#Review: Dashboard Confessional – All The Truth That I Can Tell

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All The Truth That I Can Tell is Dashboard Confessional‘s ninth studio album. It poses as both a reinvention and a rediscovery of what made the band the big emo hitters. Returning to work with James Paul Wisner (The Swiss Army Romance, The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most), have Dashboard Confessional reignited the flame that lit so many fans over the past 20 years?

Dashboard Confessional - All The Truth That I Can Tell

It’s not always common for a reviewer to pin their colours to the mast about the band they are reviewing, but for the sake of clarity and sense I will declare that I’ve never been a huge Dashboard Confessional fan. Many of my friends loved them, but I just didn’t get the hype at the time of their breakout years. However, times have changed. I have matured (don’t laugh), or at least my tastes have, and I wanted to give Dashboard Confessional’s ninth studio album a try, to see if I can work out why they are a band that has managed nine studio albums. I’m going into this blind… (or deaf?!) having not really listened before…

All The Truth That I Can Tell is a very complete album that requires your full attention.

Initially I was surprised to find that the whole album is based on acoustic and it is all the better for it. It’s a mixture of acoustic rock like ‘Pain Free In Three Chords’ but mostly straight up ballads like the single ‘Burning Heart’ and the beautifully crafted ‘Young’. Having the whole album as an acoustic affair allows for the lyrics to steal the show and gives the record a very mature feel. Despite this, there are still some wonderful guitar flourishes such as those in the ‘The Better of Me’ to add some colour to the music, alongside the well-crafted lyrics.

Lyrically, the album has a very narrative feel. As someone who is approaching their mid-30s it did speak to me and again I was surprised. It’s touching on the usual stuff you would expect; love, loss and everything in between, but it also pulls on more mature themes such as becoming a parent (‘Me and Mine’) and letting go of the trivial past and appreciating the little things in life (‘Here’s To Moving On’). It shows that Dashboard Confessional are avoiding what many bands from the 2000s have failed to do, and that is keep themselves relevant to their ageing (and sometimes maturing) fans.

Chris Carrabba is writing about what I can only assume is his here and now. This is the aspect of the album I loved the most. I found myself going back to tracks that I wasn’t paying full attention to on the first listen so that I could delve deeper into the narrative. And that’s just it. No clumsy metaphors, just a long stream of thought written out over beautiful acoustic melodies. It’s very descriptive story telling over music that, as I already said, draws you into to listen more intently.

Overall this album should be appreciated as a whole, but there are some standout tracks that are worth their own mention here. Firstly, ‘Everyone Else Is Just Noise’ is a great example of how acoustic tracks can have a great dynamic range even when just a few instruments are utilised. Also, ‘Sunshine State’, a song about regrets and letting go of the past, has a great singalong factor, it’s simple chorus which is now living rent free in my head.

If I could have one small criticism of the album, it is that the stripped-back nature of an acoustic setup feels like it removes some of the emotion from the music. A good example of this is in ‘The Better of Me’, where there is a great build up in the music and some raw vocal emotion pushing through, but it feels a bit flat as it hits it’s climax. I feel that a full band on some of the tracks would really help to hit home, the emotions that Carraba is trying to get across in his vocals. But you can’t have it all and having a full band in other tracks would have the opposite effect of ruining some deeper emotional meaning from the lyrics.

All The Truth That I Can Tell is a very complete album that requires your full attention. It has great attention to detail in both the lyrical content and in it’s musicality. It needs your full attention because it’s trying to tell a story through a straight narrative, rather than setting a tone of emotion. It feels very direct in that sense and if the lyrics speak to you then you will love this album, if they don’t you’ll probably still enjoy some stand-out tracks.

Rating
4


‘All The Truth That I Can Tell’ is out 25/02/22 and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/all-the-truth-that-i-can-tell/1580384081


All The Truth That I Can Tell on Spotify

Coming 25/02/22.

Here’s To Moving On (Official Music Video)

Burning Heart (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Dashboard Confessional’s ninth studio 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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#Review: Delaire The Liar – EAT YOUR OWN (EP)

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Delaire the Liar have been on a steady rise over the past few years, relentlessly gracing local scenes and touring alongside some great UK talent such as Creeper, Coldbones and The Young Hearts. However, it might be time for Delaire to step into the light for themselves with EAT YOUR OWN, which shows that they have smashed it!

Delaire The Liar - EAT YOUR OWN

To kick off, this EP skirts that fine line of feeling raw and edgy without also feeling like you recorded it using an iPhone and the headphones that came in the box, whilst sat in your mate’s car (don’t lie, we’ve all been there!). Vocally it’s a superb range of emotional breaking, like with the intro to ‘NO ENTRY’ and also ‘FURNACE’; whilst also falling right back to almost a whisper. Ffin Colley’s vocals are well complimented in ‘FURNACE’ by others in the band, just to further add a level of contrast in promoting an emotional record.

And that was also the aim here, Delaire are trying to purvey some deep-level issues. Lyrically, they are not clumsily trying to sew in unnecessary metaphors. It’s hard-hitting and straight-to-the-point, covering the suicide of a loved one, serious illness, love, loss but mostly sacrifice for the ones we care about. The record hits hardest in ‘NO ACCIDENT’, where we are introduced to just guitar and vocal, pulling us into a story of helping a loved one in crisis (I won’t give away the story). There’s no building here, you’re smacked straight in the face a euphoric crescendo of melody as if emotions have just burst, much like they would in the story described throughout the song. It’s the only place on the EP where the raw tone disappears and it’s used to great effect. It’s short and well-written into the track.

Instrumentally, it’s hard to notice what’s going on as the vocals sit unashamedly high in the mix. But if you dig deeper into the sound, you hear that there are some exquisitely crafted melodies across the guitar. They are often short flourishes which break the big block of sound that is used to sit the vocals. Overall though, the rest of the band sit as a canvas for the vocals on this record and they do it well. It’s not boring though, Delaire play with some interesting rhythmic ideas such as the chorus in ‘NO THANKS’ that falls off the beat to keep us intrigued. It’s the best way to showcase the talent of the musical writing without dominating the tracks. There is one guitar solo in ‘DOG’ which is messy and ratty and fits perfectly into the track. Writing guitar work like that, on purpose, can be a tough task, but it works so well!

Delaire the Liar have managed to squeeze album-levels of emotion into just 6 tracks.

Delaire aren’t shying away from their punk roots either. Punk needs to be catchy and every track on this EP has a great hook to embed itself deep into your brain for certain recall later (normally when you’re trying to sleep…thanks guys!). In particular ‘HALLOWEEN’ and ‘NO THANKS’ bring an almost pop element to their choruses. Very melodic and lyrically lead, which help to carry the EP through the heavier music and lyrical elements. Without this, the EP would be a tough listen and one you might only reach for only if the mood fit. Instead EAT YOUR OWN will be one of those records that will sit in your playlist on a loop whatever the weather, because it clicks in with however you are feeling.

If there is one thing we can criticise this EP for, is exactly that, it’s just an EP. This had the feeling of a full-blown album in the making. Lots of dynamics across the tracks, a story to be told across 10-12 tracks. However, to mark EAT YOUR OWN down for that would be unkind given how difficult it is to write, record a produce an album of high quality without creating filler. It just left me wanting more…but maybe that’s a good thing?!

Delaire the Liar have managed to squeeze album-levels of emotion into just 6 tracks. They’ve somehow crowbarred in the epic amounts of live energy they have from their shows, kept the raw touch they bring and produced an outstanding record. This feels like Delaire’s step up to bigger things, this record is thier statement piece for people to pay attention. This is an epic EP which has firmly put Delaire the Liar on my radar for future releases, as it should for you too.

EAT YOUR OWN is out now via Rude Records.

FFO: Holding Absence, At the Drive-in, Creeper

Rating
5


‘EAT YOUR OWN’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/eat-your-own-ep/1595619213


EAT YOUR OWN on Spotify

NO ACCIDENT (Official Music Video)

HALLOWEEN (Official Music Video)

FURNACE (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.


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

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Rob Manhire
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#Review: Normandie – Dark & Beautiful Secrets

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Dark & Beautiful Secrets is the third full-length release from Sweden’s very own Normandie. They claim this album is the true sound of the band with vocalist, Philip Strand (also a producer/writer for a number of pop artists & he even penned the Irish Eurovision entry for 2021), claiming that the album is much darker and delves more intimately into their personal lives than they have been before. Let’s see if it matches their ambitions…

Normandie - Dark & Beautiful Secrets

Overall the album is very pacy and it doesn’t let up often. Dynamically, it’s fairly steady in that it keeps up the initial pace of ‘Babylon’ and ‘Hostage’, which are very anthemic in their presence at the start of the album. Which is great. However, for an album claiming intimacy, it lacks interest in how it flows. It has more of a dance anthems playlist vibe than a gritty window into the soul. Having said that, there is some let up within the tracks themselves with stripped back choruses that then smash back into very catchy choruses. It’s the kind of thing we’ve seen from bands in a similar vein such as Don Broco and Thirty Seconds To Mars. Unlike those bands though, all the tracks feel pretty much the same, very driven and super catchy in the choruses, but that’s all.

Speaking of catchy choruses, ‘Jericho’ and ‘Holy Water’ are particular highlights on this record, but to be honest, any of the tracks would easily pass as a single release. Lyrically, the choruses are just straight to the point, trying to encompass the track as a whole with one or two lines. Again though, the album lacks imagination in its writing. The lyrics feel quite generic and although the use of some good concepts such as the idea of Holy Water drowning you (a reference to Strand turning his back on the church at the age of 14), it cannot shake some very over-used lines and clichés.

Dark & Beautiful Secrets is not a bad album, but it’s nothing that stands out from the crowd.

‘Atmosphere’ tries to break both of the issues above. It is a much slower track than the rest and is a nice relief from the driving beats and heavy melodies on the rest of the album. It really is a standout track which is unfortunately lost amongst everything else. It’s a track about losing yourself and true to its title, really has some atmosphere about it. Lyrically, it feels much stronger than the rest, less forced and the production really adds to the feeling of the track as a whole. There are some heavier elements to the album too which are ear-catching. Most notably, is the riff in ‘Mission Control’, which really throws me back to some old Muse tracks, that I haven’t visited in a while and ‘Renegade’ feels influenced by the newer Bring Me The Horizon tracks of recent times. I would say these are the only varying elements to this album but it still feels quite ‘samey’ as mentioned before.

Dark & Beautiful Secrets is not a bad album, but it’s nothing that stands out from the crowd. If you enjoy similar bands such as Don Broco, Bring Me The Horizon (later releases) and PVRIS then you will enjoy this, but I think you’ll forget about it a few weeks later. Add ‘Atmosphere’ to your favourite playlist and that will do you right.

Rating
3


‘Dark & Beautiful Secrets’ is out 19/02/21 on Easy Life Records and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/dark-beautiful-secrets/1539052326


Dark & Beautiful Secrets on Spotify

Coming Friday 19th February 2021.

Babylon (Official Music Video)

Holy Water (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s latest album? 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 – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: State Champs – Unplugged

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State Champs return to the scene after a two year absence from releasing new material and it’s probably not what was expected but it’s certainly not unwelcome. ‘Unplugged’ is a self described stripped back affair from the New York Pop-Rockers which doesn’t feel out of place in their back catalogue. In fact I think fans will welcome it. Although two tracks are reworks for the EP, we have four brand new tracks written for this release to wet the appetite of fans awaiting a full blown LP soon.

state-champs-unplugged

‘Unplugged’ opens with ‘A Thousands Hearts’ which immediately pulls in the classic State Champs sound. Despite being stripped back, there are a lot of melodic elements going on, this isn’t just a case of shoving the chords underneath the vocal lines. In this track and also ‘The Recipe’ there are beautifully crafted guitar lines woven together alongside a strong vocal presence from DiScanio. It all fits together nicely and makes it an enjoyable listen across the whole EP. It feels like the tracks were written in one go rather than being revisited and tweaked over and over.

The EP moves onto ‘10am’ and ‘Crying Out Loud’ both of which have that classic American Pop-Rock feel. These are the kinds of tracks I would imagine in my head when walking along a Californian beach. It’s cliched but it best captures the essence of these tracks to a British ear! ‘10am’ has a lot of weight to it for a stripped back number. It could easily slot onto a full release and wouldn’t feel out of place and that really shows how these tracks were specifically written for an acoustic release. It’s a welcome lift to the EP which shows that there is a lot of dynamism despite being an acoustic release. ‘Crying Out Loud’ is the stand out track from the new material and it rubber stamps this as a State Champs record. The chorus is gloriously catchy with an infectious repetitive hook. The verse is simple with a guitar and piano chords which allow the vocal lines to speak for themselves and help to lift the track into the big chorus. It’s an upbeat number hitting on more emotional feelings, which is a classic feel for this genre. This is a track that deserves a full band and release. If they felt the need to do this it would easily be one of State Champs best tracks.

Don’t think of this as a stripped back EP (because as I said, it’s not that stripped back!) but more of a different direction for the band and then it makes perfect sense.

The reworks of ‘Criminal’ and ‘Dead & Gone’ will make for interesting listening for existing fans. ‘Criminal’ has a country feel which takes the track in a welcome direction away from it’s Pop-Punk beginnings without completely losing the feel of the track. It works surprisingly well even for a track that sounds so different in its original form. As for ‘Dead & Gone’ it comes across as a completely different track. It’s now a slow paced, laid back ballad and it really works with the existing lyrics. State Champs are great at running emotional charged lyrics in upbeat tracks as the original of this track did, so the switch to an acoustic ballad was only natural. Again though it’s not a quick easy, through the chords in and hope for the best. The acoustic nature of the track is well thought through.

There is one smudge on an otherwise perfect window pane of an EP, in that it’s not all that ‘unplugged’. There is still a lot going on instrumentally on many of these tracks. ‘10am’ and ‘Criminal’ are still using a full band although granted the acoustic guitar takes the bulk of the work. It might sound like a small issue until you hear the second half of ‘A Thousand Hearts’ which breaks into full band for its middle eight along with a saxophone solo?!? As a sax player myself I should be delighted but I just don’t think it fits on this ‘unplugged’ record. It sounds like an 80s pop track but not in a good way (think George Michael – Careless Whisper). The band clearly want to show their great range of influences, but it just stands out too much on a record like this. It’s the only thing really on an otherwise awesome EP.

Sometimes a band can drop an acoustic release and it’s just so flat. It can expose vocal weaknesses and uninspired, lazy musicianship. But for State Champs it just highlights their songwriting prowess and a keen ear for how to craft some great songs. Don’t think of this as a stripped back EP (because as I said, it’s not that stripped back!) but more of a different direction for the band and then it makes perfect sense. The band said they wanted to get back to their roots with just hanging out and writing songs on acoustic guitars and having fun and this EP perfectly shows how that is the process for writing great songs. Released on Pure Noise Records 14th August 2020

Rating
4


‘Unplugged’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/unplugged-ep/1514347756



We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s latest, acoustic 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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#WildCardWednesday: Chiefs of Eden – ‘Feed’

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Over the last year or so I’ve had many conversations with friends and fellow musicians over a worrying lack of younger audiences and bands coming through our local scenes. It’s not non-existent but compared to what I remember growing up, there just isn’t the same feel for shows. Friday nights were solely a time of going to see your friend’s band from school supporting older artists at what ever local space could be hired out for cheap, and if it had a bar, it was a bonus. Sure, some of the bands were crap, but it didn’t matter because occasionally there were some gems that went on to do some great things.

This brings me on to my wild card for this Wednesday, Chiefs of Eden. They are a young metal band from Kent, UK, that I have been following for a while mostly through proxy of a colleague at work. For some reason they just caught my attention and reminded me of times past where we would give the time of day (or night) to young local bands striving just to be heard.

Anyway before I take myself down a very long and old nostalgic road (lockdown’s got me doing that a lot lately!), lets talk about ‘Feed’. This is the debut release for Chiefs of Eden and is the work of a reformation of the band after a break of a year to try and hone their sound. They claim influences from a lot of mid-2000s metallers such as Trivium, Gorjira and Lamb of God. Those influences really shine through the track. It follow that great sequence of trudging verses leading into the sweet relief of melodic metal chorus. The chorus itself is the highlight of the track, a good hook which gets lodged in your brain. The verses are a real mix of nu metal riffing similar to old 36 Crazyfists and the dirtiest vocals of death metal. Perhaps it’s too dirty, perhaps I’m too innocent? I’ve never been a fan of the heavily tracked, multi-tone screams, but the right audience will appreciate it.

I would say that the track lacks ambition in its structure. It’s calling out for a raging guitar solo or something to lift it out of the breakdown before the final chorus. Without it, it feels like it falls a little flat towards the end and you can loose your interest.

For a first release, for a young band, it’s good. There is clearly talent here and as they continue to write together and draw on more influences the small issues will iron themselves out. It’s worth your time just to realise that there are very young bands out there with embers of something worthwhile.

‘Feed’ is out now on all major streaming platforms.

What are your thoughts of this band’s single? Got a #WildCardWednesday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

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


‘Feed’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/feed-single/1510140582


#WildCardWednesday: Firing All Cylinders – ‘What Is Love’ (Haddaway Cover)

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I am a huge sucker for 90s dance classics, so when I saw that Firing All Cylinders had done a metal version of ‘What Is Love’ by Haddaway, I was all ears. The Californian metallers toyed with the idea that initially started as a joke but we are happy they went with it!

If you don’t know the song by title, you will certainly know it by its opening synth hook. ‘What Is Love’ charted across the world in 1993, but by no means set it on fire, however, it has become a cult classic along 90s music fans. Firing All Cylinders have kept the essence of the track by keeping that oh so recognisable synth motif almost exactly as it sounds on the original, but have brought their own metal chug and groove underneath.

Personally I love it, but I know it will divide a lot of people. It’s not the first time we’ve seen metal bands do this to beloved pop songs, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. 90s dance just seems to lend itself well to this kind of thing. However unlike others, I feel the band have not strayed too far away from the original that it is not recognisable. There are no heavy breakdowns, no guttural screams just a homage to a classic.

The video really stretches the idea of what love is. The original video had a slight dark feel to it (for the 90s anyway), but Firing All Cylinders have taken it about 1,000 steps further. It’s dark, it’s ritualistic and involves sacrifice and is probably more what fans of the band would expect.

We aren’t too fussed by the video, but the track is definitely worth a listen for all you 90s dance cross metal fans out there!


What are your thoughts of this metal band’s cover of the 90s dance classic? Do you have a cool cover for #WildCardWednesday to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

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


‘What Is Love’ can be downloaded off Apple Music now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/what-is-love-single/1505584706


#FeelGoodFriday: The Young Hearts – ‘Fool’s Gold (Alternative)’

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UK alternative outfit, The Young Hearts have given us an alternative version of their single ‘Fool’s Gold’ to keep our spirits up and our ears intrigued. The single is the first from their highly anticipated album, due out later this year.

The original single is a great emo anthem and lyrically makes us hark back to simpler times in our youth. Musically, it’s an emotional affair as it always is with The Young Hearts. We love this stripped down version even more, as they have managed to completely change the tone of the track. Rather than making us miss the things we loved, it’s more of a fanciful reminisce, a trip down memory lane. It’s not a completely acoustic track like you often get with these reworked tracks, but instead ‘Fool’s Gold’ is a showcase of the band’s musical talents and flexibility, which makes their forthcoming album even more tantalising. It has a quieter, more relaxed feel but is not lacking in technical elements.

At this time, when there isn’t much to do apart from think of everything we are missing, it’s nice to see bands pushing out new material to keep us interested, ready to venture back out into the world for shows with those we’ve missed.

The Young Hearts will being doing a livestream Q&A on Facebook tonight at 8:30pm (UK time) and are due back out on tour with WACO in late September 2020.

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


‘Fool’s Gold (Alternative)’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/fools-gold-alternative/1497544493?i=1497544499


#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 now 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

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.


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

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

#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 Four Year Strong 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 Four Year Strong 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 Four Year Strong) 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 Four Year Strong’s 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 was released on 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

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:

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


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

#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