#FeelGoodFriday: Shawn Mendes – ‘In My Blood’ & ‘Lost In Japan’


   

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March 2018 saw the return of Shawn Mendes, who brought us not just one, but two brand new singles, both of which vary greatly in style but have equally brilliant Feel-Good Friday vibes. We just couldn’t decide which one to share, so figured, why not share both?!

‘In My Blood’ is a (pop)-rock ballad that transcends from a soft, despairing beginning into a thunderous, passionate anthem by the very first chorus and continues to soar from there. This track shows off just how incredible Mendes’ vocals are with their raspy tones that show just how intensely meaningful this song is.

Meanwhile, ‘Lost In Japan’ is a melting pot of contemporary funk with R&B and pop flavours too; it’s very reminiscent of something by Justin Timberlake. This track is also passionate but in a very different way; lyrically the song expresses how Mendes would happily travel the globe just to be close to his lover, all of which sits atop a heavy bassline and groovy guitar rhythms.

Sadly, no music videos have been released as yet, but as soon as they do, we’ll be sure to keep you updated.

What are your thoughts of Shawn Mendes’ two new singles? Are you as much of a fan as us? Have you got a #FeelGoodFriday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via our social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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Shawn Mendes – ‘In My Blood’


‘In My Blood’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/in-my-blood-single/1359906692



Shawn Mendes – ‘Lost In Japan’


‘Lost In Japan’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/lost-in-japan-single/1360548138


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#Review: Isaac Gracie – Isaac Gracie (Self-Titled)


   

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Isaac Gracie is an incredibly talented singer-songwriter, hailing from London. From humble beginnings, his 2016 demo, ‘Last Words’ caused a big stir online, leading to the head of Universal Music flying over from LA just to see him perform, resulting in his signing to Virgin EMI. Now, in 2018, the songsmith is releasing his debut, self-titled album. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Isaac Gracie.jpg

Every so often an album comes along that is both exciting, inspirational and sonically diverse; groundbreaking even…this is definitely one of those albums! (The last album I felt like this about was Will Joseph Cook‘s Sweet Dreamer.)

Whilst growing up, Gracie’s father left the family home and since signing to Virgin EMI, his longterm relationship sadly ended, but out of the ashes of these life-influencing events came some fantastic songwriting material, resulting in this incredibly powerful debut. As such, throughout the album, there are strong themes of abandonment, guilt and heartbreak; this honest approach and willing exposure of his emotional vulnerabilities is nothing new to songwriting but the way it marries up with the instrumentation is simply marvellous.

Opening track, Terrified’ (think Elbow meets Harry Styles‘Two Ghosts’) chronicles Gracie’s own fears and insecurities surrounding the hype about him, singing, “I’m terrified that maybe, I wasn’t cut out for this.” He really needn’t worry though; he certainly is cut out for this!

‘Last Words’ is a huge track for him; it’s the song that kick-started the buzz about him and whilst it’s very different from the demo, he admitted that he spent quite some time playing around with different versions before settling on the one that’s now on the record. He’s managed to strike a great balance between the original demo, maintaining some of it’s raw essence but also brought more depth to it with the addition of strings. Imagine a track by The Beatles that’s been countryfied and you get this!

The brilliant blend of highs and lows, and fusion of indie, rock, country and latin flavours has genuinely created one of the most genre-bending albums heard in a long time!

‘The Death Of You & I’ is a personal favourite – it’s got an almost latin beat behind it before it unleashes a hidden ferocity. The calm verses that erupt into the heavy, chaotic choruses make this an intense and fun song which you can’t help but want to thrash around to, wildly. There’s even an almost salsa-esque breakdown before the final chorus, making this one of the most intriguing songs I’ve heard in years.

Other stand-out tracks include; ‘Running On Empty’, which is relatively mainstream and quite indie (like something you might expect to hear from The Killers or Maccabees), ‘Telescope’ with its beautiful overlapping vocals at the end, ‘That Was Then’, which has stunning, dynamic vocals, ranging from deep to falsetto, topped off with a powerful and melodic chorus and ‘When You Go’, which is a track you would expect to hear from the likes of The Barr Brothers or Vance Joy and be accompanied by a music video shot with an old, handheld, film-reel camera; it’s strongly folk flavoured.

Gracie has been quoted as saying that he set out to create the best record of all time and whilst there are bound to be people who have differing opinions, he certainly has created a masterpiece! The brilliant blend of highs and lows, and fusion of indie, rock, country and latin flavours has genuinely created one of the most genre-bending albums heard in a long time…yet somehow it still works as a comprehensive body of work that is uniquely identifiable as him. This is an album I am certain will make a big impact this year and will definitely carve out an exciting future for his music career. Utter brilliance!

Rating
4-5


‘Isaac Gracie’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/isaac-gracie/1345686455


Isaac Gracie on Spotify

Terrified (Official Video)

Silhouettes Of You (Official Video)

Last Words (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Isaac Gracie’s self-titled debut album? Are you as much of a huge fan as us? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or chat to us about it via our socials.


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

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#ThrowbackThursday: Lovestation – ‘Teardrops’


   

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2018 sees the 20th anniversary, since the release of Lovestation‘s ‘Teardrops’, which was in fact a cover of a song from Womack & Womack‘s fourth studio album, Conscience (originally released in 1988).

Unlike the original version, Lovestation‘s was composed in an early UK Garage style and went on to become the group’s biggest hit, reaching Number 14 in the UK Charts.

There have also been several other versions since this by  German pop quartet No Angels in 2007, Australian singer Kate Alexa in 2008 and then in 2009, UK pop girl group, Sugababes, recorded a version for the special Island Records album, Island Life – 50 Years of Island Records.

A quirky, black and white video was also released alongside this single, which can be seen below.

This is a fantastic track that certainly conjures up childhood memories for me and whilst it’s now 20 years old, I think there’s still something edgy and almost current about it.

What are your thoughts of this epic 1998 Garage tune? Got a #ThrowbackThursday track for us? Please leave your thoughts or share a song suggestion in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Teardrops’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/teardrops-flava-7-mix/1145210065?i=1145210069


#WildCardWednesday: Ben Howard – ‘A Boat To An Island On The Wall’


   

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After 3 years away, Ben Howard is back with  his brand new single, ‘A Boat To An Island On The Wall’, the first song to be taken from his upcoming, third studio album Noonday Dream.

Having scored a Number 1 with his previous record, I Forget Where We Were, back in October 2014, Ben has clearly spent time crafting a song that is diverse from start to finish; it is a 7-minute epic that ascends from an eerie and unassuming start into a somewhat hauntingly grungy climax.

This song will surely affirm Ben Howard as one of the UK’s most unique and gifted artists and undoubtedly create excitement around his upcoming record release on 1st June 2018, on Island Records.

No music video has been released as yet, but we’ll keep you updated if one emerges online.

What are your thoughts of this diverse singer-songwriter? Do you have a #WildCardWednesday track to share with us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or chat to us about it via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘A Boat To An Island On The Wall’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/a-boat-to-an-island-on-the-wall/1364401352?i=1364401811


#Two4Tunesday: Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey – ‘The Middle’ & Lil Dicky – ‘Freaky Friday’ featuring Chris Brown


   

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Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey – ‘The Middle’

Zedd‘s latest track, ‘The Middle’ features the American electronic music duo, Grey (aka brothers Kyle Trewarth and Michael Trewartha) and vocals by American country singer, Maren Morris.

This track may well have come out at the start of 2018 but 10 weeks later, it’s still at Number 10 in the UK charts, following the success of 2017’s Stay with Alessia Cara, however this track performed even better than that.

It’s a fun, uplifting track which has a very similar feel to ‘Stay’ with it’s combination of raw, powerful and digitised/vocoder vocals, atop a blend of 90s pop sensibilities and modern EDM vibes, making for a very distinctive sound.

The video is great fun too, with it’s stunning set and extravagant use of visual lighting. All-round this is just a fantastic piece of modern pop that will undoubtedly get stuck in everyone’s head; a true favourite of mine right now!


‘The Middle’ is on iTunes for downloading now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-middle/1336771022?i=1336771388



Lil Dicky – ‘Freaky Friday’ featuring Chris Brown

The second track this week is Lil Dicky‘s Number 1, smash hit, ‘Freaky Friday’, featuring guest vocals from Chris Brown.

The track itself is a combination of  hip hop, pop and comedy (think similar to The Lonely Island), centring on the film(s) of the same name and continually references Chris Brown himself, throughout.

Whilst this track is intentionally comedic and works hilariously with its accompanying music video, there’s no doubt about it that this is one heck of a catchy tune too; it’s easy to see how it’s managed to top the UK Charts!

The music video itself parodies the 2003 film Freaky Friday (starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan) and features cameos from Jimmy TatroEd SheeranDJ Khaled and Kendall Jenner. It’s a must-watch video but also, I defy anyone not to end up singing along to this earworm of a track!


‘Freaky Friday’ can also be downloaded from iTunes now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/freaky-friday-feat-chris-brown/1351005381?i=1351005400


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#MellowMonday: Mullally – ‘Sweet Coffee’ featuring Bassette


   

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21-year-old soul singer, Mullally, has just unleashed his new single ‘Sweet Coffee’ on the world, featuring London artist Bassette and damn it’s good!

The smooth, soulful vibes are the perfect way to wake up to a week ahead – it truly is like the audible interpretation of your first cup of coffee in the morning. Somehow the pair have created the perfect blend of contemporary R&B/Pop inspirations with the powerful vocals and soft melodies of old-school jazz and soul; it’s truly euphoric.

Having already supported the likes of Anne-Marie, Jess Glynne, RAYE and Clean Bandit, played festivals including Glastonbury, Lovebox and Reading/Leeds and winning Best Solo Male at the Unsigned Music Awards, there’s no doubt that this guy is going to become a big name over the coming months.

No music video has emerged online yet but as soon as one does, we will keep you posted.

What are your thoughts of this soulful singer and songwriter? Do you love this song as much as us? Have you got your own #MellowMonday track to share with us? Please leave your thoughts or own song suggestions in a comment or tell us about it via our social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Sweet Coffee’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/sweet-coffee-feat-bassette-single/1364508986


#Review: The Wonder Years – Sister Cities


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerThe Wonder Years are an an American pop punk band from Pennsylvania, USA that formed in July 2005. Since their humble beginnings, the band have released five full-length albums, two EPs, and had several split releases with other bands. Now, 2018 sees their sixth album release and possibly their most unique record to date. Here are our thoughts on Sister Cities

One thing is for certain; with this album, the band have all but shed their iconic pop punk sound and become more of an alternative rock outfit. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it shows a certain maturity and evolution, but with that comes a much darker tone to their sound and far heavier themes to their songs. This is something fresh and rare for the genre.

The conception of this album stems from the band’s huge, 2 year tour in support of their 2015 release, No Closer To Heaven, which had frontman Dan Campbell (or “Soupy”, as he’s known to his close friends) reflecting about life on the road. It was whilst touring that he experienced heartbreak and took a somewhat emotional beating and this can be heard by the cracks and subtle imperfections in his vocals, showing a very real and very raw set of emotions.

From the thunderous and kinetic energy of opening track, ‘Raining In Kyoto’, we are taken on a journey from the bustling heights of Japan, through the catchy-as-hell choruses of title track ‘Sister Cities’ before ultimately ending on the thought-provoking, ‘The Ocean Grew Hands To Hold Me’.

The poetic lyricism and excellent musicianship make this an inspiring collection of eleven, achingly mesmerising tracks.

This is an album that is steeped with references of death and a genuine sense of nostalgia. Its realness is altogether dark; it’s both tense and intense. From the wonderful lyrics, “There’s a bird inside your rib cage,” on ‘Pyramids of Salt’, which starts as quite a twisted and emo ballad, before becoming a desperate plea for forgiveness, to the beautifully poetic language and crisp-sounding voice of the passionate ‘Flowers Where Your Face Should Be’, the band have captured their raw emotions with perfection.

The sounds on the record lie somewhere along the lines of Brand New but married up with a grittier sounding Panic! At The Disco vocal (as on ‘Raining In Kyoto’) and the melancholic intensity of Sonny Moore‘s days in From First To Last (like that of the rather heavy track, ‘The Ghosts Of Now’).

Kudos must go to The Wonder Years for taking a brave step away from a more mainstream sound and venturing into a more post-hardcore realm with certain emo qualities, to ultimately create a somewhat concept album; something that’s no mean feat to achieve. You won’t necessarily walk away from this album feeling as uplifted as you would after hearing bop-along, perfectly-(over)produced pop punk record, but the poetic lyricism and excellent musicianship make this an inspiring collection of eleven, achingly mesmerising tracks, documenting a 2-year insight into the band’s lives.

Rating


‘Sister Cities’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/sister-cities/1337276526


Sister Cities on Spotify

Sister Cities (Official Video)

Pyramids of Salt (Visual Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s latest album, Sister Cities? Are you a fan? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or talk to us about it via our socials.


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

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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