#Review: Chicane – Everything We Had To Leave Behind

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Chicane (aka Nick Bracegirdle) is a British musician, composer, songwriter and producer who has had a string of hits that have been massive on the Ibiza club scene, including ‘Saltwater’ (featuring vocals by Máire Brennan from Clannad), ‘Offshore’, ‘Don’t Give Up’ (featuring Bryan Adams) and ‘Stoned In Love’ (with vocals by the legendary Tom Jones). Now, 2021 sees the release of his eighth album, Everything We Had To Leave Behind (released through Modena Records and Armada Music); here’s what we have to say about it…

chicane-everything-we-had-to-leave-behind

Atmospheric is the only way to describe the opening, title track of the album with its rumbling bass, euphoric synths and haunting vocals from Maltese singer Joseph Aquilina.

In fact, atmospheric is an accurate description for much of the album. Having spent the past year writing and recording the record in his studio, there is a real sense of peaceful reflection, hope and even isolation – something so many people can relate to right now.

With this reflection come some tracks which reminisce of a more youthful Chicane yet still manage to show just how much he has grown over the past twenty years or so too. Such tracks include ‘Never Look Back’ with it’s heavy, Chicane-esque synth line and ‘One Foot In The Past, One Foot In The Future’ – a deep house cut that builds beautifully throughout.

This is an album with no fillers, only epic tracks that each have so much to offer. However, some of the standout songs have to be, ‘Sailing’ featuring vocals from Christopher Cross (Bon Ivor) which is an upbeat house anthem that evolves throughout; ‘Don’t Look Down’, an all-consuming, track of ecstasy that although never fully takes off, has highs and lows in all the right places; ‘Now Or Never’ is a rather commercial offering that begs the listener to get up and dance and ‘An Ocean Apart’ has some seriously soaring vocals that ride atop a juddering synth soundscape.

This is an album of epic proportions that is begging to be played loudly and in it’s entirety.

That’s not to say the rest of the record is not filled with gems; ‘8 (Circle)’ has some moments of pure serenity amid a wonderfully chaotic beat and echoing vocals and ‘Juno’ which is pure Chicane goodness that reminds of a crystal-clear summer’s day.

Possibly one of my favourite tracks on the album is the superbly diverse, closing track, ‘Hello, Goodbye’. It offers space for synths that reverberate through you before kicking into a chest-thumping bass-driven beat. It constantly adapts throughout the 7-and-a-half-minute epic whilst still remaining a euphoric daydream.

There’s a wonderful structure that lies at the heart of Chicane‘s latest album, and that’s that you could be basking in the sun one minute and feeling the call to the dance floor the next.

This is an album of epic proportions that is begging to be played loudly and in it’s entirety. It flows beautifully and wholeheartedly captivates the listener from start to finish.

Another wonderful album by a truly talented producer that leaves the listener fulfilled. It’s definitely one to have on repeat this summer!

Rating
5


‘Everything We Had To Leave Behind’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/everything-we-had-to-leave-behind/1553835994


Everything We Had To Leave Behind on Spotify

Everything We Had To Leave Behind (Official Music Video)

Don’t Look Down (Official Music Video)

Hello, Goodbye (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this producer’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.


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#Review: Lucy Spraggan – Choices

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Lucy Spraggan is a singer, songwriter and all-round storyteller, from Buxton, England. She is most notable for her appearances on 2012’s series of X Factor. However, since then, she has built a huge, loyal following, from her debut, independent album release through to this, Choices, her sixth album. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Lucy Spraggan - Choices

Having recently gone through some significant changes in her life; a divorce, lost a significant amount of weight and become sober; there is a lot of material for Lucy Spraggan to write about throughout this record. Musically, it’s incredibly diverse too – this is an album that has a great deal to offer.

It all opens with the rather Western-sounding, ‘Flowers’, which sees Spraggan take on a more provocative tone than we’re used to. Having recently become single and lost three stone, she is keen to show that she’s not always about funny lyrics, but can be more sexy too.

Next comes the very singable ‘Roots’, which sees Spraggan tackle the topic of being unhappy about being told by many to lay down roots somewhere and do the “normal” thing of settling down. She very powerfully identifies this is not for her; for now she doesn’t have any roots and she’s happy with that.

Possibly one of the most powerful songs to ever come from her though, is ‘Sober’ – an acoustic-led track all about her decision to remove alcohol from her life – it’s beautifully honest and takes a real step back to assess her life.

Other tracks that really stand out include: ‘Run To The Hills’, a catchy and simplistic yet forthright song written about the falling apart of her relationship and wanting to get away from it all; ‘Heartbreak Suites’ was also written about the end of her marriage but candidly looks at how a relationship should not become a unit that revolves solely around each other, and in the process forgetting and losing those who matter to you; and ‘You’ve Let Yourself Down’ is a thoroughly different flavour from the rest of the album with its almost tropical house feel to it that I just can’t get enough of.

This is an album of diversity, both lyrically and sonically, and it’s just begging to be played on repeat.

That’s not to say the rest of the album is not incredible too – there’s ‘Animal’ with its Bollywood-style drums that are inspired by Spraggan’s love for working out to bhangra music; ‘I Spent A Night In The Desert’ – an ode to her best friends, that’s also wonderfully uplifting and then there’s ‘Run’ a song about metaphorically and physically running towards something she’s found that she was looking for. Also, ‘If I Had A God’ is an open discussion about what it would be like if she were religious and had a strong faith; it’s inspired by those devout Christians around her, however she has found a power within herself, rather than through an external God.

Title track, ‘Choices’ is a way of summarising the whole record really and sees Spraggan express her happiness at choices she has made and finding a new lease of life without being afraid to be herself – additionally, the harmonies are to die for and the acoustic-led backing track is stunningly intricate.

The album draws to a perfect close with the tale ‘Why Don’t We Start From Here’ – a song she describes as a sequel to 2013’s ‘The Tourist’ from her second album, Join The Club. It’s a song about taking a leap of faith to make a new start, whenever you want it, which is a real inspiration to others.

This is an album of diversity, both lyrically and sonically, and it’s just begging to be played on repeat. It’s exciting in every way and although a lot of inspiration is drawn from her divorce, there is something refreshing about the integrity of her writing and the fact that she has woven a diverse tapestry throughout the sound of the record too. This is a thoroughly strong release and makes for a truly engaging listen. I just can’t wait to see what she produces for album number seven!

Rating


‘Choices’ is out 26/02/21 and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/choices/1534375882


Choices on Spotify

Coming Friday 26th February 2021.

Flowers (Official Music Video)

Animal (Official Music Video)

Sober (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the Lucy’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.


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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.


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#Review: Bars and Melody – Carpe Diem – EP

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Bars & Melody (check out our 2017 interview with the guys, here) first rose to fame as contestants on Britain’s Got Talent in 2014. The pair were automatically sent into the semi-finals of the competition, when Simon Cowell pressed the “golden buzzer” after watching their performance of ‘Hopeful’ (later released as their debut single). The duo ultimately finished in third place in the series but since then have gone on to build a very loyal following and built up a big name for themselves, returning to feature in 2019’s, Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions. To date, they have released 3 albums and a couple of EPs but now 2021 sees the pair take on a new sound with the release of Carpe Diem. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Bars and Melody - Carpe Diem

What is immediately clear from the opening bars of ‘Santorini’ is that this is a new Bars & Melody. The pair have taken on a surprising new sound and one that’s clearly been itching to surface for some time.

Their 2020 album, Sadboi, was a mixture of pop hits and the start of experimenting with a new sound but ultimately was a successful crowd-pleaser in preparation for Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions.

Since then though, the pair have taken the opportunity to go out as independent artists and create something new and altogether more mature in sound, in the form of new EP, Carpe Diem.

This is a mini-album that emanates a new-found confidence.

Throughout the EP, the auto-tune has been applied heavily and the bass and beats are booming, creating a more mumble-rap and at times, even trap-sounding beat – it’s their most credible and urban sound to date. It’s something new and exciting from the pair and undoubtedly shows the type of music they’ve been dying to make for some time, after now not being held back by major labels.

This is a mini-album that emanates a new-found confidence and sees the pair using explicit and at times, even risqué lyrics. It’s a clear departure from their former, squeaky-clean image and sees the pair rapping and singing about more adult concepts.

‘Santorini’ is a sure-fire hit for fans and the pair indicate it being one of their favourites on the EP too, despite it’s risqué lyrics. Meanwhile, ‘Little Missy’ showcases Leondre Devries’ rapping skills and Charlie Lenehan’s lyricism at their best. ‘Own Ways’ is another banger and a great way to end the EP with its thumping bass and its catchy hook.

Some of the lyrics could be thought of as being a little vacuous in places, like ‘No Type’s, “You a perfect 10, yeah” and that of the ‘Russian Model’ chorus but somehow the credibility of the beats and the fact it fits with the genre itself make up for it.

Whatever you think, Devries and Lenehan have demonstrated a new-found maturity and set of writing and rapping skills across the EP, showing that they are diverse and have the longevity to adapt and make something new of themselves. It would just be nice to hear Lenehan with a little less autotune on though as his voice is great without it!

Whilst it’s still somewhat of a shock to hear them now, this is the new-and-improved Bars & Melody and one that leaves me excited for their next full-length album! Let’s hope they don’t keep us waiting too long and continue to grow and develop in sound as they themselves continue to grow up and mature.

Rating
4


‘Carpe Diem – EP’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/carpe-diem-ep/1545462855


Carpe Diem – EP on Spotify

Santorini x Little Missy (Official Music Video)

Own Ways (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the duo’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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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Celeste – Not Your Muse

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Celeste is a British-Jamaican soulful singer songwriter who ahead of releasing her debut album, has already seen a string of successes with the likes of her songs being used in the John Lewis & Waitrose Christmas Advert 2020 and as the theme song for Sky Sports Premiere League. Not Your Muse is her debut album and here’s what we have to say about it…

Celeste - Not Your Muse

The album doesn’t kick off to the best start with a couple of slow, rather forgettable, albeit soulful, tracks and it isn’t until ‘Tonight Tonight’ that the album really kicks into gear. There’s something very Amy Winehouse about the backing track of the song, yet it still remains full of soul; modern soul.

Next comes single and theme to Sky Sports Premier League, ‘Stop This Flame’, an uptempo song with an almost locomotive backing track met by a wonderfully intoxicating vocal in the chorus.

Some of the highlights of the album include: ‘Tell Me Something I Don’t Know’ – an enchanting track with its catchy chorus and the introduction of a brass section towards the end, make it a truly captivating listen; ‘Not Your Muse’ is a beautiful song with its shimmering guitars and ever-evolving, almost chaotic backing track; and ‘Love Is Back’ is another Amy Winehouse-vibed tune that’s upbeat and just a real joy to listen to.

‘Beloved’ is also a beautifully written and intriguing track – it has real Hawaiian vibes to it and in places it’s like the soundtrack to an old romantic film with its string section. There are some seriously powerful falsetto vocals too.

This is a strong debut album, that the more you listen to it, the more you can appreciate just how beautifully crafted and intricate it is.

Unfortunately, ‘A Kiss’, like the first two tracks on the album, is also a somewhat forgettable song that had me reaching for the skip button. However, ‘The Promise’ is beautiful with bird song interwoven throughout.

Of course there’s ‘A Little Love’ which was written and recorded specifically for the John Lewis and Waitrose Christmas advertising campaign, spreading the message of positivity to “give a little love”. She is in fact the first artist to be commissioned to write and perform an original song for the ad, marking another milestone in her unparalleled ascent.

The album draws to a cute close with the acoustic-led ‘Some Goodbyes Come With Hellos’, the perfect closing song for the album.

About the album, Celeste herself said, “Not Your Muse is the power I found when I felt powerless…In making this album I have allowed myself to arrive at a place where I feel empowered, fiercely wide-eyed and fulfilled. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved on my debut album and to be in this position, after the year that has been, I feel nothing but gratitude and excitement.”

Having already achieved the double win of BBC Sound of 2020 and the BRITS Rising Star Award, Celeste has already had some career-defining moments that look set to make her a household name.

This is a strong debut album, that the more you listen to it, the more you can appreciate just how beautifully crafted and intricate it is. It can’t be helped but draw comparisons to Amy Winehouse throughout her debut due to her modern take on soul and occasionally similar style, but somehow, Celeste has created a modern masterpiece that I’m sure will be played on repeat, by many, for years to come.

Rating
4


‘Not Your Muse’ is out now on Polydor and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/not-your-muse-deluxe/1544501544


Not Your Muse on Spotify

Love Is Back (Official Video)

Stop This Flame (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this soulful 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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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: The Young Hearts – The Modern State

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The Young Hearts are an alternative punk rock band from Kent, UK. Recently signed to Year Of The Rat Records, the band have made a name for themselves by extensively touring and sharing stages with the likes of Can’t Swim, Mallory Knox, Junior, Bellevue Days and more. Having already released a string of singles and EPs, 2021 sees the band release their debut album, The Modern State. Here’s what we have to say about it…

The Modern State launches spectacularly with opening track, ‘Wild & Reckless’ – a fast-paced song which is the perfect opener to an album – an epic start with some killer, catchy vocals in the chorus. It’s also the perfect song to open a set with!

‘London’ and ‘Old Familiar’ are possibly the highlights of the album with their sing-along-ability, plus they really give you that urge to want to be packed into a crowded venue, jumping along with others in the audience and singing at the top of your lungs.

‘Cold Nights’ takes on a slightly slower pace in the verses but the chorus is still superbly powerful (like much of the rest of the album). ‘Still Wander’ has some great guitar breakdowns throughout whilst ‘Fool’s Gold’ is a nearly five-minute masterpiece that reminds me of the likes of The Fray yet entirely changes pace around 3 and a half minutes in, to something quite ethereal.

As far as debut albums go, this isn’t perfect, but it’s not far off!

Unfortunately, ‘Swim’ and ‘Anchors’ are somewhat forgettable and that’s not just because they’re slower-paced – they just don’t quite have the same edge as the rest of the album, which is the main reason for the rating below.

However, the album draws to a spectacular conclusion with ‘Don’t Tell A Soul’ – another monumental track that in its last minute, breaks down into a piano and guitar-led epic close that would make the perfect end to a perfect set.

As far as debut albums go, this isn’t perfect, but it’s not far off! It’s got repeat listenability and has a certain quality that keeps you coming back for more. It’s well-produced, catchy and has a diversity of tracks that are highly entertaining to listen to. I would strongly recommend a few listens of this masterpiece debut to really let it sink in, just how brilliant it is.

Rating
4


‘The Modern State’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/the-modern-state/1544490658

Or physical copies can be bought from the band’s website – https://www.theyounghearts.co.uk/shop


The Modern State on Spotify

London (Official Music Video)

Fool’s Gold (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’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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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Less Than Jake – Silver Linings

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Less Than Jake are a ska punk band from Florida, who formed back in 1992. Now with 8 studio albums behind them, the band are gearing up to release their ninth record, Silver Linings. Here’s what we have to say about it…

less-than-jake-silver-linings

2020 has been a rubbish year for everyone but that’s where Less Than Jake come in, with their uplifting collection of upbeat ska-punk anthems.

On Silver Linings, the band truly do make the best of being both ska and punk with the right amounts of brass instrumentation and chugging guitars.

The album opens with the anthemic ‘The High Cost of Low Living’ – it’s a classic Less Than Jake track with a key change at its peak and some insanely cool vocal harmonies right at the end.

‘Lie To Me’ is next up with its punk rock breakdown, whilst ‘Keep On Chasing’ has a wonderfully catchy guitar lick and key change that make for an interesting listen.

Less Than Jake are not breaking any barriers with this record but maybe that’s a good thing.

‘Dear Me’ and ‘Monkey Wrench Myself’ keep energy levels to a maximum with their frantic, mosh-pit-inducing pace, whilst ‘Lost At Home’ significantly changes the tone of the record with its highly skankable vibes.

‘Bill’ is a superb punk rock anthem with its chugging guitars whilst ‘So Much Less’ brings the album to an apt close.

Less Than Jake are not breaking any barriers with this record but maybe that’s a good thing. They’re spreading positivity with their brand of bouncy songs and show us that in times of adversity, there are Silver Linings and hope that there will be good times ahead.

Rating


‘Silver Linings’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/silver-linings/1530304255


Silver Linings on Spotify

Lie To Me (Official Music Video)

Anytime and Anywhere (Official Lyric 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.


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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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#Review: Neck Deep – All Distortions Are Intentional 🍊

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerNeck Deep are a Welsh pop punk band who initially formed in 2012. They quickly released a couple of EPs in 2012 and 2013 before signing to Hopeless Records in the August of 2013. To date, the band have released 3 studio albums and now 2020 sees the release of their fourth, full-length LP, All Distortions Are Intentional. Here’s what we have to say about it…

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From the moment this record starts, with opening track, ‘Sonderland’, it’s obvious that Neck Deep have progressed their sound and lyricism, as we’re hearing a more mature band than on previous albums. This could well be their Coming Home to New Found Glory or Lights Out to Sugarcult. The opening track is quite apt for what’s going on in the world right now too with the bridge line, “These strange times that we live in, Will slowly eat you alive if you don’t fit in.” The new Neck Deep continues with the subtle production quirks and repetitive chorus of ‘Fall’ that has one of those classic, clap-along breakdowns.

That said, there are still some obvious pop punk belters throughout the record too, but somehow there’s a more mature take on them. ‘Telling Stories’ is a great example of this (and one of my favourites on the record) and whilst it’s full of those chugging riffs and fast-paced drums, it does as the title says and tells a variety of stories throughout the track. ‘Sick Joke’ is another favourite of mine and a melancholic look at life but it’s catchy as hell – think All Time Low but with an epic guitar solo. Even single, ‘I Revolve (Around You)’ has it’s classic pop punk elements – it starts out like a ballad which compares the love of two people to the stars and planets but it quickly steps up a gear and explodes into a catchy chorus.

What you get with this record is an evolution of the band trying to create something new and exciting for the genre, and it works…really well!

There’s plenty of other great tracks on the record too; ‘Lowlife’ is an anthem for millennials with its chant-along chorus and grungy riffs, ‘When You Know’ is an infectious love song, that’s upbeat appeal demonstrates the band’s musical progression and further maturity is shown on both ‘What Took You So Long?’ and ‘Empty House’, the latter of which starts with a great melodic acoustic guitar before exploding into a gritty, pop punk riff – like something by New Found Glory.

‘Little Dove’ is a real contender for a fan favourite – it’s just begging to be belted out by a crowd at one of the band’s shows, during a quiet moment in the set. Quirky, not-quite-fitting-the-rest-of-the-record track, ‘Quarry’, is an interlude that changes pace of the record for a moment by becoming a little bit dark and emo – it’s a bit of a self-help track defining the “root of it all” being stress. Album closer, ‘Pushing Daisies’, leaves the listener with a positive outlook and a sense to keep pressing on with their life. In light of the world’s current climate (corona virus and black lives matter protests), there is a real sense of hope and strength in lines such as, “Know that I can change the world, And that’s just how it is.” It ends perfectly, with aggression and a series of “Fuck” various things, that an audience will love to scream out in angst.

Hardcore pop punk fans may struggle with this album if they’re looking for a repeat of Life’s Not Out To Get You or even The Pain And The Panic (however the latter began to see some transitions), but what you get with this record is an evolution of the band trying to create something new and exciting for the genre, and it works…really well! That’s not to say pop punk fans won’t love this record; they definitely will! This is an exciting step in their career and shows real progression in their songwriting and lyricism. A great record that will hopefully lead on to great things!

Rating
4.5


‘All Distortions Are Intentional’ is out 24/07/20 and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/all-distortions-are-intentional/1498663190


All Distortions Are Intentional on Spotify

Coming Friday 24th July 2020.

I Revolved (Around You) [Official Music Video]

Fall (Official Music Video)

Lowlife (Official Music Video)

When You Know (Official Music Video)

Sick Joke (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


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Oliver Tree – Ugly Is Beautiful

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Muzik Speaks Loves Atlantic Records - SmallerOliver Tree is one of those artists it’s hard to define. Whilst there are some who insist that he is nothing more than an internet meme, his artistry is undeniable and there’s something instantly captivating about him. Having released a heap of singles since signing to Atlantic Records in 2017, it’s only now, in 2020, we’re seeing the release of his debut album, Ugly Is Beautiful. Here’s what we have to say about it…

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Ugly Is Beautiful is the first full-length release from Oliver Tree, who announced his early retirement in March 2020 – only to return in May with the announcement of his debut record, after a hacker held Oliver hostage in exchange for 1 million Instagram likes (which he logged in under 24 hours).

Having already been delayed twice (once due to Covid-19 and once due to the George Floyd and anti-racism protests), this highly-anticipated debut album proves to be worth the wait. Whilst his appearance, to some, is outlandish, this internet personality, musician and filmmaker has made a genre-defying record if ever there was one. Right from the off, Oliver Tree makes his way through a wide variety of genres, from alternative indie rock to hip hop and pop punk to electronic with a great sense of conviction that is nothing short of highly infectious.

One thing that is incredibly impressive about Tree, throughout the album, is his ability to ensure the listener doesn’t take any one moment too seriously or equally to pass it off as a joke either, using lyrical whit to guide the way. One such track is ‘Joke’s On You!’ where Tree makes his feelings known in the line, “Well yes in fact, my dignity’s intact, while I listen to ‘em laugh,” – here he is obviously making light of the fact that people often see him as a joke yet he’s made something of himself and maintained his dignity in doing so.

There is definitely a sense of nostalgia about Ugly Is Beautiful.

One of my favourite tracks has to be the distortion-heavy, electronic-laiden ‘1993’ (featuring Little Ricky ZR3), which was an instant favourite for me as it sort of epitomises much of the album. He uses tasteful electronic elements alongside intentional distortion giving it a real grungy, edgy feel – like much of the record. ‘Again & Again’ is another track that uses those gritty, distorted vocal effects but it equally has a certain radio-like quality to it, due to its indie-rock vibes.

There is definitely a sense of nostalgia throughout Ugly Is Beautiful too with tracks like ‘Jerk’ reminiscing of a down-tempo Nirvana song, ‘Bury Me Alive’ with its quick-fire delivery, like that of a Beastie Boys track or the David Bowie-esque qualities of ‘Miracle Man’.

However, the only time Tree feels truly familiar is on his previously-released singles, ‘Let Me Down’‘Alien Boy’ and ‘Hurt’, whilst the rest of the record feels new, exciting and refreshingly undefinable. This is a vision that is truly unique and entirely his – this is less an act and more of a glimour into the world of Tree, through his eyes.

Although Tree insists this is his “magnum opus” and that he is to retire from music and focus on film-making and producing instead, his label (Atlantic Records) say, “Ugly Is Beautiful is only the beginning. Stay tuned for more from Oliver Tree.” So I guess we will just have to wait and see! Either way, it would be a real shame if this were to be all we hear from him again.

Rating
4


‘Ugly Is Beautiful’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/ugly-is-beautiful/1514394064


Ugly Is Beautiful on Spotify

Hurt (Official Music Video)

Let Me Down (Official Music Video)

Bury Me Alive (Official Unofficial Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Oliver Tree’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.


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

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks