#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…

Neck Deep - All Distortions Are Intentional.jpg

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.


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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.


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#Review: The Chicks – Gaslighter

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Dixie Chicks are a well known country pop band comprised of singer Natalie Maines and multi-instrumentalist sisters Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Strayer. The group initially formed in 1989 , in Dallas, Texas and have, to date, released 7 studio albums. Now, 2020 sees the band release their eighth record and their first album in 14 years, Gaslighter. It is also the first record to be released under the new name, The Chicks, following the George Floyd protests. Here’s what we have to say about it…

The Chicks - Gaslighter.jpg

The album launches with title track, ‘Gaslighter’, a no holds barred anthem about the breakdown of Maines’ relationship and ultimate divorce. In fact, this particular topic provides a lot of material for the album – it was originally slated to be a simple record of covers in order to fulfill their contract with Sony, but following her divorce, she was inspired to start songwriting again.

‘Tights On My Boat’ is another one of those tell-all tracks detailing an affair her ex-husband had, with a lover, on the couple’s boat, on which she discovered a tell-tale pair of tights. The track (along with a couple of others) is written with pop songwriter and artist, Julia Michaels. Additionally, the trio collaborated heavily with Taylor Swift‘s 1989 producer, Jack Antonoff, seeing him take production credits for the record and some songwriting credits too.

This album certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to personal or political songwriting. ‘March March’ takes a look at issues of gun control, climate change and underfunded education and puts them through a contemporary bluegrass lens. Whilst ‘Set Me Free’ is all about Maines looking to be released from her marriage.

It’s an exciting pop take on a country record that is likely to reignite fans’ passions for the band and pick up a whole host of new ones along the way too.

Possibly some of the best tracks on the album come in the form of ‘Sleep At Night’, a banjo-led candid look at her ex-husband’s affair; ‘Texas Man’ with its upbeat rhythm combined with rousing lyrics and the captivating vocal riffs of ‘Young Man’.

Possibly my favourite track on the record has to be ‘Julianna Calm Down’ – it builds beautifully throughout with a really catchy, contemporary pop edge to it. Whilst ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ has some wonderful vocal harmonies and a sense of honesty about reflecting on how Maines met her ex-husband.

The Chicks may have changed their name and their new music may well have a certain degree of poppiness that die-hard country fans could cringe at, but this is exactly the evolution you would expect from the band’s last album back in 2006, to where they are today. It’s an exciting pop take on a country record that is likely to reignite fans’ passions for the band and pick up a whole host of new ones along the way too.

Rating
4


‘Gaslighter’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/gaslighter/1499733036


Gaslighter on Spotify

Gaslighter (Official Video)

Sleep At Night (Official Video)

March March (Official Lyric Video)

Julianna Calm Down (Official Lyric Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s eighth studio album? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: Paul Weller – On Sunset 🌅

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Paul Weller is an English singer-songwriter and musician, who first achieved fame as part of the band, The Jam between 1972 and 1982. It was then until 1989 that he was part of the blue-eyed soul group,  The Style Council, before establishing himself as a solo artist in 1991. Since 1992, the artist has released a whole string of albums, with 2020’s latest record, On Sunset, being his fifteenth studio album. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Paul Weller - On Sunset.jpg

Paul Weller has a career spanning more than four-and-a-half decades and it can only be admired just how active and contemporary he still remains at 62 years old.

Right from the opening moments of ‘Mirror Ball’; a seven-and-a-half minute epic that starts out with ethereal synths before breaking into a vast soundscape of overdriven guitars and juddering synths married with melodic pop elements, some distorted vocals and even some crowd applause thrown in; it’s clear that this is going to be an exciting record.

This rather avante-garde opener is quickly followed by ‘Baptiste’ – a rather safe, summery, soulful number that has become a familiar sound for the songwriter.

However the experimentalism of this record is once again demonstrated on tracks like ‘More’ – an extended, progressive soulful track that features female French vocals; the almost psychedelic title track, ‘On Sunset’; or on the very synth-driven and rather trippy ‘Earth Beat’, that seems to ever build, beautifully.

This is something of a captivating collection of contemporary songs.

It’s clear that there is a whole load of inspiration on this record – from rock to soul and folk to funk – this is something of a captivating collection of contemporary songs. Weller‘s vocals are sublime too – he has both smoothness and raspiness in all the right places.

There’s definitely a sense of reflection and revisiting sounds too – ‘Village’ is a beautiful number that soars and leaves a sense of nostalgia on the listener, whilst tracks like ‘Rockets’ and ‘Equanimity’ have a strong sense of early David Bowie and The Kinks (respectively), emanating a certain relaxed, contemporary appeal too.

‘Old Father Tyme’ can’t go unmentioned either – its fading in and out of a drum machine with funky guitars, brass notes and echoing vocals make it one of the focal points of the album.

The songs are so well-written and focus on central themes of contentment and growing into oneself. You would have a hard time debating that this album doesn’t work as collective body, despite all the fluctuating influences and whilst it feels like there could be more experimental sounds to come from him, Paul Weller should be proud of his fifteenth release.

Rating
4


‘On Sunset’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/on-sunset-deluxe/1503362089


On Sunset on Spotify

Earth Beat (Lyric Video)

Village (Lyric Video)

More (Lyric Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this singer-songwriter’s fifteenth studio album? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: Klingande – The Album

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Klingande started out as a production duo back in 2012, releasing a couple of notable tracks. However, following the departure of one half of the pair in 2014, Cédric Steinmyller chose to continue using the moniker, as a solo venture. Since then and with a string of singles and remixes under his belt, the French DJ and tropical house producer, is now releasing his debut album, The Album. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Klingande - The Album

Klingande‘s aptly-titled debut album, The Album, sees the producer putting out a double-disc record. The first of which is a body of work that sounds sonically polished and wonderfully well collected together, whilst the second disc is more a collection of the producer’s previous hits and well-known tracks.

The first disc is definitely an album that has been inspired by the likes of the late Avicii, blending real instruments with electronic elements. It would appear that there are other influences being played with too, with a real sense of the Deep South of America interwoven throughout – such as ‘Sinner’ (featuring Stevie Appleton) with country-style acoustic guitars in the verses and bluesy guitar riffs in the chorus. Or By The River’ that has slick guitars and features the raspy yet soulful vocals from Jamie N Commons. Even a harmonica finds its way onto the album (courtesy of French harmonica player, Greg Zlap) on the refreshing and rather frantic, surefire fan-favourite, ‘Ready For Love’ (also featuring vocals from UK singer-songwriter, Joe Killington).

The album opens with his latest single, ‘Amsterdam’ (the first of two collaborations with pop duo BRIGHT SPARKS) an acoustic-led, mellow dance track with a heavy underlying bass which sounds almost separate to the rest of the track, in a really interesting way. The second collaboration with BRIGHT SPARKS is previous single, ‘Messiah’ a subtle yet very catchy track, with some interesting fills, like a great dubstep-style wob-wob, leading into the final chorus.

‘Simple Man’ has some beautiful, distant gospel backing vocals, topped off with a deep lead vocal. This track is definitely a nod to his older sound, as it’s very saxophone led. Meanwhile, ‘Famous’ is quite different in tone to the rest of the album, particularly as it’s the first track on The Album to feature a female vocal.

The Album is a wonderful collection of songs that bring about an interesting new depth to dance music, making it stand out from a lot of other EDM.

Besides ‘Ready For Love’ (a personal favourite!), the final two tracks are possibly the best ones on the record. ‘Alive’ is a very positive track about things you won’t allow to get to you or defeat you and whilst the lyrics are not necessarily the deepest or most well-written, it’s catchy as hell and the message is great! Equally, closing track, ‘Only Breath’ (and the second to feature an unknown female vocal) is an airy and atmospheric song, with a synth rhythm that is pure euphoria – a wonderful track in spite of the inevitable dance drop.

The second half of The Album serves as more of a greatest hits, collating a bunch of Klingande‘s previous releases from the past few years – a time when he was more recognised for his prominent piano and saxophone use.

Whilst reviewing The Album, I chose to focus my attention mainly on the first half of the record, due to it being a more comprehensive collection of songs, however what the second half does do, is bring most of his previous releases together in one place and showcase just what growth this artist has been through, whilst the first half marks a new chapter in his career.

The Album is a wonderful collection of songs that bring about an interesting new depth to dance music, making it stand out from a lot of other EDM, but at its core, still uses tried, tested and much-loved dance sensibilities. This is a record that will be enjoyed by people of all ages and could quite easily be the perfect party companion. Given the growth demonstrated on this record, it’ll be interesting to see what direction Klingande goes in next!

Rating
4


‘The Album’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/the-album/1484567866


The Album on Spotify

Amsterdam featuring Bright Sparks (Official Lyric Video)

Messiah featuring Bright Sparks (Official Video)

By The River featuring Jamie N Commons (Official Video)

Jubel (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the producer’s debut album? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media and feel free to share our review.


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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.


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#ThrowbackThursday: blink-182 – ‘What’s My Age Again?’

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I can’t believe it’s been 20 years already, since blink-182 first released their massive hit single, ‘What’s My Age Again?’ from their hugely successful album, Enema of the State.

Without a doubt, the trio have firmly embedded this as a punk rock classic that is sure to stay a firm fan favourite for years to come.

2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the single and album and although Tom DeLonge is currently not a member of the band, the members still publicly show support for each other’s projects and are celebrating the release with a tour and the addition of singer, Matt Skiba.

Not only are the lyrics witty but the music video is possibly one of the most hilarious and iconic ones of its time. I don’t think many people can have missed this…mainly due to the band’s hilarious nakedness running down the street, but in case you have somehow managed not to see it, check it out below!

What are your thoughts of this blink-182 track, 20 years after its release? Do you have 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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‘What’s My Age Again’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/whats-my-age-again/1440839912?i=1440840493


#Review: Siamese – Super Human 🦸‍♂️

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Siamese are a 4-piece metal-pop band from Denmark (read our interview with Mirza here) who made serious waves on the scene with their 2018 album, Shameless. Since touring with that album, the band have once again, been busy in the studio and now return with their latest record, Super Human, alongside a mini UK tour too. Here are our thoughts on the album.

Siamese - Super Human

At times, Siamese have found it difficult to be taken seriously within the genre and it’s easy enough to see why – they are not just a straightforward metal band, and Super Human is no exception. They merge Metal with genres like Pop, R&B and Dance and for die-hard fans of metal, this just doesn’t cut it. However, the band have stuck to their guns with their unique take on the genre and that shows conviction for what they believe in…and it’s a good thing!

From the opening track and lead single, ‘B.A.N.A.N.A.S’, with its reference to Gwen Stefani‘s, ‘Hollaback Girl’, on top of an intense metal instrumental – the pace for the record is set.

Other tracks that really stand out, include ‘Ocean Bed’ – an intensely emotive song with a grungy, heavy metal breakdown; the incredibly unique ‘Super Human’ – an urban-tinted affair with powerful lyrics about inner strength and guest vocals from Olivio Antonio and ‘Unified’ – a very personal track on which Mirza opens up about his background as a refugee.

Super Human is a good album and certainly isn’t lacking in musical diversity throughout. Siamese have managed to successfully amalgamate different genres to create a really cohesive body of work.

There are other moments to enjoy throughout the album though; ‘Animals’ begins with a church-like organ and builds like a Dance track would before launching into chugging metal; ‘You’re Not Alone’ is an uplifting song not only lyrically but reflected in the instrumental too, plus there are great vocal harmonies at the end (even if they are heavily autotuned) and ‘Give Me Up’ has Asian-tinted drums to open and a monasterial gang-vocal breakdown at the end – it’s very confessional in tone.

The only track which feels slightly out of place is ‘Party Monster’. It makes almost tongue-in-cheek jibes at vacuous pop songs however it feels like it might be trying to be serious too – it just doesn’t quite land.

The album is brought to a close by ‘Not Coming Home’ – 90s/00s-style Prodigy-esque Dance opening and drum beat that ends in chaos, leaving the listener wanting more.

Super Human is a good album and certainly isn’t lacking in musical diversity throughout. Siamese have managed to successfully amalgamate different genres to create a really cohesive body of work, mostly self-produced, allowing them freedom to create what they want. However, there are moments when the integrity behind the lyrics is not always sincerely delivered, focusing more on the style than the substance. Plus, one or two of the songs sound fairly similar – overall though, it’s a pretty solid record. The artwork is unusually well-matched to the album too, with several of the songs having an underlying religious or spiritual undertone to them, even if, in parts, it’s just in the musical composition rather than the lyrical content.

This album is surely going to further cement the band’s place within the genre though and demonstrates that they are seriously players on the scene. Personally, the genre-bending brings something interesting to the table, meaning they stand out from the rest, and it’s intriguing to see where they take their style next!

Rating


‘Super Human’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/super-human/1455133470


Super Human on Spotify

B.A.N.A.N.A.S (Official Video)

Super Human featuring Olivio (Official Video)

Animals (Official Video)

Ocean Bed (Official Lyric Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this band’s latest album? Is Super Human going to be your soundtrack to 2019? 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: Avril Lavigne – Head Above Water 🌊

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It’s hard to believe that Avril Lavigne dropped her first single, ‘Complicated’, back in 2002 but since then, the songstress has had 5 studio albums, 23 singles, 27 music videos (including ‘Girlfriend’, which became the “first music video to reach 100 million views on YouTube”) and has even appeared on several television shows and films. Now, six years since her last, self-titled album, 2019 sees the singer-songwriter putting out her sixth studio album, Head Above Water; a personal account of the trials and tribulations she been through over the past few years. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Avril Lavigne - Head Above Water.jpg

Head Above Water is probably Avril Lavigne‘s most mature album to date, seeing a real evolution in her songwriting. Throughout the record, she paints a candid, honest and deeply introspective portrait of a truly tumultuous period in her life.

It all begins with the album’s title track, ‘Head Above Water’, which is in fact the song that kick-started the writing of the whole album. She stated, “One night, I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die. My mom laid with me in bed and held me. I felt like I was drowning. Under my breath, I prayed, ‘God, please help to keep my head above the water.’ In that moment, the song writing of this album began. It was like I tapped into something. It was a very spiritual experience. Lyrics flooded through me from that point on.” In this truly stunning track alone, Avril Lavigne documents her fight with Lyme Disease (as a result of which, she set up The Avril Lavigne Foundation, to raise awareness of the condition – visit http://www.TheAvrilLavigneFoundation.org for more information), showing her strength of character to fight and overcome it.

As if that song wasn’t different enough, ‘Birdie’ demonstrates a diverse instrumental with intricate production where stripped-back moments show off her voice beautifully and a distorted vocal break adds another dimension to the track in which compares herself to a caged bird.

Equally, ‘I Fell In Love With The Devil’ and ‘Tell Me It’s Over’ are both tinted with Lana Del Rey-esque vibes. The first blends both high and low-pitched vocal harmonies to create an ominous tone to the track, perfectly mirroring the theme of a toxic relationship, whilst the latter’s sultry vocals and brass elements in the verses lead into a massive, soulful chorus, making it possibly the most unique song Avril has ever released.

There is a bit of a lull in the uptempo vibes towards the middle-end of the record (but still great tracks!) ‘Souvenir’ is a cute little love song that although a touch juvenile, is actually very endearing, whilst ‘Crush’ is a sparkly-sounding, soulful number.

It might not be her most obviously banging release, but it certainly packs a punch on the emotive side, with such wonderfully poetic lyricism.

‘Bigger Wow’ isn’t the most memorable song though it’s incredibly catchy and unequivocally pop, however I can’t help but feel it’s virtually a carbon copy of Hailee Steinfeld‘s single, ‘Starving’ with Zedd.

That said, although on the whole Head Above Water is quite the far cry from any of her previous releases, there are definite nods to her former sounds. ‘Dumb Blonde’ (featuring none other than Nicki Minaj – which was clearly a last-minute addition to the track, as the review version of the album did not feature her at all) takes a massive leaf out of her 2007 smash hit, ‘Girlfriend’. Additionally, ‘It Was In Me’ has a massive throwback vibes to her 2002 hit, ‘I’m With You’, but nevertheless, it’s amazing and the build up at the end is truly goosebump-inducing!

The album draws to a close with ‘Warrior’, thematically bringing us back full circle to where we began. The lyrics possibly aren’t the most imaginative on the record but they certainly show the strength she has found within herself, to get through some of the toughest years of her life and with that comes an audible gratitude and renewed lease of life.

Whatever you think of Avril Lavigne‘s previous incarnations, you can’t hear this album and deny that it’s a passionate and very personal offering from the star and although there isn’t a completely cohesive style throughout, it’s refreshing to hear her trying something new. The break has done her voice good too – there’s a renewed power and technique behind it and she’s using it in ways she hasn’t much before.

Of course, there are bound to be people that will slate her for moving away from her old sound and those who will criticise her for trying something new, but personally I love and commend this record for being evolutionary and so clearly therapeutic. It might not be her most obviously banging release, but it certainly packs a punch on the emotive side, with such wonderfully poetic lyricism. Now it’s time to return to the top Avril Lavigne – welcome back!

Rating
4-5


‘Head Above Water’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/head-above-water/1442724476


Head Above Water on Spotify

Head Above Water (Official Video)

Tell Me It’s Over (Official Video)

Dumb Blonde featuring Nicki Minaj (Lyric Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Avril’s sixth studio album, Head Above Water? 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: Hold Close – Time 🕐

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerHold Close are a Pop Punk band hailing from Springfield, Missouri in the USA. To date, they have had a couple of EP releases through Hopeless Records, across 2016 and 2017 but now, 2019 sees the release of their debut album, Time. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Hold Close - Time

We’re eased into the album with title track, ‘Time’ – an intro-style song, which starts off calm and rather understated, with a nice little gang vocal, riding on top of the acoustic guitar. It has quite a wholesome sound to the opening, with the lyrics, “You know time will always heal,” but by half way, bursts into a chaotic moment and a slightly heavier tone, giving us a sense of what’s to come…before calming back to the way it begins. It doesn’t last long before swiftly leading into ‘Hang Tight’, dramatically picking up the pace.

‘Hang Tight’ has an intense beat, you can’t help but get swept up in, especially as there’s a huge sense of ecstasy in the calmer moments. Near the end of the track, there’s a note that’s almost screamed before a moment of calm that comes back round as if the track is starting again – it’s marvellous.

The best tracks on the record have to be: ‘Breath’ – a beautiful track about losing someone. It’s so stunningly passionate and heartfelt that you hang on every word. The line, “Sometimes I pretend like you’re still here,” really gets me; ‘Tropical Depression’ is deeply engrossing track due to the vocal effects and the metaphor of a relationship being a-likened to a tropical depression is wonderfully poetic; ‘Here Again’ depicts a longing for someone you miss. Subtle synths swirl around powerful vocals in the chorus, which makes for a touching outpouring of emotion; lastly, ‘Separation’ makes for an epic close to the album – hauntingly beautiful guitar melodies in the chorus are met with great instrument pushes and gang vocals to really hit it home, dropping into a long, synth outro and subtle vocals.

Other tracks include: ‘Cast Me Away’ which makes for a slightly more traditional pop punk track, ‘Absent To Reality’ has a much darker tone than most on the record whilst ‘Cloud9’ has something similar about the synth sound and melody to Keane’s ‘She Has No Time’ – it’s the lyrics that mostly resonate with me; “Will I ever learn to dream again, Escape from all the things I fear and then, Find my path to seeing clear again, Make my way through what’s to come from this.”

The only real drawback about Time is that 3 of the 11 tracks are pretty short, acting as intros/interludes – sure they are haunting and give the listener a few seconds to pause, but it would have just been amazing if there were more tracks.

There’s a real maturity to this record that a lot of bands can only dream of – it’s not quite pop punk, it’s not quite alternative rock – it’s just damn good!

The occasional echo effects on the vocals, interspersed throughout the album, alongside the diverse song-writing and instrumentation, induce real moments and feelings of euphoria – it’s the kind of album you can just turn up loud and get completely lost in – engulfed by the melodies and production.

There’s a real maturity to this record that a lot of bands can only dream of – it’s not quite pop punk, it’s not quite alternative rock – it’s just damn good! The instrumentation is intricate and well-crafted, with deeply considered, honest and relatable lyrics that must have taken a lot of self-reflection.

There is a lot of emphasis placed on memories of love and people lost, right across the album and a very clear theme of time passing, reminiscing and some degree of healing coming from that. “Time will always heal” is very much a repeated phrase. A mantra.

Time is very much like the record of a pop punk band who have already had a lengthy career and matured, going on to create an album of well-considered, thought-provoking and sonically captivating music to push the boundaries of the genre…it’s just that Hold Close have achieved it early on in their career than others. The band have produced something wonderful with this album and I truly can’t wait to hear what they create next.

Rating

4-5


‘Time’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/time/1437338395


Time on Spotify

Tropical Depression (Official Music Video)

Breath (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Hold Close’s album, Time? 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