#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Amy Studt

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Having just released her third, honest, open and diary-like studio album, Happiest Girl In The Universe (read our review), we had the pleasure of talking to Amy Studt about how it felt to write such a personal record, who she’d most like to work with and even found out about something embarrassing that’s happened to her. It’s all here…

Amy Studt - Happiest Girl In The World


Hey Amy, how’s it going?
Really good actually, thanks! I am really happy and busy. I’m feeling very grateful.

So you’re just releasing your third studio album, Happiest Girl In The Universe. How do you feel prior to dropping a new album and what do you get excited and fear most about it?
Really it is just happiness as the dominant feeling. I have very little to fear as I have very little to lose. I’m excited to tour this album and to generally show it. I feel fairly invincible in a weird way because the things that could be deemed as scary or fearful are things that I am not frightened of losing. It was made for me and in that sense I have already achieved what I was hoping for. I’m not expecting charting or any of that. It was made for me and is a document/book of my journey, thoughts and exorcisms. I feel nothing but joy.

That’s great to hear and it must be a really great feeling, going into the release! The vibe on this record is a lot different to some of your earlier releases. It’s honest, open and pretty dark – like a diary of what you’ve been through mentally and emotionally. What was it like to put pen to paper and write about some of your innermost feelings, so candidly?
It is cathartic. I go into a sort of space where everything else fades out and I am just floating somewhere in words, ideas, thoughts and sounds. It’s this space where nothing and no one else exists (unless invited) and I have complete freedom.

I was always a fairly honest, upfront person, blurting things out but I don’t know prior to the last ten years, how honest within myself/about myself I really was. I had to and wanted to confront myself, shine a light on all of the parts of me that were hiding and causing me and the people around me pain. I had had a lot of partners who were pretty far from honest people, kept a lot of secrets, lied a lot. And when I met Toby Kidd – who I worked on this record with, but who was also initially and for a long time my romantic partner – he was such a breath of fresh air to me. However painful the truth was from him, at times it was like he was incapable of not telling it how it was, logically, intelligently, brutally but beautifully. I found it inspiring. And in a way it released me. So within myself, this desire for raw honesty and self-awareness and self-knowledge, however ugly, disorientated, selfish, broken, vulnerable, whatever it might be, filtered into my writing. I wanted to express what I was going through to try to move on, to get it out of me somehow. And to hopefully find some kind of peace.

Well I think it’s wonderful and hope you are able to find that peace from this masterpiece. Your vocals are very raw in places and you’ve even used some spoken word poetry. What inspired you to be more experimental on this album?
I’ve always been interested in more experimental music. Even as a child, I always liked the more left of centre stuff, though I like all sorts of music, but as I grew older and found my group of people, my group of outsiders and my artistic family, I learnt more, discovered more artists, more music, more genres even, that I connected with. My mind started opening to the possibilities and my style began to naturally shift and re-form simply during the creating process itself.

In the studio my desire to experiment fully took flight during the writing of my second album but I always felt I was slightly restricted somehow by the professional atmosphere and my ideas would rarely be fully formed because of this. I couldn’t just grab an inanimate object from my kitchen to try to use as percussion, or jump into my bed with a microphone under the duvet to record the vocals in the same way. Banging everything in the house or studio to see if it might make an interesting sound. I didn’t have that real, “no limits to express” feeling that I longed for and although I am very proud of that second album, I still feel like it was, to an extent, a compromise.

The things I naturally write at the piano are somewhere between the hooky, singer-songwriter world and the experimental world. And although I am inspired and influenced by many artists, writers, I still think I maintain my own sound. With this album my influences had been more diverse. I’ve always written poetry, so that seemed like a natural fit to include that part of me also. Really, me and Toby and Finn were just enjoying experimenting as much as possible, from playing tuned jars full of water from the house as percussion, to dictaphone recordings from the writing process and us talking, mixed into the final song. Playing with mic’ing techniques or whatever it was that “broke the rules” of what you get told is “correct” or taught at production school. Working with whatever we had and working on the basis of the only rule being the Joe Meek quote, “If it sounds right, it’s right!” It was a lot of pain, a lot of work and a lot of fun.

I love that. I definitely think you have maintained your own sound, and it’s a very refreshing way to go into recording an album…and actually, it’d be nice to see more people experimenting with organic techniques. So, if you could collaborate with any other singers/bands, who would they be and why?

  1. Scott Walker, if I could  somehow bring him back from the dead. He has been such an inspiration to me an incredible writer and pusher of boundaries and what a life he had.
  2. P J Harvey or Polly – however you want to say her name – is the queen of experimental, alternative, female singer-songwriters for me. It would blow my mind to work with her as I have followed and adored her work for years.
  3. Angel Olsen is someone currently, that I love, and is making magic right now. She has this lonesome quality that pulls you in and I’d like to see what we created together.
  4. And here is just a list of others that I would love to work with because there are so many:- Bjork, Amanda PalmerFeist, Cat Power, Aldous Harding, Jesus And Mary Chain, Annie Lennox, Adele (cos I think we could write an epic ballad together), Mazzy Star/Hope Sandoval, etc, etc, etc.

Wow, some amazing people there and some collaborations I’d love to hear! How do we make them happen? Haha. Can you tell me what your usual process for writing/recording is like?
I normally start at the piano. Lots of scraps of paper that I don’t mind wasting, with shit and good lyrics and lots of scratched out and edited ideas. Press record on my voice recorder or dictaphone or if in the studio, the computer with me mic’d up. Then I just play piano for hours non-stop. I shift and move through ideas I’ve had previously, shapes and progressions I’ve never explored before, things I want to see how they sound turned inside out and back to front, until I start to find these nuggets of music that I really like and then eventually focus my attention on those more powerful nuggets and start to develop them. I help them expand and connect with other nuggets I have. It’s like puzzle-making for me. Then with the lyrics, there are usually a few different parts to that. Some are written on train rides in my lyric books, ideas/thoughts I know and feel are strong that have just been waiting for their right time and place to come forward. I usually fairly lovingly keep them quite organised. A lot of lyric ideas are on my phone in a lyrics doc (you never know when it’ll hit and you need to write something down quite quickly) and then there are my messy pages on the piano. I might write in some from my book or phone onto them that feel right with the precious musical nuggets I’m developing. What does this music feel like it’s about? What is the mood? Could I make this work with this idea I’ve been longing to try out. Etc. But I almost never ever think about melody. My melodies all come from improvising the lyrics to the music. It just comes out of me with no pre-thought and is connected to the other components. That’s pretty much how I do it… never written that out before! Must sound boring…

Amy Studt - Press Shot

No, it’s really interesting to hear about how people write their music and yours seems to be quite an experimental, yet methodical process. Besides your own music, what else have you been listening to most recently?
Angel Olsen‘s new album album All Mirrors, Sabina Sciubba, Taylor Swift‘s Lover album, Nina Simone, The Velvet Underground, Janis Ian, The Murder CapitalLykke Li, Kate Bush, Amanda PalmerThere Will Be No Intermission, Chet Baker, James Chance & The Contortions, Heather Woods Broderick, Julia Jacklin, Sharon Van Etten & Max Richter (Thank you iTunes).

Haha, wow what a comprehensive and eclectic mix! Some I will have to check out, for sure! If you had to cover a recent chart song, which song would it be and why?
I literally have no idea what has been in the charts for maybe a decade… I live fairly under a rock. I like to surround myself with the things, music, objects, people, art, films, family, friends the world I have created for myself within this world. I don’t like to read newspapers, and anytime I’ve popped my head out and heard ‘chart’ music I haven’t understood it…which confirms to me that I must now be old. BUT saying that I’m assuming that Taylor Swift’s song ‘Lover’ has been in the charts… gonna check now… yes, it appears it is Number 1 in the States haha. God, I’m so out of the loop. Ok, so I would cover that. I really like that song. I think I could make it my own and it means something between me and my husband as he travels solo sometimes to Iceland and such, and I am always working away from home so we miss each other a lot. I’d like to cover it secretly and send it to him in a letter while I’m away somewhere.

Aw, that’s really cute!!! I bet he’d love it, and I’d love to hear your version of that too! So, when you go out on the road, where are some of your favourite places to perform at?
Scotland is always wonderful vibes. The crowd is always so supportive and powerful to play to. I also had an amazing show in Leeds once, which went completely nuts and really took us by surprise. My old hometown, Bournemouth, is always a strange kind of magic to return to. A mixed crowd of people who want to hate me but find they struggle to and those who have known and loved my music for years and have grown up with me and know things about me that no one else would. They might have lived in the house next to mine or known a boy I dated as a teen etc. But it is always, always nice to play in London. Quiet, connected, respectful, attentive audiences full of love.

Sounds awesome. I remember meeting and seeing you in Guildford once – I do enjoy your shows. I was wondering though, has anything really scary ever happened to you on tour? If so, what?
Not really… I did do a rowdy show in a pub-type building once; very strange gig and got offered a lot of money to play to some very angry drunks. Shouting and talking too loudly so they couldn’t hear us play or me sing. Just shouting “PLAY MISFIT! PLAY MISFIT!!” at me. I just ignored them but when one of the big guys lunged towards me, for whatever his reason (it did look a bit aggressive), thankfully I had my dear best friend Connor MacDonald (who was at that time, my guitarist) who is actually shockingly tough, grabbed him and stopped him mid-song. But I didn’t find it particularly scary. Just carried on singing. Just one of those things that can happen on tour. You never know what each gig will be.

That sounds kind of scary. Why someone would lunge for you on stage is bizarre! So, do you have any pre- or post-show rituals?
Pre-gig everyone has to be as relaxed and normal as possible. If anyone is trying to hype me up pre-gig, they have to go. As little talking as possible so I don’t wear out my voice before the show. Casual chat is fine. I want to walk out onto the stage as if I’m walking into my living room to play piano.

And post-show the first thing I do is have a cigarette, then I head straight out to talk to people who have come out to the show. Some people travel a long way to be there and others it means a lot to them to have a conversation with me as it might be such a long-standing relationship to my music, and in a sense me also. I love hearing about their lives and getting to meet them.

That’s really nice and such a genuine thing to do – not enough artists do that with their fans, though I think more are starting to. I imagine your fans really appreciate your time and dedication to meeting them. OK, so have you got any weird habits we should know about?
I shake a lot naturally from the adrenaline in my body from my anxiety disorder. And one way I deal with my anxiety is biting and picking at everything on me. I’m really very gross. Scabs. I chew the skin off my fingers when my nails run out, I eat my crispy eye sleepy stuff, I’m one of those people that loves watching those videos of people popping giant cysts or of them being removed. I had one on my head once and it was possibly one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I still miss it and touch the area on my head, hoping it’ll come back. Very little grosses me out about the human body. Haha.

Haha. That’s hilarious! I think a lot of people secretly (or not-so-secretly in yours and my case) enjoy watching pimple-popping videos. What are some of your other passions outside of music?
Well apart from giant cysts I guess… I am completely obsessed and passionate about acting, film and theatre. I studied Method acting a few years ago and Meisner Technique all of last year at The Salon Collective at the Cockpit Theatre and it was honestly life-changing. Lit up every part of me and every day I would come home completely alive and raving about what I was learning about the craft and about myself. I made some very special friends also. So I would like to continue my love of those three things moving forward. Acting, Film and Theatre. I used to be obsessed with horror movies growing up and that’s my winning genre for quiz games but when I started getting anxiety, I just couldn’t watch them anymore. But I adore films. Completely nerd out on character study and subtext.

Nice! Love a bit of nerdyness in people and I could see you being a good actress. I hope you get to continue all those passions. Go on then, what really grinds your gears?
Rude people. People who make a mistake and turn around to blame the innocent person. Injustice. Sexism. Racism. Chauvinism. Unkind people.

I agree with all those! What’s one of the most embarrassing things that’s ever happened to you, in life?
Oh so, so many. I’m probably about 11 years old, very self-conscious and terrified of boys at the time, especially older and ‘cute’ boys.

So, there was a phone booth down the road from my house. One fine, summer’s day, I was walking down my road to the shops and a group of older boys crossed the road and began walking towards. Sniggering in hushed voices in anticipation of the dreaded ‘WALK PAST’. God being a kid is so fraught with emotions. Anyway, I couldn’t take the pressure of the build-up, so I decided to dart into the phone booth and pretend to be having a conversation with someone using my very best acting skills. I don’t know about my acting skills, but when the boys walked past they burst into laughter at me, pointing… and to my horror, I realised the phone cable had been cut. So I was talking to an imaginary person on a phone with a cable cut and swaying in the breeze.

That’s amazing! Poor, poor you, but so, so funny.
I have so many other embarrassing stories it could take up a whole article…. Such has been my life and existence as myself.

What’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
Tangerine probably.. I found it really beautiful in all it’s grime and grit but the lives of these people and I felt truly on their side. Great film.

OK, I will definitely check that out – I have heard of it but yet to watch it. If, in say 30 years time, a film was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
Oh Jesus…maybe Juno Temple or Jemima Kirk, Elliot Sumner could probably play me well, Chloe Sevigny, Ellen Page, maybe Eva Green…, Helena Bonham Carter, That should be enough….  I wish someone would make a movie of my life. I don’t think anyone has any idea how crazy my life has actually been… ha

Those would all be cool to see! Weird one now…if you were a chocolate bar, which one would you be and why?
This question is mental. Ok, I would be a gluten and nut free chocolate bar made from raw cacao and coconut butter. Cos yes, I’m one of those.

HA! What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Don’t practice till you get it right. Practice till you can’t get it wrong.”
“It’ll all be alright in the end. And if it isn’t alright, then it isn’t the end.”
Both courtesy of my father Richard Studt.

Great advice, I love those. Well done Father Studt – wise words! Thanks very much for taking the time to chat. All the best with the new album release and upcoming launch show. Next time you’re in Brighton, or nearby, I’d love to watch you perform.
That would be great! Give my Songkick a follow and it’ll let you know first as soon as any new dates come in! And thank you so much!


Amy Studt‘s releases are all available:


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#MellowMonday: KAWALA – ‘Heavy In The Morning’

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Check out our interview with Dan and Jim from KAWALA.

KAWALA started out as a duo in Leeds, comprised of Jim Higson (vocals) and Dan McCarthy (acoustic guitar & vocals). The pair began making their own distinctive sound, comprised of close vocal harmonies and rhythmic finger-style acoustic guitar, taking inspiration from the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club.

Having already made a huge impact on the live scene, the pair are now backed by a full band and are expanding their sound to incorporate atmospheric electric hooks and more tribal-sounding drum patters. They even signed to Virgin EMI earlier this year, releasing their first single with the label, ‘Play It Right’.

Now the band are back with their latest track, ‘Heavy In The Morning’. Whilst the track is more of a return to their original sound, it is fantastic to see just how beautifully their voices compliment one another and how seemingly simplistic background sounds can in fact produce such a dynamic depth to a song.

This is undoubtedly an interesting band to keep an eye on, especially if their most recent singles are anything to go by – their album should be pretty eclectic!

Unfortunately, no music video has emerged yet, but we’ll be sure to update you when one does.

What are your thoughts on this up and coming band? Do you have a #MellowMonday track you could recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Heavy In The Morning’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/heavy-in-the-morning-single/1480786067


#Review: Amy Studt – Happiest Girl In The Universe

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Amy Studt is an English singer, songwriter, musician and actress, who first rose to fame in 2002, with the release of her first single, ‘Just A Little Girl’, followed almost a year later, by ‘Misfit’ and eventually her debut album, False Smiles. Though she’s been through ups and downs in the rather perilous music industry, she is now set to release her third studio album, Happiest Girl In The Universe, independently. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Amy Studt - Happiest Girl In The World

If you knew Amy Studt from her debut album, or even 2008’s Paper Made Men, then you might not instantly recognise her now, as this is quite the far cry from her former artist, self.

Following a breakdown in 2009 and a diagnosis of rapid cycling bipolar, it’s amazing to see how this strong woman, has channeled her mental health, feelings and emotions into a brilliantly artistic project.

Whilst at its core, this record is still Amy Studt, she has created something experimental and unassuming pop music. Happiest Girl In The Universe is a much more mature record than some of her previous releases, dealing with some rather deep emotions and intense feelings. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted – think Lana Del Rey’s more depressing moments…turned up to eleven! That said, she’s crafted something special and undoubtedly therapeutic.

Amy Studt has laid herself bare, with raw, heartfelt vocals and honest, painful lyrics detailing how tortured she has been over the past few years.

If you’re like me, this album might even take you two or three sittings to get through, in order to digest the significance of the messages, understand her crippling depression and comprehend the enormity of the topics, as well as embrace the unusual style of music.

Amy Studt has explored her suffering and documented it like an audio diary – without frills attached! She paints vivid, personal pictures in a most cinematic way, occasionally touching upon moments of hope and redemption.

Her voice remains identifiable, with the occasional twinge of The CranberriesDolores O’Riordan. Possibly one of the best songs is ‘Sleepwalker’, on which she demonstrates a wonderful shouted vocal towards the end of the track, with something Kesha (of all people) about it. There’s a lovely rawness that is almost off-key, but it really doesn’t matter due to the intense delivery. She further demonstrates a tortured scream-like vocal on ‘Violently With Love’, showing off just how impressive her voice is.

‘I Was Jesus In Your Veins’ is a wonderfully diverse track, that seems dark and brooding yet switches to a light-hearted chorus, whilst ‘Let The Music Play’ has a rather twisted-sounding yet catchy chorus.

‘The Water’ stands out for being part spoken word poem, part song, accompanied by a chaotic, hypnotic and rather intense instrumental. Whilst ‘One Is The Only Number’ has haunting, screaming guitars in the background, beautiful falsetto vocals and an underlying, heavy beat, like the pounding of a primal drum on the way to the gallows. Another wonderful track is the rather whispery ‘Troubles Coming In’.

Haunting and haunted are probably the two best words to describe Happiest Girl In The Universe. Amy Studt has laid herself bare, with raw, heartfelt vocals and honest, painful lyrics detailing how tortured she has been over the past few years, creating something mysterious and wonderfully dark, yet utterly captivating. I hope this can put to bed a difficult chapter in her life and that she continues to make music from here – I know I’ll be listening!

Rating
4


‘Happiest Girl In The Universe’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/happiest-girl-in-the-universe/1479696794


Happiest Girl In The Universe on Spotify

Let The Music Play (Official Video)

Overdose (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Amy’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: The Darkness – Easter Is Cancelled ✞

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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:

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#Review: ROAM – Smile Wide 🐟

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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.


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#Review: Mallory Knox – Mallory Knox

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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:

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: The Rocket Summer – Sweet Shivers 🐝

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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
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