#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.
  • 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.


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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


#Review: MUNA @ Concorde 2, Brighton – 02/12/19

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On Monday 2nd December 2019, MUNA arrived in Brighton to perform the first date of their Saves The World Tour – their first ever headline UK tour. They band were supported by Fake Laugh. Here’s what we had to say about the incredible evening…


Fake Laugh

Armed with a fellow band member and a laptop of backing tracks, it’s incredible how Kamran Khan (aka Fake Laugh) creates such a full sound – as if he had an entire band with him. The set was filled with original tracks that could easily sit well in an American teen drama (think maybe The O.C.?!) due to his interesting brand of dreamy indie-pop. That said, he also pulled out a couple of excellent, more rocky guitar riffs that added another interesting depth to the set. Although he is somewhat awkward with his crowd interactions, that doesn’t stop him from getting the crowd moving.

Highlight: There was one particular song towards the end of the set, which I don’t believe is online, but the guitar riff and melody, paired with Kamran’s smooth vocal, was a tremendous thing to watch and dance to.


MUNA

Following a beautiful, instrumental intro, MUNA took to the stage and launched straight into ‘Number One Fan’ to rapturous applause from the crowd! They proceeded to play a string of songs, both old and new, from their debut (About U) and sophomore (Saves The World) albums.

Their Saves The World Tour marks the first headline, UK tour for the band and the Brighton show was their first date of the tour. To say the set was outstanding would be an understatement – the band really were jaw-droppingly brilliant, from their tight performance and engaging stage presence to Katie’s incredible, powerful vocals and they played to a room filled with nothing but love!

It doesn’t matter if you are a massive MUNA fan and know all the words to every one of their songs, or if you are new to them, because the vibes from both the band and the crowd are electric and every single person is able to feel welcome, accepted and a part of something special.

The relationship between the trio is genuine and packed with honest banter – at one point Katie made a small mistake and the others joked with her about it openly to the crowd but it was all taken in good fun and the audience found it hilarious too.

What possibly struck me most about seeing this band perform is the live interpretations of their tracks and just how genre-bending they really are! On some songs you can hear an almost country twinge to their style whilst on others they rock out, with one track even having a metal-style moment to it, which sent the crowd cheering. However at their core, this band are still a dark pop powerhouse with an 80s throwback feel to them.

Whether you’re a long-time MUNA fan or only just hearing about them, I cannot recommend highly enough, to try and catch them live – they will not disappoint and you will not stop moving throughout their entire set!

Highlights:

  • The stunning vocal performance from Katie (Gavin) throughout was breath-taking!
  • The chemistry between the trio (and their touring drummer and bassist) was electric – their actual performance was impeccable too!
  • The energy coming from the band was reflected throughout the crowd, filling the room with love, excitement and a truly euphoric energy.
  • The undertones of various genres being blended together, makes the band a real pleasure to watch – and as Naomi even said at one point, she “really believes [they] are the best f**king band in the world!”
  • It was a really nice touch that the band requested the venue make their toilets gender neutral for the event, to ensure everyone feels comfortable – a really caring touch for their very diverse fanbase.

 📸 All of the photos of MUNA are credited to Chloe Hashemi 📷
Go and give her a follow on Instagram and Twitter, and visit her website.


 Setlist

Number One Fan*
Stayaway
Crying On The Bathroom Floor
Around U
Never
Navy Blue
Everything
Winterbreak
Taken
Pink Light
Good News (Ya-Ya Song)
Hands Off
Loudspeaker*
I Know A Place*
It’s Gonna Be Okay, Baby

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


Finally, I want to say massive thanks to xyz and also Chloe Hashemi for her incredible live photos of the show!


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

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#FeelGoodFriday: Steve Aoki & Darren Criss – ‘Crash Into Me’

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Steve Aoki is known for being an incredible musician, DJ and producer, for having worked with countless incredible artists and for his unique brand of EDM music. Darren Criss is known for his acting and singing talents in Glee and for portraying Andrew Cunanan in the second series of American Crime Story. But, together they have created this incredibly catchy, upbeat and all-round feel-good version of Dave Matthews Band‘s classic track, ‘Crash Into Me’.

23 years after the original release of the song, the pair have created a rather unlikely cover that just works so well! They have beautifully blended real instruments (acoustic guitar) with some incredible dance elements, Darren Criss‘ smooth, pop vocals plus one hell of sick drop, to turn this ballad into an EDM powerhouse of a track that is just all-out, unapologetic fun.

It certainly isn’t an obvious choice of cover but the pair have made a song that I just can’t get enough of – put it on, turn it up and just enjoy every moment of it.

Check out the quirky, yet rather funny video (below) too – the animation is pretty hilarious!

What are your thoughts of this EDM cover of Dave Matthews Band’s classic track? Do you have a #FeelGoodFriday 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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‘Crash Into Me’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/crash-into-me-single/1472425666


#Review: Pick It Up – Ska in the 90s

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Following the success of his previous feature documentary (Here’s to Life: The Story of the Refreshments), director, Taylor Morden – an on-and-off trumpet player in ska bands for over 20 years – has returned to the world of ska to help bring the story of 90s ska to the masses. With a very successful Kickstarter campaign, the documentary took full flight and could not have been better produced, more thorough or more interesting to watch. Here’s what we had to say about it…

Pick It Up! Cover

From the very start, there are some wonderful aspects to this film, that instantly jump out at the viewer. Firstly, there is the fantastic animation weaving its way seemlessly throughout the documentary – some of it flows over footage of the various interviewees and other sections are entirely animated – but it all works so well! Secondly, is the truly amazing cast of stars from the genre, talking about their experiences with anecdotes and opinions that  they lived through during the ska scene in the 90s. Lastly, is the fact that the film is entirely narrated by Tim Armstrong (best known as the singer/guitarist for the punk rock band Rancid, and before that, the ska band, Operation Ivy – considered instrumental for the genre, despite only ever releasing one album).

But, what is ska?
Well, a lot of the cast of the film, brilliantly sum it up as “fast reggae with horns”.

Near the beginning of the film, we’re treated to a journey through the origins of ska, back in the 1950s, with a beautifully descriptive piece about what nights of ska music would have been like in its native Jamaica and then how it made its way over to the UK, settling in places like Brixton, Notting Hill and Coventry and on from there. This whole segment is accompanied by that wonderful animation, to bring it to life. It’s also interesting to know that reggae music actually wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for ska music being slowed down, and that also two-tone and ska punk both found their origins in ska.

This is a truly engaging film that is easy yet interesting to watch. It’s split into sections, looking at specific aspects of the genre like “skanking” (the very limb-orientated dance); the horn section (in particular, how in magazine photos they would often hold their horns to show it’s a ska band); and the DIY ethic of the genre – from posters to merchandise, bands would do pretty much everything themselves, such as designing logos, posters for shows and more, as cheaply as possible.

It’s fascinating that many consider 90s ska to have been brought to the forefront of the mainstream market due to No Doubt signing to a major label (Interscope Records) and releasing their hit album, Tragic Kingdom – which interestingly wasn’t very ska in style but due to their roots in the genre, helped highlight it to the masses.

I can’t recommend this documentary highly enough – whether you’re into ska or not, if you’re interested in music, this is a film you can learn a lot from.

We also learn that others had a big impact on the genre – Goldfinger were entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for playing 385 gigs in a single year; The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ made an appearance in the cult movie, Clueless; and the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games introduced ska to a new generation too.

The film looks further into the “ska scene” and how instrumental live shows were, not only for bands and their friendships but the fans and creating shared experiences too. Additionally, despite touring extensively, money for ska bands was often in short supply due to the number of members in a band, but often small indie labels would release compilation CDs to showcase some of their band’s best work, to generate further interest in them. A lot of these smaller indie labels would operate as mail order services.

One of the most postive and interesting things about ska is the unity within the genre – black and white people would work in bands together, in harmony, so if anyone demonstrated any racism at shows, bands wouldn’t stand for it, however fights would frequently break out at shows as a result. This is one of the main reasons that the black and white checkers became a thing of ska. Also, there are a fair few women in genre and they address how these women would often have to hold their own with their strong characters and no-nonsense attitudes.

Unfortunately, by the turn of the millennium, as major labels had almost made ska a parody of itself, the ska bubble burst and the scene had become saturated with similar bands. As a result, people started to turn their backs to it and bands themselves started adapting to new sounds and dropping their horn sections.

There will always be a subculture for ska – just like with punk rock – but it’s not as mainstream as it was in the 90s. However, there is a bit of nostalgia resurge for ska at the moment (as well as 90s music in general), so whilst bands like Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish are making new music ,they have a lot of fans reliving their youths by coming to shows. That said, across Mexico, Japan and Europe there is still a lot of love for ska and there’s hope for a ska revival in the near future, as the world could use some positivity right now.

I can’t recommend this documentary highly enough – whilst I like ska, it’s not a genre I know tons about but whether you’re into it or not, if you’re interested in music, this is a film you can learn a lot from, not only about the genre and it’s origins but from first-hand accounts of the scene during the 1990s, in an engaging and humourous way. Plus, you actually find yourself absorbed in the music itself – in fact I’ve had the playlist from the movie (below) on repeat ever since!

Rating
5


‘Pick It Up! – Ska in the 90s’ is out now and can be ordered/downloaded from the official website – https://www.skamovie.com/shop-1


Listen to the ‘Pick It Up! – Ska in the 90s’ official playlist on Spotify


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! Have you seen this SKAcumentary yet? What did you think of it? 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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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Snow Patrol @ Brighton Centre, Brighton – 24/11/19

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On Sunday 24th November 2019, Snow Patrol arrived in Brighton to perform a wonderful show at Brighton Centre, on their Reworked Tour. Due to performing two sets, the band opted to have no support act. Here’s what we had to say about the show…


Snow Patrol

As a way of celebrating 25 years of Snow Patrol, the band recently recorded new versions of some of their biggest tracks, on their latest record, Reworked. To accompany the new release and further celebrate their milestone anniversary, the band embarked on the Reworked Tour, stopping for a date in Brighton.

The set was split into two halves – the first with a mellow, stripped-back ambience whilst following a short interval, the second half picked up the pace with a more full-on, upbeat vibe. However, throughout both sets, the band stuck with the “reworked” style, breathing new life into some of their best-loved hits and deepest cuts from their back catalogue.

What actually made the night even more special, was the fact that quite a few of the “reworked” versions of the songs they performed, were not even on the new album (Reworked), so just by being at a show on this tour. you get to experience something very special – these one-off gems may never be heard performed or recorded in the same way again.

The audience diversity at a Snow Patrol show is very interesting too – whilst there are typically middle-aged listeners who have undoubtedly followed the length of the band’s career to date, there are also children being accompanied by their parents, equally pouring their lyrics back to them. It’s quite bewitching to see such a range of fans, across a few generations, and is testament to the timelessness of the band’s work. That, and/or perhaps the newer versions of the band’s back catalogue have picked up a new generation of fans on the way. Either way, they are a band that can be enjoyed by everyone.

The effort and craftsmanship that went into the band’s performance was a wonderful experience and whilst they could easily sell out huge arenas, it was nice to see them playing the smaller scale of (still) big venues without compromising the quality and production of the show. The addition of both string and brass sections as well as an additional percussionist to the lineup, really added an interesting new depth to the songs too.

If you haven’t had the chance yet, there are only a handful of shows left on this incredible tour, to experience this unique take on the band’s long-standing career and I would highly recommend trying to catch one of them, if you can.

Highlights:

  • The banter between songs from Gary Lightbody was pretty dry, honest and hysterical. One of the best moments was during the start of ‘Run’ when someone screamed, “I love you,”, completely throwing him off by making him laugh. He then restarted the song but not before telling a witty anecdote about how he once ruined a television performance of the song, after which one person on Twitter had a go at him for, for “ruining Leona Lewis’ song.”
  • The addition of string and horn sections as well as a percussionist really added an interesting depth to the performance. Furthermore, having the two main producers of Reworked performing on the tour with them was quite a unique idea too.
  • Gary Lightbody took time to introduce all of the various extra instrumentalists on the stage with him, really showing his gratitude for their skills and performances with the band.
  • The energy and new life to the band’s back catalogue of songs was invigorating to watch, demonstrating that even after 25 years, this band are still enjoying performing to audiences…and still have so much to give!

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📷 All of the photos are credited to Michael Hundertmark 📸
Why not give him a follow on Instagram and Twitter or check out his website.


 Setlist

First Set
You’re All I Have*
New York
You Could Be Happy
Warmer Climate
I Think Of Home
Crack The Shutters
Lifening
Take Back The City

Second Set
Spitting Games*
Chocolate
A Dark Switch
Run
Heal Me
Set The Fire To The Third Bar*
Empress
Called Out In The Dark
Shut Your Eyes
Chasing Cars
Open Your Eyes

Encore
What If This Is All The Love You Ever Get?
Just Say Yes

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


Finally, I want to say a HUGE thanks to Warren Higgins and Charleigh Egan from Chuff Media for sorting out this review and to Snow Patrol themselves for putting on such a remarkable show.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Cory Wells – The Way We Are

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Cory Wells is a singer-songwriter hailing from Redondo Beach, California. Wells’ past lies in that of the metal scene and although his solo career has taken a lighter path, his debut album, The Way We Are, never forgets his roots. Here’s our take on it…

Cory Wells - The Way We Are.jpg

We all mellow out eventually. As time goes on, our tastes ‘mature’ and many of us fall away from our respective scenes, perhaps in search of something musically that fits our changing needs. It feels like Cory Wells is trying to fill this need and it is clear right from the start in ‘Distant‘, that emo toil and angst are the order of the day. It’s a beautiful introduction to the album which highlights just some of Wells’ vocal talent but it doesn’t give too much away of what this record will deliver. ‘Keiko‘ follows this with a slight tweak up in the mood, which is a feature of the whole album. Wells is constantly shifting the dynamic but not dramatically enough to take away from what is clearly an outpouring from the heart, for himself. Furthermore, these small dynamic shifts help the album to flow in and out of each track.

A particular highlight of the album is ‘Wildfire’. This track delivers brilliant vocal hooks across the chorus and seamlessly blends Wells’ metal influence with the introduction of screamed vocals. It’s a feature also found across the album in ‘Walk Away‘ but it’s not shoehorned in for effect. It works to show Wells’ breaking emotion in the music and it never overstays its welcome, on what is an acoustic-based album. This screamed vocal is also heard on ‘Harbor‘ which throws reminders back to early City and Colour with its falling guitar melodies and stunning vocal range. Across the album, Wells shows great talent both vocally and musically – his voice seamlessly moves from a smooth Dallas Green style, to a more driven feel like those of Tim McIlrath (Rise Against) and of course that vocal scream!

Overall this doesn’t feel like a debut album – Wells shows his prior experience from other projects to produce a truly complete feel to the record.

Don’t be lured into thinking this album is all about the slow pace of that “sucker for anything acoustic” vibe of the mid 2000s emo days (although ‘Fall Apart‘ featuring Lizzy Farrall is a great pastiche to this). Upbeat tracks such as ‘Broken’, ‘Patience’ and ‘Cement’ musically provide some light relief, but lyrically follow a similar trend to the rest.

Overall this doesn’t feel like a debut album. They usually feel like a collection of tracks in this genre, but Wells shows his prior experience from other projects to produce a truly complete feel to the record. Tracks like ‘End of a Good Thing’ and previously mentioned ‘Wildfire‘ are great tracks on their own, highlighting Wells’ writing talent for building suspense and emotion, but the album deserves to be listened to as a whole. There is a well-written narrative here, both musically and lyrically; it’s the kind of album ready to be the soundtrack to your late-night drive.

For fans of: City and Colour, Deaf Havana, This Wild Life.

Rating
4


‘The Way We Are’ is out now on Pure Noise Records and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/the-way-we-are/1480535816


The Way We Are on Spotify

Walk Away (Official Music Video)

Patience (Official Music Video)

Wildfire [Official Music Video]


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this singer-songwriter’s debut 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.


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Rob Manhire
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