testers. As expected, the main focus is a stream of content shared by people you have added to your network. Posts are ordered in terms of recent activity, so if someone makes a new comment on a post you made last Tuesday, it'll go to the top of the stream. This is handy, yet it could lead to newer posts without replies simply getting buried and going entirely unnoticed.

Google+ is built around Circles, which are lists of contacts. You can choose to share content with specific people, one or more of your circles, or just make it totally public. A lot of praise has been heaped upon this feature, yet many have overlooked the fact that customisable friend lists have been a part of Facebook for a good few years. Nevertheless, the transparency of privacy controls that the Circles concept perpetuates is likely to garner a lot of support for Google+.

Instead of being able to "Like" posts, you can "+1" them. This feature is available for content on both Google+ and other websites. While Google's interesting grammatical choices may upset some people, the feature in its current form is hardly groundbreaking. As well as this, the search giant has managed to incorporate a glorified search engine into Google+, Sparks, which allows users to look for things they are interested in and returns a chronologically ordered collection of results.

One of the more novel features is the ability to create a Hangout. This is Google's term for video conference calling, which can be limited to specific Circles. Multiple people can participate in a video call, a clear advantage over Skype, which only provides one-to-one video chat for free. Text-based conversations via Google Chat are integrated into the Hangout. Text chat is also available on its own, but is nowhere near as exciting. In addition, Youtube integration allowing users to select a video to be played to everyone in the hangout has been implemented. On the surface, this may seem somewhat frivolous, yet it adds a more natural dimension to conversations and really does make it seem like you're just hanging out with your friends, despite not being in the same geographical location. While testing out a Hangout, we did experience a few technical issues, but even those with slower Internet connections were able to participate without too much disruption. Refinements such as allowing a queue of videos to be made and providing an option for voice to be transmitted continuously while watching videos ought to be put into place, but there is still a strong case for people moving over to Google+ simply for the group video chat.

Hanging out like a pro
Hanging out like a pro

At this stage, it is difficult to say whether or not Google has a chance of overtaking its rivals in the social networking market; Google+ currently lacks a number of features and it is not clear if these will be accounted for in later releases. For a beta, this is a compelling service and the potential for integration with other Google services will probably give Google an edge over the competition.

Try it out, if you have a Google account.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


Lack of updates is due to coursework deadlines, gotta love being a CS student. More fun stuff will appear here in the near future. For now:
- Check out my review of Young Knives' new album on Intuition
- I went to see Saves The Day in London and I have a couple of phone photos that weren't too bad, so I'll fix them up and put them online soon.
- ...and finally, here is a silly thing I found.

Take your top 50 artists. For each of these artists, collect the top 20 similar artists (where the artist itself is the #1 most similar). The resulting number of unique artists is your super-eclectic score. You can compute your own score at

My super-eclectic score is currently


The most similar artists for my profile are Funeral for a Friend (7), Finch (6), Kasabian (6), Yourcodenameis:milo (5), The Early November (5), The Futureheads (5), Taking Back Sunday (5), The Starting Line (5), Glassjaw (5), Franz Ferdinand (4)

I don't actually listen to about four of those bands, so it's interesting that I have multiple artists that are similar to them!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Ragfest 2011

On 26th March, Bristol LiveSoc and Bristol RAG co-hosted the second annual Ragfest, a night of live music in aid of charity. I was there with UBU Photosoc Events Team getting the whole thing captured on camera. There were two stages across the main Anson Room and Ar2 in the University of Bristol Students' Union, so I was flitting back and forth trying to make sure I got enough pictures of each act. Rather than rambling on, I'll cut straight to the pictures! Many more here.


The End Effect


Max Parker

Kill Cassidy

Jim Horne, Publicity Stunt

Greg Walton, Publicity Stunt

Calm Down Caesar

The Goodness

The Lasting Days

The Phoenix and the Turtle

Mary Spender

Indigo Lights

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Publicity Stunt

It's been a while since my last photo post, mostly because I haven't uploaded anything to Flickr for some time. So here, have a massive update!

Some friends of mine are in a ska band, Publicity Stunt. They played their first couple of shows at The Hill recently and I was there taking photos.

I took more on both nights. Publicity Stunt will be playing more gigs in the near future, so I'll keep you updated on that.

Coming up in the next week or so, photos from Ragfest!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Does It Offend You, Yeah? – Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

The second album from electronic quintet Does It Offend You, Yeah? is a bizarre experimental affair that doesn’t quite hit the mark. Lead single ‘We are the Dead’ is promising, yet the abstract tribal vocals don’t add anything to the pulsing synth melody. The acoustic intro feels forced, completely at odds to the rest of the song. The chaotic ‘John Hurt’ includes an entirely out of place sample, which is a real shame as the song is otherwise one of the best tracks on the album.

It becomes increasingly clear throughout the record that DIOYY have simply tried to do too much; instead of subtly pushing boundaries, the band have run riot and caused a fair amount of musical destruction. ‘Yeah!’ is an incredibly out-of-tune sounding Pendulum-esque mess. There are a couple of more alt-rock tracks, ‘Pull Out My Insides’ and ‘Wrong Time Wrong Planet’ which aren’t bad at all, but just fail to fit in with the rest of the album. ‘Wrestler’ is a slap in the face vocally and would have worked much better as an instrumental track.

A guest appearance from Trip on ‘Wondering’ is very different to what one would expect from DIOYY but works well with the blistering electronic bass. The chorus is a bit of a let-down due to the cutesy vocals though. The album closes with ‘Broken Arms’, a curious melange of acoustic and electronic that doesn’t meld well, leaving the listener with a distinctly unsettled impression. ‘Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You’ is a mash-up of too many genres; the variety is simply strained rather than welcoming. This is just too weird to get into even after multiple listens, but it has some interesting moments.

Lady Gaga, Everything Everything, Panic! at the Disco singles

A few single reviews for you this week...

Lady Gaga – Born This Way
Lady Gaga is back with a classic pop track that is a more generic outing, lacking the quirky shimmer of previous singles. However, ‘Born This Way’ is sure to be a massive hit and an instant floor-filler, deservedly so.

Everything Everything – Final Form
This low key single is well-composed, with delicate layers of vocals and subtle electronic melody. ‘Final Form’ isn’t the most accessible of songs, yet it shows off Everything Everything at their best.

Panic! At The Disco – The Ballad of Mona Lisa
Following the departure of half the band members, Panic! At The Disco have finally regrouped and return with an excellent new track. The folky Beatles sound of previous album ‘Pretty. Odd.’ has fortunately vanished and the loss of primary lyricist Ryan Ross hasn’t impacted the band’s ability to come up with original, memorable music at all. ‘The Ballad of Mona Lisa’ matches the creepy cabaret atmosphere of first album ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’ with Fall Out Boy style pop rock to make a track that has definitely been worth the wait.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Dinosaur Pile-Up – My Rock ‘n’ Roll

Dinosaur Pile-Up – My Rock ‘n’ Roll

This grunge-tinged track is a winner, matching a chaotic breakdown with fun vocal harmonies. This has all the ingredients to do well in the mainstream, yet is still undeniably rock music.

I interviewed the band ahead of their show at Bristol O2 Academy last week and I will be playing the interview on my radio show on Monday at 3pm, so make sure you listen online!

Twin Atlantic – Edit Me

Twin Atlantic – Edit Me

The storming new single from Scottish rockers Twin Atlantic is a high-powered affair, more hard-hitting than their previous singles. Definitely a sign that the new album is likely to be just as good.

Call the Doctor – Take It Out

Call the Doctor – Take It Out

Featuring understated sultry vocals, this post-punk single could do with a bit more vitality to give it that extra kick. The instrumental parts are more infused with energy, which doesn’t match up with the vocals. Worth listening to, but definitely leaves you wanting a bit more. B-side ‘Gregory, You’re a Star’ has the punk edge that ‘Take It Out’ lacks, and would work well in a live setting.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Studio Time

Alex gave a group of us a tutorial on studio lighting last week.

Jamie with an umbrella. Since some of the studio kit is a bit dodgy, we didn't have a stand for this umbrella and used it as a prop instead.

Tom poses with his beloved headphones.

Photosoc's Film Guru Ben loads some film.

Tom lit from the side. I'd quite like to have a play with different lighting setups minus a studio backdrop, more similar to this shot.

Ben checks some negatives after returning from a darkroom session. Unfortunately we only had one working trigger, so with four of us trying to take photos against the backdrop I decided to take some from other angles.

With about ten minutes to go before the end of the room booking, Mikey appeared with some props for band photos. I took a few of him and Jamie for their electronic project, Lad Neutral. This one is for Mikey's solo act, asinglebiteofcherry.

There are many more (including some with a ladder that had been abandoned in the room we were using) here.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

You Me at Six ft Chiddy - Rescue Me

You Me at Six ft Chiddy - Rescue Me

This single sees the Surrey five-piece lose a little of the punk attitude and energy that made their debut album stand out, but shows they definitely have the talent to compose unique pop songs. The unexpected collaboration with Chiddy shows that You Me at Six aren’t one trick ponies, yet this Airplanes-esque track certainly isn’t groundbreaking.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Roma, January 2011: Part 2

I've uploaded all my photos from Rome now!

Here are a few pictures:

Light trails!

A rather grand building which we stumbled across.

A wall in the Roman Forum.

A flock of starlings.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Belle and Sebastian – I Want the World to Stop

Belle and Sebastian – I Want the World to Stop

The breezily melancholy new single from indie titans Belle and Sebastian is lifted from the band’s eighth studio album. Catchy as ever, the strong vocal line is supported by gentle backing singing. The band maintain their high standards of musicianship with the inclusion of a variety of instruments, pushing the boundaries of pop in their own understated way.

Release date: 28th February 2011

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Roma, January 2011: Part 1

Bonsoir, all! I recently visited Rome with UOB Photosoc, where we spent four glorious days in the sunnier climes of Italy, traipsing around the capital with too many cameras about our personage (there is a curious law which states that only a maximum of two cameras can be brought into the country, yet this was flouted by various members of our group to no ill outcome).

With a wonderful 3am start - yes, I do mean that in the most sarcastic manner possible - we left a rather chilly Bristol and arrived in Rome in great need of sleep. Unfortunately we were instead treated to an hour's wait as poor Ceilidh's luggage managed to get trapped in the depths of the conveyor belt system. The remainder of the first day was spent sourcing lunch, coffee and dinner, leaving very little time for photo opportunities.

On the second day, we went on a walk around areas including Piazza di Spagna, led by the only non-Photosoc member on the trip, the brilliant Keith - without him, we would doubtless have been utterly lost and you'd only be looking at photographs of the inside of a hostel.

View from the Spanish Steps.

Building patterns.

More here. I will be updating the set over the next couple of weeks, so do check back.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Architects - The Here and Now

Architects - The Here and Now
A version of this review appeared in Epigram's 24th January issue

Brighton metallers Architects kick off 2011 with an incendiary fourth album, ‘The Here And Now’. The band have pushed boundaries even further than on 2009’s ‘Hollow Crown’, with first single ‘Day In Day Out’ leading the charge. Right from the start, it is clear that vocalist Sam Carter has developed his technique admirably, effortlessly switching between brutal growls and clean vocals. Album highlight ‘BTN’ opens with a relentless guitar intro and features a stunning level of talent from drummer Dan Searle. Guest spots from Comeback Kid’s Andrew Neufeld and The Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist Greg Puciato add an extra kick to two of the heavier tracks.

Carter noted that this was the first time the lyrics were completed before the band went into the studio and this is especially evident from the sincerity of ‘An Open Letter To Myself’. The atmospheric distorted guitar lines of ‘Red Eyes’ are reminiscent of Thrice and the vocals on this song are particularly outstanding.

The heavy metal sensibilities of Architects’ previous albums are still very much a focal point of their music and the abundance of milder moments on this record should only be seen as a step to the band becoming an established name in rock. ‘The Here And Now’ far surpasses anything Architects have done before.

Check them out here.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Albums of 2010

Album of the year review is up on Intuition! (Vampire Weekend's Contra)

I did intend to do a proper write up of 2010, but I think I should probably just leave you with my top 10 artists of last year, as told by

1 Brand New - Didn't release anything new last year...stunning band though.

2 Funeral for a Friend - The Young and Defenceless EP was out in September. Their new album should be released this side of 2011, go and pledge for it!

3 Lostprophets - Fourth album The Betrayed was released in 2010 and wasn't bad at all. My personal Lostprophets highlight of the year had to be seeing them live - something I had been waiting for since first hearing Shinobi vs Dragon Ninja back in 2002.

4 Reuben - They broke up ages ago, but I purchased the rarities collection, We Should Have Gone To University, since Banquet Records were out of Glassjaw albums.

5 Saves the Day - No new material released in 2010, but the new album is set for a 2011 release. Very much looking forward to this.

6 Alexisonfire - The Dog's Blood EP was a cracking return to the scene for Alexisonfire, pushing the boundaries of their previous material.

7 Britney Spears - Another Britney Greatest Hits compilation was produced, with a brand new track, 3, released as a single. That was a strange one, not quite up to the standard of Circus. The reason for her appearing high on my list is probably nothing to do with 3, and more to do with repeated listening of this playlist.

8 Senses Fail - Their new album was out towards the end of 2010 and I still haven't heard it. Nevertheless, I had their old material on a lot last year.

9 Thrice - Amazing band, nothing new released in 2010 but I had Deadbolt on repeat. That little piano outro just offsets the chaos wonderfully.

10 Gallows - Nobody knows if there will be any new Gallows material in the near future, but we can keep our fingers crossed. I managed to miss out on seeing this lot at The Peel once again, as poor Steph was unwell and the show had to be postponed...and of course I was back in Bristol by that time!

Clearly my 2010 was a little stuck in the past...