#Review: Against The Current – Past Lives ūüĎĀ


   

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Against The Current are¬†an American¬†pop rock¬†band from¬†New York, who formed in 2011. The band is made up of Chrissy Costanza (lead vocals), Dan Gow (guitars)¬†and Will Ferri (drums). The band are notable for regularly posting covers on YouTube as well as delighting fans with original tracks too. In 2016, after signing to¬†Fueled By Ramen, the band released their debut album, In Our Bones. Now, 2018 sees the band releasing their second full-length record,¬†Past Lives. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Against The Current - Past Lives.jpg

This stunningly diverse and charming record opens with the almost haunting ‘Strangers Again’, dealing with getting over a relationship and cutting ties. The guitar line is dreamy and the vocal breakdown towards the end is a rather quiet and personal moment that really draws you in. It’s a brilliant way to open a record; it doesn’t go in all guns blazing but instead captivates the audience with its beautiful soundscapes.

Next is probably the best track on record, ‘The Fuss’. With Daft Punk-esque, 80s synths, funky guitar rhythms and one hell of a catchy chorus, this is a track you will just want to play really loud and dance like mad to!

Other significant songs include: ‘I Like The Way’ – a track all about new love that almost reaches EDM territory with its strong piano line. It’s something you might expect from the likes of Sigala‘s¬†Easy Love or¬†Sweet Lovin’; ‘Voices’ is a slightly more grungy offering about being self-conflicted and trying to ignore the internal voices (which is reflected perfectly with whispering backing vocals) – it’s very¬†Paramore¬†meets¬†Fickle Friends,¬†whilst¬†‘Scream’ is a rather floaty and dreamy song – for some reason it evokes images of the perfect all-American family from the 1960s (no idea why!) It’s an uplifting yet subtle track; I keep finding myself going back for more.

‘Personal’ has a Taylor Swift-like quality to it and the production is incredible – the vocal harmonies sit beneath the rest of the production in the chorus, but it’s truly enchanting.¬†‘P.A.T.T.’ (short for Pretty All The Time)¬†is an out and out female empowerment anthem – it’s fast-paced, punchy and relatively simplistic but the message is fun and powerful about girls feeling like they should be allowed to be themselves without having to look “pretty all the time”…calling all, “Girls!”

It’s an impeccably well-crafted record which has very successfully merged the boundaries between dance, pop and rock music, with a sprinkling of 80s vibes on top.

Lastly,¬†‘Friendly Reminder’ is another notable song, it’s certainly an album track rather than a potential single but the use of a phaser effect on the vocals and an epic clap-along chorus towards the end make it really stand out…again, there’s a big 80s vibe to it.

What Against The Current manage to do so well throughout, is take you on a journey with them; when they’re soaring high, you’ll feel all the sparks of excitement with them brought about with big synth sounds, intense beats and tons of reverb but equally when melancholy reigns, you’ll feel their heartache too.

Whilst I could say something about every track on the record, I won’t – you just need to experience it for yourself.¬†I really can’t recommend this highly enough…the only reason it didn’t get a 5 is because there are one or two less stand-out, album-fillers but even those are pretty damn good. It is very much an album which marks a band that have found their feet; they’ve created something wonderfully catchy yet utterly credible with sincere lyricism, interesting melodies and top-notch production.

It’s an impeccably well-crafted record which has very successfully merged the boundaries between dance, pop and rock music, with a sprinkling of 80s vibes on top; it’s difficult to pigeonhole this band…in a good way! It’s a truly exciting time for the band; this will certainly make waves in the genre and undoubtedly pave an exciting path for their future!

Rating
4-5


‘Past Lives’¬†is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/past-lives/1425108766


Past Lives on Spotify

Almost Forgot (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this band’s sophomore release, Past Lives? 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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#EventSpeaks: Erasure @ Brighton Dome, Brighton – 19/02/18


   

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On Monday 19th February 2018,¬†Erasure arrived in Brighton, on their¬†World Be Gone Tour, performing at Brighton Dome. The duo were supported by Welshman, Rod Thomas‘ moniker,¬†Bright Light Bright Light¬†– it was an incredible show!


Bright Light Bright Light

Rod Thomas and his band mates took to the stage and put on a fantastic show, performing his own unique brand of electro-pop – it’s a combination of contemporary pop music, with an 80s tint to it; clearly inspired by bands such as¬†Scissor Sisters and¬†Erasure themselves. The use of modern technology produced a really full sound to the performance and filled the concert hall. The songs were well written, but there were a couple of songs that I felt blended into one. Undoubtedly¬†Bright Light Bright Light¬†has a big following and has worked with some incredible people but I was looking for a couple of stand-out tracks that I wanted to come home and listen to, which unfortunately I didn’t really find.

Highlight: The incredible harmonies Rod performed with himself (using his pads) as well as the brilliantly vibrant suit he wore.


Erasure

Erasure were incredible! Having been in the public eye since the 80s, this duo are clearly professionals at what they do, but it seems to come so naturally to them;¬†Vince Clarke, although almost a silent partner when it comes to fronting the duo, clearly puts a lot of effort into his performance and production of the backing tracks, whilst¬†Andy Bell is the camp, extroverted individual, fronting the outfit. Somehow though, it just works – whilst they might appear to be polar opposites of stage personality, I loved it…and so did the audience!

The pair were accompanied by two sensational backing singers who produced some incredible vocal harmonies alongside Andy and altogether, they performed a string of hit after hit.

The stage lighting was excellent and felt a bit like a club and the different combinations of light movements and colours helped add some visual diversity to the set.¬†Andy‘s gradual removal of his clothes, down to his catsuit was very funny and lead to screams and cheers throughout the building.

Naturally, performances of songs like¬†‘Chains of Love’,¬†‘Phantom Bride’,¬†‘Sometimes’ and of course,¬†‘A Little Respect’, brought the house down, but they made sure to not only pack out their setlist but fill it with a wide range of career-spanning tracks to ensure there was something for everyone.

I can’t recommend seeing¬†Erasure highly enough – whether you know just a track or two, or their whole back catalogue, they do not disappoint. You are guaranteed to have a fun-filled evening of dancing, singing and laughing.

Highlights:

  • Andy Bell‘s sassy, between-song banter, was on point! He knew his audience and was hilarious from start to finish.
  • The sheer tightness of their performance just highlighted how professional this duo are.
  • The vocal harmonies between¬†Andy Bell and his backing singers was marvellous.
  • The string of hits they performed has the audience singing and dancing throughout the show.
  • Andy Bell‘s gradual removal of his clothing, down to his catsuit, was hilarious – it certainly made a statement.
  • Lastly, the set design was pretty cool too – the lighting was amazing and I particularly loved that¬†Vince Clarke¬†was able to do his thing from an elevated platform throughout the set.

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 Setlist

Oh L’Amour
Ship Of Fools
Breathe
Mad As We Are
Just A Little Love
In My Arms
Chains Of Love
Sacred
Sweet Summer Loving
I Love Saturday
Victim Of Love
Phantom Bride
World Be Gone
Who Needs Love Like That
Take Me Out Of Myself
Blue Savannah
Atomic (Blondie Cover)
Drama!
Stop!
Love You To The Sky
Always
Here I Go Impossible Again
Sometimes*

Encore
A Little Respect*

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


Finally,¬†I want to say an absolutely¬†HUGE¬†thanks to Thom Williams for setting up this review and to both Erasure and Bright Light Bright Light for their incredible performances. Oh…and Alan Carr for taking the time to have a couple of selfies with me!

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#ThrowbackThursday: Darren Hayes – ‘On The Verge Of Something Wonderful’


   

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It’s been a decade since¬†Darren Hayes¬†released the first single from his third album (This Delicate Thing We’ve Made),¬†‘On The Verge Of Something Wonderful’.

It is a truly captivating song with some fantastic trademark highs in Hayes’ voice – it’s a powerful and emotive track that really stood apart from the rest of mainstream music at that time, by reigniting the 80s sound.¬†The track (and in fact the rest of the album)¬†was recorded with the help of a 1983¬†Fairlight CMI¬†synthesizer.

It reached Number 20 in the UK charts and not only did the song have a very 80s feel to it but so did the video. The music video contains a cameo appearance by Janice Dickinson and features Darren singing in front of a series of animated backdrops Рit is reminiscent of the Max Headroom TV series, certain scenes from the film Electric Dreams and the graphics of some Atari brochures from the early 80s.

Do you have some great memories of this track? Have you got a #ThrowbackThursday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘On The Verge Of Something Wonderful’¬†can be downloaded off¬†iTunes now –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/on-the-verge-of-something-wonderful/id717145078?i=717145484


#MellowMonday: Charlie Cunningham – ‘Minimum’


   

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Charlie Cunningham¬†is currently making big waves on Spotify with his debut album,¬†Lines, but in particular, his single,¬†‘Minimum’ which is featured on many playlists across the platform.

After a string of EPs and gaining a steady following over the past two years, the London-based singer-songwriter released his debut album, at the beginning of this year.

There’s a hint of flamenco guitar playing but in a more placid way and his vocals are soulful and echoey; reminiscent of some¬†80s vocalists – Crowded House come to mind.

This guy has a lot to offer in a world of Tropical House, Trap and EDM – something different, honest and artistic – definitely one to watch.

No official video has been released, but we’ll update you if one emerges.

What are your thoughts of this singer-songwriter? Got a #MellowMonday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Minimum’¬†can be downloaded off¬†iTunes now –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/minimum/id1164525226?i=1164525372


#Review: Leah McFall – INK (Mini Album)


   

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Leah McFall first came to the public attention as a runner-up on the second series of The Voice UK, back in 2013. Since then, she’s been busy crafting her sound and has finally released her first¬†mini album,¬†INK, which she will be touring throughout the UK,¬†this month.

Leah McFall - INK

The title track,¬†Ink’, is also the opening track of the mini album; it’s a subtle, laid-back song with haunting melodies and incredibly well-placed backing vocals that add a interesting depth to it. The song (and several others on the record) has strong resemblances with¬†NAO.

‘Happy Human’ is an uplifting, full-on track with a positive message.¬†‘Bottle It’ stands out for it’s edgy sound – similar to the current tropical house trend but with her own, unique interpretation.¬†‘Colours At A Funeral’ is a raw, emotional song that has a deep soulfulness to it and is followed by another stand-out song, ‘Language’;¬†the latter is a great song, probably the most poppy song (and my personal favourite) on the record.¬†It’s a quite a blend of late 80s and 90s pop sounds and has that feel-good factor about it.

The closing track is¬†Leah‘s first, independently released single,¬†‘Wolf Den’, which boasts an upbeat, quirky sound and really showcases just what she can do with her voice; whistle notes and all. It’s the perfect end to the whole mini album.

The production throughout, is what I’d describe as¬†subtle yet intricate – it doesn’t scream out pop and it can’t easily be pigeon-holed, but that’s¬†what makes it such a fantastic release. It’s very dreamy with seemingly simplistic production (although that’s most definitely not the case); it’s been impeccably well produced and each song makes an impact in a different way. Leah‘s¬†powerful vocals and delicate ad libs have been layered beautifully and weave stunningly around the instrumentation, creating euphoric highs and emotionally-driven lows throughout the entirety of the record. It is an honest offering and almost exposes a vulnerability about the singer. This is undoubtably something fans will appreciate; an insight into her world.

In summary, this mini album has a lot to offer and is a very strong independent release that’s currently charting highly on the UK iTunes charts. Although she may not have won The Voice UK, her talent definitely outshines any other contestant to have graced the show previously or since.¬†This release is a symbol of what fan power, self-belief and determination can achieve and her every success is deserved! Let’s hope a full-length album follows, and soon!

Rating
5


‘INK’¬†is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/ink-ep/id1206458926


INK on Spotify

INK on YouTube

Wolf Den (Official Video)

Bottle It (Official Video)

Happy Human (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review¬†of Leah McFall’s release! What do you think of the mini album? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it? 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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#Two4Tunesday: Khalid – ‘American Teen’ & Alessia Cara – ‘How Far I’ll Go’


   

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Khalid – ‘American Teen’

Khalid has just released his debut album, American Teens. The title-track from the album is also his most recent single and its got a very 80s movie feel to it with its twinkling, phasing space-like synths.

His voice is sorrowful and soulful at the same time – this track is not your standout pop track but is subtle in its approach. It’s a great song taken from a fantastic debut album. This looks set to be the start of a beautiful career.

Watch the music video below too – artistic and film-like in its own way.


‘American Teen’¬†is¬†on¬†iTunes for downloading now! –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/american-teen/id1200868601?i=1200868616



Alessia Cara – ‘How Far I’ll Go’

Taken from Disney’s¬†Moana,¬†Alessia Cara‘s version of¬†‘How Far I’ll Go’¬† is a superb take on the song from the film. It’s not like the old R&B versions they so often used to roll over the credits of 90s Disney films – it’s very current with a tropical house vibe to it.

The song is great and still performing well on the Spotify charts, and whilst I thoroughly love the tune, it’s got a slightly disjointed feel to it as it appears to speed up and slow down. Nevertheless a great song, it is!

‘How Far I’ll Go’¬†can also be downloaded from iTunes now! –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/how-far-ill-go-alessia-cara-version/id1169181309?i=1169182769


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#ThrowbackThursday: Dead Or Alive – ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’ (R.I.P. Pete Burns)


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After the tragic loss of¬†Pete Burns earlier this week, it seems only fitting that this week’s #ThrowbackThursday is¬†Dead Or Alive‘s¬†‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’.

The song was released back in 1984 and was later featured on their 1985 album Youthquake. The track reached Number 1 in the UK charts after 17 weeks of climbing and it has been re-released a handful of times since then; most recently in 2006 when it reached Number 5 again. It was also the first Number 1 hit to be produced by the Stock Aitken Waterman (Mike Stock, Matt Aitken & Pete Waterman) production trio.

The song is iconic of the 80s era and it’s easy to see why – it was part of the birth of synthpop – some of the music we have today wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for 80s synthpop tracks like this!

Whatever you may have thought of Pete Burns and his band, it can’t be denied that this is an iconic song! What is your favourite Dead Or Alive song? Please let us know your #ThrowbackThursday song choice in a comment below or via our social media…remember to use the hashtag and our social media handle.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’¬†can be downloaded off¬†iTunes now –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/you-spin-me-round-like-a-record/id398185149?i=398185266