#Review: Normandie – Dark & Beautiful Secrets

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Dark & Beautiful Secrets is the third full-length release from Sweden’s very own Normandie. They claim this album is the true sound of the band with vocalist, Philip Strand (also a producer/writer for a number of pop artists & he even penned the Irish Eurovision entry for 2021), claiming that the album is much darker and delves more intimately into their personal lives than they have been before. Let’s see if it matches their ambitions…

Normandie - Dark & Beautiful Secrets

Overall the album is very pacy and it doesn’t let up often. Dynamically, it’s fairly steady in that it keeps up the initial pace of ‘Babylon’ and ‘Hostage’, which are very anthemic in their presence at the start of the album. Which is great. However, for an album claiming intimacy, it lacks interest in how it flows. It has more of a dance anthems playlist vibe than a gritty window into the soul. Having said that, there is some let up within the tracks themselves with stripped back choruses that then smash back into very catchy choruses. It’s the kind of thing we’ve seen from bands in a similar vein such as Don Broco and Thirty Seconds To Mars. Unlike those bands though, all the tracks feel pretty much the same, very driven and super catchy in the choruses, but that’s all.

Speaking of catchy choruses, ‘Jericho’ and ‘Holy Water’ are particular highlights on this record, but to be honest, any of the tracks would easily pass as a single release. Lyrically, the choruses are just straight to the point, trying to encompass the track as a whole with one or two lines. Again though, the album lacks imagination in its writing. The lyrics feel quite generic and although the use of some good concepts such as the idea of Holy Water drowning you (a reference to Strand turning his back on the church at the age of 14), it cannot shake some very over-used lines and clichés.

Dark & Beautiful Secrets is not a bad album, but it’s nothing that stands out from the crowd.

‘Atmosphere’ tries to break both of the issues above. It is a much slower track than the rest and is a nice relief from the driving beats and heavy melodies on the rest of the album. It really is a standout track which is unfortunately lost amongst everything else. It’s a track about losing yourself and true to its title, really has some atmosphere about it. Lyrically, it feels much stronger than the rest, less forced and the production really adds to the feeling of the track as a whole. There are some heavier elements to the album too which are ear-catching. Most notably, is the riff in ‘Mission Control’, which really throws me back to some old Muse tracks, that I haven’t visited in a while and ‘Renegade’ feels influenced by the newer Bring Me The Horizon tracks of recent times. I would say these are the only varying elements to this album but it still feels quite ‘samey’ as mentioned before.

Dark & Beautiful Secrets is not a bad album, but it’s nothing that stands out from the crowd. If you enjoy similar bands such as Don Broco, Bring Me The Horizon (later releases) and PVRIS then you will enjoy this, but I think you’ll forget about it a few weeks later. Add ‘Atmosphere’ to your favourite playlist and that will do you right.

Rating
3


‘Dark & Beautiful Secrets’ is out 19/02/21 on Easy Life Records and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/dark-beautiful-secrets/1539052326


Dark & Beautiful Secrets on Spotify

Coming Friday 19th February 2021.

Babylon (Official Music Video)

Holy Water (Official Music Video)


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


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#Review: The Young Hearts – The Modern State

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating
4


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

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


The Modern State on Spotify

London (Official Music Video)

Fool’s Gold (Official Music Video)


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


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Death Cab For Cutie – Thank You For Today ☁️


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Atlantic Records - SmallerDeath Cab For Cutie are an alternative, indie rock band hailing from Washington, USA, consisting for five members; Ben Gibbard (lead vocals, guitar & piano), Nick Harmer (bass guitar & backing vocals), Jason McGerr (drums), Dave Depper (guitar, keyboards & backing vocals) and Zac Rae (keyboards & guitar). Thank You For Today is the ninth studio album to be released by the band since they started, over 20 years ago, in 1997. Here is what we have to say about it…

Death Cab For Cutie - Thank You For Today.jpg

This is an album that sees the band further perfect their unique blend of forlorn airiness with breezy, somewhat understated pop hooks that have inspired so many other bands since; Vampire Weekend, Foster The People and Foals to name a few.

The record begins with the solemn ‘I Dreamt We Spoke Again’, a track laden with hauntingly beautiful, shaky and untuned keys (an effect also used on the piano of dark and contemplative closing track, ’60 & Punk’; taking a candid approach to mortality) that perfectly reflects the mood of being disturbed by an ex’s unwanted appearance in your dreams. A track that could easily fall between The Cure and Lana Del Rey.

There are certainly a couple of moments on this record that appear to be influenced by Pet Shop Boys too; ‘Summer Years’ and ‘When We Drive’ both have similar vocal styles and spacey instrumentation, to the iconic 80s duo. Easily a couple of the best tracks on the record!

All-in-all, this is a strong, reflective, honest and sentimental album that will not only have old fans immersed but is bound to pick up and grip new alternative and indie fans along the way.

Lead single, ‘Gold Rush’, is a wonderful country-inspired, modern-folk sounding take on the renovation of aspects of the world, whilst ‘Near/Far’ is a synth-driven, 80s-inspired, euphoric tune that is truly nostalgic and reflective.

There are also a few other tracks that embrace a similar feel to each other; ‘Your Hurricane’, ‘Autumn Love’ and ‘Northern Lights’ all have a very laidback vibe with moments of soaring melodies; I wouldn’t say they’re the most stand-out tracks on the album, but certainly captivating in their own ways.

All-in-all, this is a strong, reflective, honest and sentimental album that will not only have old fans immersed but is bound to pick up and grip new alternative and indie fans along the way. One thing’s for sure, this band are definitely a long-standing inspiration to many of their successors and still continue to push forward with their well-deserved and lengthy career.

Rating


‘Thank You For Today’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/thank-you-for-today/1396106377


Thank You For Today on Spotify

Gold Rush (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s ninth studio offering? Is it up there with some of their best work? Are you a long-time fan or only just discovering them? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or hit us up via our social media.


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#Review: The Wonder Years – Sister Cities


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerThe Wonder Years are an an American pop punk band from Pennsylvania, USA that formed in July 2005. Since their humble beginnings, the band have released five full-length albums, two EPs, and had several split releases with other bands. Now, 2018 sees their sixth album release and possibly their most unique record to date. Here are our thoughts on Sister Cities

One thing is for certain; with this album, the band have all but shed their iconic pop punk sound and become more of an alternative rock outfit. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it shows a certain maturity and evolution, but with that comes a much darker tone to their sound and far heavier themes to their songs. This is something fresh and rare for the genre.

The conception of this album stems from the band’s huge, 2 year tour in support of their 2015 release, No Closer To Heaven, which had frontman Dan Campbell (or “Soupy”, as he’s known to his close friends) reflecting about life on the road. It was whilst touring that he experienced heartbreak and took a somewhat emotional beating and this can be heard by the cracks and subtle imperfections in his vocals, showing a very real and very raw set of emotions.

From the thunderous and kinetic energy of opening track, ‘Raining In Kyoto’, we are taken on a journey from the bustling heights of Japan, through the catchy-as-hell choruses of title track ‘Sister Cities’ before ultimately ending on the thought-provoking, ‘The Ocean Grew Hands To Hold Me’.

The poetic lyricism and excellent musicianship make this an inspiring collection of eleven, achingly mesmerising tracks.

This is an album that is steeped with references of death and a genuine sense of nostalgia. Its realness is altogether dark; it’s both tense and intense. From the wonderful lyrics, “There’s a bird inside your rib cage,” on ‘Pyramids of Salt’, which starts as quite a twisted and emo ballad, before becoming a desperate plea for forgiveness, to the beautifully poetic language and crisp-sounding voice of the passionate ‘Flowers Where Your Face Should Be’, the band have captured their raw emotions with perfection.

The sounds on the record lie somewhere along the lines of Brand New but married up with a grittier sounding Panic! At The Disco vocal (as on ‘Raining In Kyoto’) and the melancholic intensity of Sonny Moore‘s days in From First To Last (like that of the rather heavy track, ‘The Ghosts Of Now’).

Kudos must go to The Wonder Years for taking a brave step away from a more mainstream sound and venturing into a more post-hardcore realm with certain emo qualities, to ultimately create a somewhat concept album; something that’s no mean feat to achieve. You won’t necessarily walk away from this album feeling as uplifted as you would after hearing bop-along, perfectly-(over)produced pop punk record, but the poetic lyricism and excellent musicianship make this an inspiring collection of eleven, achingly mesmerising tracks, documenting a 2-year insight into the band’s lives.

Rating


‘Sister Cities’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/sister-cities/1337276526


Sister Cities on Spotify

Sister Cities (Official Video)

Pyramids of Salt (Visual Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s latest album, Sister Cities? Are you a fan? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or talk to us about it via our socials.


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#NewMusicFriday: Something Leather – ‘Disappear On Me’

 


   

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Something Leather are a three-piece band, consisting of members Phillie (Vocals/Organ), Greg (Guitar) & Mike (Drums), hailing from our very own Brighton, UK.

In 2017, the band released their debut single, ‘Shotgun Persona’, which successfully launched them and opened up the doors to the alternative rock scene in Brighton. Now in 2018, they are releasing the follow-up to their debut, ‘Disappear On Me’, which is psychedelic and trippy, to say the least.

The trio are predominantly led by a 70’s electric organ and mystifying vocals, topped off by a grungy guitar and some intense drums.

I can only imagine the carnage these guys cause when playing live and am certain they will be making their mark on the local Brighton scene throughout 2018. Be sure to check them out soon.

What are your thoughts of this triad of alternative rockers? Got a #NewMusicFriday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or hit us up via our social media.

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‘Disappear On Me’ can be downloaded from iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/disappear-on-me/1350159838?i=1350159839


#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Everywhere


   

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Everywhere released their most recent single, ‘Moments’, back in 2017 and their fantastic EP, Fiction Act back in 2016, but have been busy doing a whole range of things, from writing to gigging and much more, since then. We were lucky enough to get some time to catch up with them and chat about a few things. Here’s what they had to say…


Hey, how’s it going?
Hey man! Awesome, how about you??

Very well thank you. Obviously you recently released your awesome new single, ‘Moments’, and the reception seems to have been great. Is this a sign of a new EP or album in the pipeline?
Thank you so much! Yes, ‘Moments’ was a sort of in the middle kind of track to keep the juice flowing. We’re currently penning another bunch of tunes that should end up on another EP, hopefully around this fall!

What other future plans have you guys got?
We’re looking at getting out on another tour to promote some new music, also doing loads of writing for film and TV in Hollywood. We’ve become kind of a factory 🙂

That sounds incredible! Where do you take inspirations from when writing your music?
We recently discovered a pretty neat trick, think it was Taylor Swift who said it. Basically, we write down fun and cool titles as they come to mind and during our daily writing sessions, we work these titles around tracks that we make. It’s an easy was to stay creative and never let the process stall.

What’s your usual process for writing/recording?
Our frontman Max has his daily sessions, when he sits down and builds tracks in Logic, he then takes those tracks into writing sessions with London writers and producers and builds demos. He then takes those demos to the rest of the band who expands on those arrangements. When we have a good amount of songs, or sketches we then head into a bigger studio such as Abbey Road, or if we happen to be over in LA we go to East West where we create the final master.

Wow! Abbey Road…pretty cool. So, if you could do a collaboration with anyone, who would it be and why?
It would be a pure pleasure to work with Max Martin. Just for the pure fact that he’s had so many Billboard hits and is a fellow Swede.

What music have you been listening to most recently?
Mostly our own, as we’re currently doing loads of writing. Other than that it’s the usual suspects, a good mix of classic rock and top 40 hits. Recently rediscovered Echo & the Bunnymen, The Cure and loads of other nice little nuggets from the past.

If you had to cover a recent chart song, which song would it be and why?
It would probably be ‘Rockstar’ by Post Malone, such a masterpiece.

What makes a great show for you?
One where people turn up and go nuts. A sold-out show is always a great one.

Do you have any pre-show or post-show rituals?
The singer, Max, always stays sober but drinks a Red Bull while the rest of the band get hammered.

Haha! Has anything scary ever happened to you on tour?
This would be a perfect place to deliver a well crafted lie, but unfortunately, besides a few heavily overweight old women going for a good grab from behind, that large disaster is yet to arrive *knock on wood*

Do you have any other passions outside of music?
Politics, painting and reading.

What really grinds your gears?
Death Metal, not the greatest thing since bread. Wouldn’t categorically call it bad but generally it’s not up our street.

What’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
I must say The Disaster Artist was amazing, just had me nailed from beginning to end and would warmly recommend it to anyone.

If, in say 20 years time, a film was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Edward Norton and Mark Wallberg, directed by Michael Bay.

Haha! That’d be one EPIC movie! If you could be any chocolate bar, which one would you be?
Snickers.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Focus on your craft and the rest will follow. People tend to overestimate their skills and always wonder why the success never happens.


Everywhere‘s releases are all available:


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