#Review: The Darkness – Easter Is Cancelled ✞

facebook_logos_PNG19751.png    ios_homescreen_icon.png   app-icon2.png


The Darkness are an English rock band from Lowestoft, Suffolk who first came to the public’s attention in 2003, with their debut album, Permission to Land. In particular, their debut single, ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’, was a monster hit, reaching Number 2 in the UK Charts. With 5 albums already under their belt, 2019 sees the release of the band’s sixth album, Easter Is Cancelled. Here’s what we have to say about it…

The Darkness - Easter Is Cancelled.jpg

It may have only been a couple of years since The Darkness released their last album, Pinewood Smile, but the band are now back with a bang and have possibly created an even better album than their last!

As with their previous record, the standard edition comes with just 10 tracks, whilst the deluxe edition comes with an extra 4, but that said, the standard version alone, is excellent!

The album opens with single, ‘Rock And Roll Deserves To Die’, a song which starts out quite calm yet epic – almost soundtrack-like – with middle-eastern vibes, alongside an accompanying acoustic guitar. It’s satirical and once it fully kicks in, serves up something very Tenacious D about it, with edgy, hair metal qualities too- especially with the sensational, chaotic guitar solo to finish.

Whilst the album is very much a rock record and clearly, at it’s heart, still very much The Darkness, they have managed to bring some great diversity too. From the wonderful 80s-like guitar licks (with a hint of country vibes thrown in for good measure?!) and sensational falsetto vocals of ‘Live ‘Til I Die’, to the more “middle of the road”, mellow and beautiful tones of ‘In Another Life’ – a great, acoustic-driven, country-style power ballad with clean guitars in the verses and a slightly heavier chorus; Easter Is Cancelled could easily become a classic album for the more recent era of the band.

It certainly has its quirks too though – ‘Deck Chair’ is a serious-sounding, acoustic-led ballad about…a deck chair! Whilst the subject matter is somewhat insincere, there’s a very Queen/Freddie Mercury quality to this song. It’s particularly hilarious when whispered French vocals come in, as well as shimmering guitar effects and plucked violins. ‘Choke On It’ seeks Hawkins sing about gold diggers riding off their success and even busts out a random northern accent at one point before pulling off a strong chorus with his trademark falsetto voice and gritty gang vocals to accompany. Additionally, ‘Easter Is Cancelled’ feels very old school metal, with some great gang vocals, yet is possibly the weakest track on the album – whilst it is still good and the guitar lines are great, it’s just not as strong as the rest of the record, despite being the title track.

Easter Is Cancelled could easily become a classic album for the more recent era of the band.

Moments that impress most are the surefire, new fan-favourite (and mine too!) ‘How Can I Lose Your Love’; sweeping, grungy synths open and build as if it’s going to be an intense beat, before becoming a suddenly, more calm chorus. It’s unusual to have a fast verse and slow chorus – such a great, unexpected yet catchy-as-hell track. ‘Heart Explodes’ is dramatic with wailing, ghost-like vocals during the breakdown and haunting guitar solos too. Also, ‘Heavy Metal Lover’ is a hilariously witty track about a lover being really into heavy metal. Juxtaposition is rife with chaotic and heavy metal-inspired, guitar breakdowns following the sweet-sounding, lovey-dovey, harmony-filled choruses.

The album draws to a strong close with ‘We Are The Guitar Men’, a lyrically diverse ode to the band’s guitars, demonstrating great personification, as though the guitar a beautiful woman. The chorus feels full of nostalgia, like a solid 80s rock tune, blending electric and acoustic guitars, with the occasional synth thrown in too. Ascending vocals lead into a lovely show-off guitar solo at the very end of the track.

I remain captivated by The Darkness, even after them having been around for 16 years now. And sure, they are predominately a modern, not-so-slightly tongue-in-cheek version of a 70s/80s rock band, that doesn’t often deviate from the recipe for their successes, but somehow they are still great to listen to and bring about just enough diversity in each of their records, to still keep them fresh and their fans interested, that you can’t help but love them.

Whilst the band have not had another Number 1 album since their debut, Permission To Land, I’m sure that this record will still do very well and hopefully become a modern classic and fan favourite, since the band reunited in 2011…it’s near perfect!

Rating
4.5


‘Easter Is Cancelled’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/easter-is-cancelled-deluxe/1473988829


Easter Is Cancelled on Spotify

Rock And Roll Deserves To Die (Official Video)

Heart Explodes (Official Video)


THE DARKNESS ‘EASTER IS CANCELLED’ 2019 TOUR

The band are also heading out on tour across November and December 2019. Tickets are available here.

NOVEMBER
26th – Belfast, Limelight
27th – Dublin, Academy
29th – Nottingham, Rock City

DECEMBER
1st – Birmingham, O2 Academy
2nd – Leicester, O2 Academy
3rd – Southend, Cliffs Pavilion
5th – Norwich, UEA
6th – Cambridge, Corn Exchange
7th – Bath, Pavilions
9th – Portsmouth, Pyramids
10th – Brighton, Dome
11th – Watford, Colosseum
13th – Manchester Academy
14th – Newcastle, O2 Academy
15th – Glasgow, O2 Academy
17th – York, Barbican
18th – Liverpool, O2 Academy
20th – London, Roundhouse


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s sixth 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

#Review: ROAM – Smile Wide 🐟

facebook_logos_PNG19751.png    ios_homescreen_icon.png   app-icon2.png


Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerROAM are a British pop punk band from Eastbourne, consisting of members Alex Costello (vocals), Alex Adam (lead guitar and backing vocals), Matt Roskilly (bass), Sam Veness (rhythm guitar) and Miles Gill (drums). The band formed in 2012, signed to Hopeless Records in 2014 and already have 2 albums under their belt. Now, 2019 sees the release of the band’s third album, Smile Wide. Here are our thoughts on their latest record…

ROAM - Smile Wide

Smile Wide kicks off with ‘Better In Than Out’ – a guitar-chugging anthem with an understated verse that leads right into an intense yet edgy chorus. A slightly darker tone than their previous album and a great way to launch into the record.

Next comes single, ‘I Don’t Think I Live There Anymore’, a great demonstration of their dual vocals and a pretty cool guitar solo – there’s something quite American indie band about it, again demonstrating a more diverse side to their sound.

One thing is for certain, since their previous release, Great Heights & Nosedives, the band have certainly done what I thought they needed to – adapted their sound and tried to bring some new things to the pop punk table – and it’s worked well. Whilst at its core, this is still a pop punk band, there are some moments of diversity and differences of tone that make this a slightly more mature and interesting album to listen to.

Smile Wide showcases just how far the band have come and how they have spent time developing their sound.

For example, ‘Play Dumb’ is a much heavier track than we might otherwise have become used to hearing from ROAM, and it sounds great! ‘Toy Box’ is a cleverly-written track about not being cast aside by clever use of metaphors, with a sensational breakdown at the bridge, whilst closing track, ‘Turn’, is very different in tone to the rest of the album. It’s much more middle of the road rock, than pop punk but nevertheless a beautiful track that stands out from the rest with its rather mellow, reflective and positive vibes and lyricism, making it a wonder end to the record.

There’s no mistaking the British roots of this band either, with their rather over-pronounced British accent on tracks like ‘The Fire On The Ceiling’ and ‘Red & Blue’ – both great pop punk songs with the latter using more grungy guitar sounds and the album’s title appearing within the lyrics.

One track in particular that possibly stands out for being quite poor, is ‘Loud’ – the lyrics are not well written and the guitar sound is pretty shrill and unpleasant to listen to, however I’m sure pre-teen emos will adore it.

Conversely, the two best tracks have to be: ‘Piranha’ – a very Simple Plan-esque song with funky rhythms and very chantable vocals. What stands out even more is how it switches up pace part way through, showing another improvement to their evolving sound. This could really be an iconic live track for the band; and then there’s ‘Hand Grenade’ – it has an excellent, calm intro that leads straight into rapid-pace drums and long, held vocal notes sure to have people belting it out. In particular, the imagery of the lyrics resonates wonderfully with listeners and great gang, “na na na,” chants take us right to the end.

ROAM have done a great job with this album; Smile Wide showcases just how far the band have come and how they have spent time developing their sound, testing the waters of something new, but whilst still keeping their roots in the genre they know so well. Considering these developments over just a couple of years, I wonder what they’ll sound like in a couple more?! I certainly can’t wait to hear what they do next, can you?

Rating
4


‘Smile Wide’ is out 06/09/19 and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/smile-wide/1468023906


Smile Wide on Spotify

Coming 06/09/19.

I Don’t Think I Live There Anymore (Official Music Video)

Piranha (Visual)


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
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks

#Review: Mallory Knox – Mallory Knox

facebook_logos_PNG19751.png    ios_homescreen_icon.png   app-icon2.png


Mallory Knox are an alternative rock band from Cambridge and began as a five-piece back in 2009. Following the release of their third album, Wired, news came that lead vocalist, Mikey Chapman, was leaving the band in 2018. With co-lead vocalist, Sam Douglas, taking up the post of lead vocals, alongside the other three original band members; James Gillett (rhythm guitar & backing vocals), Joe Savins (lead guitar & backing vocals) and Dave Rawling (drums), the band are back with their self-titled fourth album (Mallory Knox) as a four-piece. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Mallory Knox - Mallory Knox.jpg

It was a brave choice for Sam Douglas to step into the position of lead vocals, as vocally he is quite different to Mikey Chapman, but he’s certainly come in all guns blazing on lead track, ‘Psycho Killer’ – a massive, garage rock sounding track with a hint of Foo Fighters about the vocals throughout, before careening into a heavy guitar breakdown at the end.

This is certainly a more raw and gritty album than some of their previous releases, with tracks like ‘The World I Know’ taking sonic influences from noughties punk rock and adding in grungy elements and ‘Wherever’ with its muscle guitars and intense drums, giving the illusion of travelling at speed.

Lead single, ‘White Lies‘, has a bit more of an indie feel to it than a lot of the rest of the record and is clear to see why it was chosen to launch the album.

Also, ‘4’ is quite commercial with its “Na, na, nas” and lyrics about vacuous pop market and record labels, such as, “You never mattered anyway.” Is it addressing negativity they have faced and the fact they band went from 5 members to 4, as the track title might suggest? Not sure. You’ll have to make up your own mind on that.

Possibly some the best tracks on the album are: ‘Livewire’ which has changes in pace throughout and echoing breakdowns to really get the listener going; ‘Freaks’ has some really interesting melodies with guitar frills, captivating (and sometimes aggressive) vocal acrobatics (with some serious power behind them) and a great all-round tone to it and ‘Black Holes’ with its chugging guitars and yet more, distinctly Foo Fighters vibes in the intense, shouty chorus.

It’s a risk to continue as a four-piece, with someone new taking up the role of lead vocalist, but it appears to have paid off.

By far, the best track on the album is ‘Gut’ – it’s an intense, fast-paced close to the album, with some insane vocal harmonies, brilliant drums and fast guitars – it’s a generally chaotic moment of ecstatic mosh-out madness that fans are sure to love live.

There are definitely moments when you can tell Douglas doesn’t quite have the power behind his voice that he might have liked and even one track (‘Heartbreak Lover’) that feels like his vocal is lacking in energy – albeit it’s a very commercial-sounding track with a guitar line that plays around the same melody as the chorus.

Additionally, there are the odd places here and there that lyrically feel a bit flat and not quite written with as much depth or maturity as perhaps you might like (‘Fine Lines’ with its candid take on a relationship breakdown) and other tracks, such as ‘Radio’ that are a little forgettable but overall, it’s a solid effort from the now quartet.

It’s been a risk to continue as a four-piece, with someone new taking up the role of lead vocalist, but it appears to have paid off. The album is consistently confident in its approach and hopefully with have old fans excited and on board for the ride as well as pick up new fans with their edgier sound.

Rating


‘Mallory Knox’ is out 16/08/19 and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/mallory-knox/1461295820


Mallory Knox on Spotify

White Lies (Official Music Video)

Livewire (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s fourth 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:

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


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

#Review: The Rocket Summer – Sweet Shivers 🐝

facebook_logos_PNG19751.png    ios_homescreen_icon.png   app-icon2.png


The Rocket Summer is the solo project from singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Bryce Avary. Since self-releasing his first EP in 2000, at the age of 17, Avary has gone on to release a total of 7 EPs, 7 full-length albums and a live album too! Now, 2019 sees the release of his seventh studio album, Sweet Shivers. Here’s our thoughts on it…

The Rocket Summer - Sweet Shivers.jpg

From the offset, it’s clear that Sweet Shivers is a much more experimental album than his previous efforts, thought it’s still distinctly The Rocket Summer.

We’re instantly thrown in at the deep end with opening track, ‘Morning Light’, a much darker introductory track than some of his previous efforts – there’s a twinge of a more mainstream Nine Inch Nails vibe to it!

We’re then led nicely into ‘Shatter Us’– whilst I’m not keen on the trumpet-like synth effect, the vocal melodies in the chorus and the plonky piano are incredible, especially paired with the very personal lyrics.

‘Blankets’ is possibly one of my favourite tracks on the album – the full-on verses are juxtaposed by the beautifully whispered chorus, making it powerful and captivating. Melodically it is a stunning track and has something a bit Biffy Clyro about it.

We’re then treated to ‘Gardens’ – like an experimental pop track where Avary has clearly played around with production – Jamiroquai inspirations seem to come through in places. ‘Peace Signs’ has a lovely yet simple, descending guitar melody that loops throughout and a strong vocal melody to the chorus. And in the spirit of looping, ‘5 4 3 2 1 Z’ has a looping piano melody, combined with brass sounds and an understated vocal melody. Maybe the most commercial-sounding track on the record, though it completely changes pace two-thirds of the way through before coming back to the original chorus.

‘Wannalife’ then seems to act as an interlude between the first and second half of the record. A nice little acoustic number about his life’s desires.

Overall though, this is a well-written, if slightly more experimental album, that could divide the fans.

As a long-time lover of The Rocket Summer, it pains me to say that ‘Sweet Shivers’ is very much an album of two halves – the first half being a lot stronger than the second. The second half has a lot of melodies that kind of blend into one.

Additionally, throughout the record, there are some rather quirky synth sound choices that I’m not convinced work, at times sounding a little cheap and underwhelming.

‘Slomo’ and ‘Keep Going’ are both pretty forgettable, while ‘Together In TX’ has an edgy breakdown, which stopped me from skipping the track. ‘Apartment 413’ has a dark melody and this is lyrically reflected in the tone too.

It’s the final two tracks that are saving graces for the latter part of the record. ‘World’s Greatest’ has some great deep vocal melodies and heavy bass synths with an amazing breakdown that continually builds back up to the end of the track. Whilst ‘m & m’ is possibly the strongest track in the second half, bringing the album to a strong close – there are intense vocal melodies and a fast-paced drum beat, plus funky guitar riffs and a Busted-esque synth at the end. A great track to end on!

Overall though, this is a well-written, if slightly more experimental album, that could divide the fans. That said, there are plenty of moments to enjoy, so fans will still find parts they love. I’m certainly still a lover of The Rocket Summer and appreciate his artistic license to be experimental, but I hope his next record might return a little more to his roots.

Rating


‘Sweet Shivers’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/sweet-shivers/1473282206


Sweet Shivers on Spotify

Morning Light [Official Music Video]

Shatter Us (Official Music Video)

Blankets (Official Music Video)

Peace Signs (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of The Rocket Summer’s latest album? Do you share the same opinions 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

#EventSpeaks: Kate Nash @ Concorde 2, Brighton – 31/07/19

facebook_logos_PNG19751.png    ios_homescreen_icon.png   app-icon2.png


On Wednesday 31st July 2019, Kate Nash returned to Brighton to put on another outstanding show, following the release of her 2018 album, Yesterday Was Forever and was supported by the punk quintet, The Menstrual Cramps.


The Menstrual Cramps

The band took to the stage, instantly packing a punch with their all-female brand of punk – think traditional punk rock but with some kick-ass girls showing who’s boss! The lead singer, Emilia Elfrida, was consistently hilarious with her crowd banter between songs and even shared some more personal insights, such as sexual assault she experienced and a song she wrote about it. As per traditional punk, there’s a lot of political messages behind their songs but one I loved in particular was a song, ‘Neo-Nazi’, written specifically for the crowds of an upcoming festival they’re playing at, to get back at them for the death threats and general unpleasantness they received the last time they played there!

Highlight: The energy of the band’s set (in particular the wit of Emilia) and the no-holds-barred approach to their lyricism and addressing of political and social issues! Well worth a watch.


Kate Nash

Right from the offset, there was something instantly better and more high energy about this set than the last time Kate Nash performed in Brighton. That’s not to say she wasn’t great back in 2017, but this time, there seemed to be a real buzz of excitement and a new lease of life to her set, which just instantly created an electric atmosphere throughout the crowd.

Following the release of her 2018 album, Yesterday Was Forever, the audience were treated to a whole host of new and old material in all the right doses. On several occasions, Kate shared the gratitude for her fans’ continued support throughout what has recently been shared (in her rather personal documentary – Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl – via BBC3) as quite a tumultuous period in her life. She also addressed her own personal struggles with mental health and how she believes that everyone should take time to talk about their own mental well-being, before performing, ‘Musical Theatre’ – a wonderfully personal account of her inner-most thoughts.

Naturally, in amongst her newer songs, the performance was interwoven with traditional hits such as ‘Mouthwash’, ‘Pumpkin Soup’, ‘Dickhead’ and ‘Foundations’. There was even a little medley thrown in for good measure, followed by an insanely fast version of ‘Mariella’ and just had the audience going crazy! The speed she performed it at was actually very impressive to behold!

Even though she is already a professional performer, this particular set/tour demonstrated just how much she’s grown as an artist and songwriter but also how much she has honed her live shows. I strongly recommend catching her at your earliest opportunity – you don’t even need to know all her songs, she’s just instantly bewitching!

Highlights:

  • Kate’s energy level was consistently high and her interaction with both the audience and her incredible band, made for a great watch all round. She always makes sure that her band are as much in the forefront as she is.
  • Kate’s vocal performance was stunning; from her beautifully powerful high notes to the delivery of her quirky, trademark, too-many-words-for-one-line lyricism, she was on point throughout.
  • I particularly loved watching her personal performance of ‘Musical Theatre’ – it’s not only got a strong message but her delivery of the song’s lyrics was sensational.
  • Her sense of style was as to be expected – interesting and out there, but oh so perfect.
  • At the end of the set (before the encore), Kate even got off the stage and into the front of the crowd to sing amongst her fans, which made them go wild.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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


 Setlist

Play
Life In Pink
Mouthwash*
Sister
Trash
Always Shining
Musical Theatre
Agenda
We Get On
Kiss That Grrl / Shit Song / Later On
Mariella
My Little Alien
Pumpkin Soup
Foundations*

Encore
Dickhead
Underestimate The Girl

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


Finally, I want to say a great big thanks to Patrick from Lout Promotions for sorting out this review, to Michael Hundertmark for his snaps and lastly, to Kate Nash, her band and The Menstrual Cramps for their amazing performances!


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

Muzik Speaks Live Reviews


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

#Playlist: Brighton Pride Weekender 2019

facebook_logos_PNG19751.png    ios_homescreen_icon.png   app-icon2.png


Brighton Pride is fast approaching, so to celebrate, we have updated our Brighton Pride Weekender playlist, dedicated to one of the city’s biggest annual events, promoting equality and diversity with the aim to eliminate discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and more (LGBT+) community.

This playlist has been lovingly crafted to include a variety of tracks, by the artists performing at Brighton Pride 2019, as well as some other great anthems!

If you already own the songs and want the custom artwork, please feel free to copy/download it below:

Brighton Pride Weekender 2019.jpg


We hope you enjoy this playlist as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it!

Please share the link to this post, or the playlist itself and give it a cheeky follow on Spotify too – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5nXqTcFL05VwLPppVaNIE6?si=copqGaOHQFi0lnhz6HYV8w.

Also, if you’ve got any songs you want to suggest for us to add, please let us know 🙂

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

#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with John Gibbons

facebook_logos_PNG19751.png    ios_homescreen_icon.png   app-icon2.png


I recently had the privilege of doing a Skype interview with Irish producer and remixer, John Gibbons, following the release of his latest single and cover of the massive 1994, ‘Hotstepper’.

We spoke all about how some of his cover versions came to be, who he’d most like to collaborate with, what his passions are outside of music and one of his most embarrassing moments on stage. It’s all here…



John Gibbons‘ releases are all available:


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

Muzik Speaks Interviews