#Review: Belmont – Reflections (EP)

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Chicago, IL outfit Belmont are about to drop a new EP of tracks they describe as “a collection of new ideas, experimentation and an opportunity to lay down anything we’ve ever wanted to musically”. This make for an interesting prospect for a band who are quite progressive in their approach.

Belmont - Reflections.jpg

I’ve been following the progress of Belmont for a while and really enjoyed their offerings so far. The progressive-punk 5-piece have an appeal for fellow musicians by demonstrating some great technicality in their music, however I always felt they lacked an attraction for a wider audience.

Reflections looks like it’s addressing this. Firstly, there is a good use of synth and samples like those used in the opener ‘By My Side’ and its follow up ‘Deadweight’. This really pulls the tracks towards those big chart hitters you hear when accidently cycling through the radio in the car. If it’s not your thing, it won’t put you off as Belmont incorporate it well into the tracks as it fits nicely with their signature, driving drum lines. ‘Deadweight’ also brings in some quieter sections for the verses which adds to the more radio-friendly appeal – for some reason it reminds me of the likes of Owl City.

The band hasn’t lost any of their progressive nature that they are known for. ‘Back and Forth’ highlights Belmont’s ability to throw you around rhythmically. The fast-changing guitar sections alongside drummer Brian Lada’s ever surprising and chaotic drum fills keep you interested in everything that going on but don’t over power any of the tracks on the EP. This really shows up in ‘Hideout’, which has a beautifully calming verse, but ‘Lada’ can still bring the grooving rhythm without spoiling it.

This EP is a great example of moving a band onto a bigger stage, without losing the essence of what got them there in the first place.

The pop punk vibe shines throughout the EP too. ‘Stay Up’ has that classic, fast-pace feel and gang vocals that are bound to get a crowd up, moving and screaming “Stay Up, Stay Up!”. It’s felt across the EP, with truly catchy chorus lines that really stick with you. It’s not just the catchiness that give it that punk feel, ‘Move Along’ shows Belmont’s pop punk influences further with an awesome verse riff that throw you back to early days of blink-182 and New Found Glory.

Overall, Reflections feels like it’s bridging a gap for Belmont, in connecting with more fans, although I don’t think this was their intention. As they head out on some bigger tours, alongside big hitters like Tiny Moving Parts, this will only put them in great stead to grown their fan base… and deservedly so. This EP is a great example of moving a band onto a bigger stage, without losing the essence of what got them there in the first place.

For fans of: Tiny Moving Parts, Knuckle Puck, Neck Deep.

Rating
4


‘Reflections’ is out 13/03/20 on Pure Noise Records and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/by-my-side/1498675814?i=1498675818


Reflections on Spotify

Coming 13/03/20.

Deadweight (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s latest EP? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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Rob Manhire
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#Review: Four Year Strong – Brain Pain

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Can you believe it’s been almost five years since we’ve had a full release from the boys hailing from Massachusetts?! Four Year Strong helped carved a path for many of our favourite easy-core bands, bringing that fantastic blend of heavy breakdowns and super catchy hooks. The question is, has the wait for the fathers of the genre been worth it?

Four Year Strong - Brain Pain

According to FYS the album has been two years in the making, ensuring that everything was right from initial ideas to production. They have hooked up with producer Will Putney who worked with them on Enemy of the World and this immediately got me excited, as I haven’t really been blow away by much of the band’s work since then. 

You can immediately tell from the first track ‘It’s Cool’ that this is Four Year Strong back at their best. The track comes across as an extended into but I think still is a great song in its own right. Their hardcore influences shine through in the chuggy guitar work and the epic off beat breakdown, but the thing that has been missing with FYS over their last few releases is that signature melodic hook and harmonic vocal. It’s back! The album drips with the super catchy melodic lines right from the off. As well as the intro, tracks such as ‘Talking Myself In Circles’, carry some great vocal work by Day & O’Connor and ‘Learn To Love The Lie’, which I swear just fell straight out of a teen comedy soundtrack from the 2000s, shows that catchiness is there by the bucket load.

The album drips with the super catchy melodic lines right from the off.

The album changes up tempo and feel a bit as it goes into title track ‘Brain Pain’ which starts with a slow trudge towards a classic super-fast pop-punk chorus. In places FYS have gone pretty heavy from what we are used to seeing. This comes through in a few ways. Firstly, the production values on the drums which have that stadium reverberation feel that you usually find on much heavier albums. Secondly the harmonic riff work from the guitars which is found across the whole record but most notably in this track and ‘The Worst Part Of Me’. Thirdly the breakdowns are quite brutal (in context of FYS) but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is very much a pop-punk album at heart.

Tracks such as ‘Mouth Full Of Dirt’ and ‘Seventeen’ encapsulate this perfectly with FYS’ classic blend of upbeat, major key progressions underpinned by some heavy riff work on the guitars. There is also a lot of dynamic shifts with these tracks which help to keep you interested between those catchy choruses, jumping into half time drum breaks such as those found in ‘Usefully Useless’. The album ends with ‘Young At Heart’ which in itself is a big dynamic change up from the rest of the album. We’ve heard a lot of bands do this. Lots of layering of delayed guitars, synth and keeping it nice a slow leading into an epic ending. On first listen, it felt out of place, but after getting used to the album as a whole, it actually rounds it of well and makes it feel like a complete record rather than an assortment of ideas.

If there was one weakness in the record, it’s perhaps the lyric writing. Aside from ‘Be Good When I’m Gone’, which is a nice ballad and really adds to the dynamic tempo of the album, it all feels a bit generic. Some might argue that pop-punk has moved on a bit from this, but that’s never been the point with FYS, or any bands in this style. It’s about writing catchy, positively aggressive tunes that make you want to kick the windows out of your car during a long summer road trip with your mates, so everyone can get in on the action.

Brain Pain is set for release 28th February 2020 on Pure Noise Records.

Rating
4


‘Brain Pain’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/brain-pain/1490648897


Brain Pain on Spotify

Coming 28/02/20.

Talking Myself In Circles (Official Music Video)

Learn To Love The Lie [Official Music Video]


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s latest album? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

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Rob Manhire
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#FeelGoodFriday: KOOLKID – ‘Feelings’

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Scottish singer-songwriter, KOOLKID, has just released his captivating new single, ‘Feelings’, written by KOOLKID himself, alongside Lewis Gardiner (ex-drummer of Scottish band, Prides).

The single is a soaring, modern pop ballad which flaunts KOOLKID’s emotion-drenched vocals with engrossing, forward-thinking production.

“Falling in love with someone who is already in a relationship is never a good thing. ‘Feelings’ is an upbeat pop anthem that is sure to make you reminisce being in this situation,” says KOOLKID. “You know you have certain feelings, but you only want to feel them with that one person, but you can’t. I feel like we can all relate to being in this situation at one point in our lives. I have and that is why I wrote this song.”

The singer hails from Glasgow in Scotland, where he was surrounded by live music from a young age. Since the age of 15, he has been building his musical identity with constant songwriting efforts, as well as cutting his teeth with live performances up and down the UK.

An accomplished songwriter, KOOLKID has penned tracks for some prominent pop acts, including K-Pop icons BTS. The Scotsman co-wrote ‘Mikrokosmos’ from the group’s chart-topping EP, Map of the Soul: Persona. The relationship between KOOLKID and BTS looks set to continue with future releases in the pipeline!

This latest single sees one of the UK’s most exciting, up-and-coming young artists continue to leave his mark in the contemporary music market.

What are your thoughts of this singer-songwriter? Got a #MellowMonday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks


‘Feelings’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/feelings-single/1493801876


#ThrowbackThursday: Gabrielle – ‘Rise’

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Soulful singer and songwriter, Gabrielle, relesed her single, ‘Rise’ in January 2000. The song (written by Gabrielle, Ollie Dagois and Ferdy Unger-Hamilton and produced by Jonny Dollar), was the second single to be taken from her third, studio album of the same title, Rise.

The track became notable for the rare, authorised use of a Bob Dylan sample (taken from his 1973-song ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’. Apparently, Dylan liked ‘Rise’ so much, that he allowed Gabrielle to use the sample for free, while receiving a co-writer credit for providing the song’s chord progression and vocal sample.

The song reached number one on the UK Singles Chart and stayed there for two weeks, acroos January and February 2000, becoming her second chart-topper.

This is such a soulful song that for the era of mainstream pop, it actually stood out quite significantly for her different vibe, making her stand out as an artist in that era. Subsequently, this track has a rather timeless feel to it.

The music video (Directed by Kevin Godley) sees the singer singing whilst spectating at a boxing match – a nice visual metaphor to accompany the song.

What are your thoughts of this soulful singer’s 2000 hit? Are you still a fan 20 years on? Do you have a #ThrowbackThursday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Rise’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/rise/1440911935?i=1440911940


#Review: Zebrahead @ Patterns, Brighton – 18/01/20

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On Saturday 18th January 2020, Zebrahead arrived in Brighton to perform the first of three, intimate UK shows, whilst on a break from their tour with Sum 41. The band were supported by Welsh rock band, Maddison. Here’s what we had to say about the show…


Maddison

Welsh rockers, Maddison, put on one hell of a show with their heavy guitars, powerful vocals and superb production (with some pretty epic backing tracks, which truly added to the atmosphere).

Their sound is massive – it’s stadium metal meets melodic rock and their onstage chemistry radiates throughout their performance.

The only criticism is that their onstage banter sometimes became tricky to hear when they talked over each other. Other than that, despite not knowing any of their songs, I thoroughly enjoyed their set.

Highlight: It would have to be the incredible use of backing tracks to create a wonderfully full sound – a real quality production.


Zebrahead

As always, Zebrahead arrived on stage to an epic intro – this time it was the Team America theme song – before bursting into their first song, ‘All My Friends Are Nobodies’.

Despite the venue being smaller than some they might be used to, the band used the space to their full advantage. They worked the crowd into a frenzy by performing a string of their hits – both old and new – and getting everyone in the place involved!

They certainly know how to have a good time too – the band have a pair of guitar techs who dress up as aliens and come on stage intermittently, getting involved in a variety of hilarious antics – from doing a drinking competition between the two of them, to one of them crowd-surfing on a giant rubber ring (as can be seen in the ‘Hello Tomorrow’ live video below). Possibly the most fun part of their set though, was their cover of ‘Baby Shark’ but changed to ‘Let’s Do Shots, during which the aliens passed shots around the band (see the video below).

The band members are tight – their performance is strong, well-timed and they clearly have a great relationship on stage – the chemistry between them is light-hearted and jokey and they just look like they’re having the best time.

If you haven’t had the chance to see Zebrahead live yet, then frankly you haven’t lived yet – they always deliver a high-energy show and regardless of whether you know many of their songs or not, they never fail to get the audience involved.

Zebrahead are a must-see!

Highlights:

  • During one song, Ali asked the crowd to see how many people they could get crowd-surfing during one song – security did not look happy, but it was manic and hilarious.
  • During ‘Worse Than This’, the band brought up two people in the crowd to try and out-drink each other, causing chaos on stage, followed by getting the pair to stage dive off the stage, after the song.
  • ‘Let’s Do Shots’ (‘Baby Shark’ cover)…enough said!
  • The aliens’ antics were pretty funny – in particular the crowd-surfing on the rubber ring.
  • Ali’s powerful scream/rapping is incredible to witness live and Matty (although sometimes not always pitch-perfect) has a great live vocal too.
  • Dan’s moustache!
  • The way the band include the audience and get a real crowd interaction going means that whether you know their material or not, you will always feel swept-up and included at one of their shows.

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 📸 All of the photos in this post are credited to Elliot McRae  📷
Please go and give him a follow on Twitter and Instagram.


 Setlist

All My Friends Are Nobodies
Call Your Friends
The Perfect Crime
Drink Drink
Save Your Breath
We’re Not Alright
Mike Dexter
Seven Nation Army / Wake Me Up
Sirens
Worse Than This*
Hell Yeah!
When Both Sides Suck
Hello Tomorrow*
Let’s Do Shots (Baby Shark)*
Keep It To Myself
Rescue Me*
Party Party

Encore
Falling Apart
Anthem*

These songs can be viewed in the YouTube playlist, below.


Finally, I want to say a massive thanks to Zebrahead and Maddison for putting on a killer show, and to Lout Promotions for enabling the review to happen!


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other live reviews here:

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: The Darkness @ Brighton Dome, Brighton – 10/12/19

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On Tuesday 10th December 2019, The Darkness brought their Easter Is Cancelled Tour to Brighton Dome! The event was packed with people and full of fun, with support from Rews. Here’s what we have to say about the event…


Rews

This duo (accompanied by a drummer) are a riotous, girl-powered pair that are unafraid to pack a punch! For just three instruments and a butt-load of distortion, they sure bring about a lot of noise – they kind of reminded me of a more serious, angry-sounding Pink Slip (remember them from Disney’s remake of Freaky Friday, with Lindsay Lohan?!) Although they’re quite the raucous act, the vocal harmonies between them are nothing short of immense and clearly must have been rehearsed for hours! The bassist is full of charisma too, working the stage with conviction, at times, capturing the most attention. An interesting act with some fairly catchy tunes – they made for a good support.

Highlight: The vocal harmonies – honestly, they were awesome!

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The Darkness

As The Darkness took to the stage, dressed all in white, the crowd errupted with excitement, to see the rock band strike out the first notes of Easter Is Cancelled‘s opening track, ‘Rock And Roll Deserves To Die’. After a couple of songs, Justin explained that on this tour, the band were playing the entirety of their latest album, from start to finish, before doing a selection of their greatest hits…and it was awesome! He made a joke about people only coming for their Christmas single or their older songs but people were lapping it all up – both the new and old material.

If you haven’t already heard it, their latest record (Easter Is Cancelled) is great – it’s packed with the usual The Darkness lyrical wit, falsetto vocals, incredible musicianship and powerful rock anthems and is probably one of their best albums in recent years – so it was amazing to be able to see it all performed live.

The stage set was visually stunning too – with three, church window-shaped screens, surrounded by flashing lights, the backdrop for each song was unique, diverse and sometimes just outright bonkers (think cartoon dancing cows moshing!)

After finishing the run-through of their latest album, the band retired for a very quick costume change, before coming back to perform an array of their back catalogue, to much enthusiasm from the crowd. They performed a selection of tracks from nearly all their albums, from ‘Japanese Prisoner of Love’ and ‘Solid Gold’ (from 2017’s Pinewood Smile) to ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ (from their 2003 debut, Permission To Land).

It didn’t matter whether they were playing new or old material, people were singing along with every word, jumping around and having the best time! They perform with high energy, good humour and flawlessness, ensuring their audience come away from the show feeling euphoric. The Darkness are a lot of fun to watch live and whether you know all their songs or not, you are guaranteed to have the best night with them – I really can’t recommend them highly enough!

Highlights:

  • Justin‘s live vocals are powerful and flawless, whilst his charisma oozes with dry humour and a stage presence like no other.
  • The band themselves perform to perfection with impeccable professionalism and high energy and their individual talent for each of their instruments is spell-binding.
  • Justin doing a headstand in front of the kick drum during a song, before casually returning to the microphone to finish the song, was pretty damn impressive!
  • There was one point that someone did something to make Justin laugh at the start of a song, which was touching to see.
  • During the set, Justin brought up that it was Dan‘s birthday coming up and the audience spontaneously burst out with a round of ‘Happy Birthday’ which Justin then led into ‘For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow’.
  • The ad-libs between songs, like a funky riff and vocal melody Justin bust out with before ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ (in the video below) and some of the between-song banter is pretty amusing.
  • I just highly recommend watching them live – already, I would love to see them again!

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📷 All of the photos in this post are credited to Damon Peirce  📸
Why not give him a follow on Instagram and Twitter or check out his website.


 Setlist

Easter Is Cancelled
Rock And Roll Deserves To Die*
How Can I Lose Your Love
Live ‘Til I Die
Heart Explodes
Deck Chair
Easter Is Cancelled
Heavy Metal Lover
In Another Life
Choke On It
We Are The Guitar Men

Greatest Hits
One Way Ticket*
Barbarian
Growing On Me*
Japanese Prisoner Of Love
Love Is Only A Feeling
Solid Gold
Givin’ Up*
Street Spirit (Fade Out)
Get Your Hands Off My Woman
I Believe In A Thing Called Love*

Encore
Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)*

These songs can be viewed in the YouTube playlist, below.


Finally, I want to say a massive thanks to The Darkness and Rews for putting on a great show as well as Warren and Charleigh from Chuff Media for enabling this review to happen.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other live reviews here:

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#FeelGoodFriday: Midnight Skies – ‘Falling Apart’

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When Matt emailed me to say we had some Pop-Punk to review, I was on it like skaters on a freshly waxed library fire escape. Anyone who knows me, knows I love Pop-Punk and I’ve ruined a fair few Spotify algorithms whilst DJing in the passenger seat, to prove the point (sorry Allen!). Here’s what we had to make of ‘Falling Apart’ from Pop-Punkers Midnight Skies

‘Falling Apart’ is the third single from Seattle’s Midnight Skies. The trio only formed in the summer of 2018 but have been steadily releasing content and building a decent following in that time. As always, the Pop-Punk scene is awash with bands claiming “energetic live shows”, “fun-loving” and “always up for a party” but at the end of the day, good tracks in this genre need three things and this review is broken down across such things:

Thing #1It needs to be “short and sweet” – and unfortunately ‘Falling Apart’ is a full 4 minutes long. Now it would be wrong to judge purely on the length of a song but it doesn’t feel like the track uses the time well. This single could have easily ended prior to its middle 8 and no one would have noticed, but the change of pace here is welcome and worth the wait. The song then classically falls back into its chorus, as it should, but rather than ending here, there is a 30-second outro that dampens the energy of the song by drawing it out for too long. It feels like the band are trying to crowbar in all the features we enjoy in a good Pop-Punk song, some of which really work, others not so much.

Thing #2It’s gotta be catchy! All great Pop-Punk anthems have great hooks and this is no exception. The chorus has a great melodic and lyrical hook which I haven’t stopped humming around the house since my first listen. Its initial repetitiveness, followed by the falling melody with the title lyrics bring memories back to classics from Hit The Lights and Forever The Sickest Kids, leaning slightly more towards the pop than punk element of the genre. This also comes through in the production of the track, which contains many effects across the track, especially on the vocals. Personally, I have never been a big fan of this, but I know some will love it!

Finally Thing #3Does it get the party started? Absolutely! It’s definitely a track that will at least get your head nodding, but stick it on at a party and I think it would get people dancing. Mostly this is down to the driving rhythm and the use of the double snare hits on the drums that give the track a lot of pace. This only relents within that middle 8 section which slows the pace down and adds some nice dynamics to the track.

Overall, this is a good track but it struggles to stand out in an already dominated field. However, if you saw these guys live and heard this track, you would remember it and hearing it again would send you back to a good night out. It feels like a blank canvas ready for you to attach your own good times and every time you put it on, I hope it would cast you back to a good night out with friends.

For Fans Of:
Forever The Sickest Kids, All Time Low, The Summer Set

3

What are your thoughts of this Pop-Punk band? Do you have a #FeelGoodFriday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via our social media.

Rob Manhire
http://www.twitter.com/RobManhire
http://www.instagram.com/robmanhire


‘Falling Apart’ is out on We Are Triumphant and can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/falling-apart/1485448144?i=1485448820