#Review: ONE OK ROCK – Eye Of The Storm 🌪

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ONE OK ROCK are a Japanese rock band who formed in Tokyo, in 2005. The band currently consists of Takahiro Moriuchi (vocals), Toru Yamashita (guitar), Ryota Kohama (bass), and Tomoya Kanki (drums). Since forming, the band have played many different styles of music, from alternative rock to emo and even post-hardcore to their most recent, pop rock style. In 2016, the band signed to Fueled By Ramen, releasing their eighth studio album, Ambitions, featuring collaborations with Avril Lavigne5 Seconds Of Summer and Alex Gaskarth (All Time Low). This year, (2019) sees the release of their ninth studio album (although only their third US release), Eye Of The Storm. Here’s what we have to say about it…

one ok rock - eye of the storm

From the very start of Eye Of The Storm, it’s clear that ONE OK ROCK have made a conscious departure from the previous, emo, alternative rock and post-hardcore incarnations, favouring a much more pop-led sound. That’s not a bad thing though, as this is a brilliantly-crafted pop powerhouse of a record, that is sure to further cement their position as one of big players in the pop rock genre (alongside label mates like Panic! At The Disco and Against The Current. In fact ‘Eye Of The Storm’ and ‘Worst In Me’ are almost an obvious transitioning from their old sound to their new, blending their alternative rock roots with their new, more synth-driven pop elements.

There’s a real passion and raw talent to singer Takahiro “Taka” Moriuchi‘s vocals throughout the record too, as he explores the full extent of his vocal range, pulling off some stunning falsetto notes, intertwined with soaring choruses and exquisitely long-held notes.

‘Stand Out Fit In’ is testament to this – it’s very much an anthem about embracing people’s differences, with the goosebump-inducing, falsetto lines, “They yell, they preach, I’ve heard it all before. Be this, be that, I’ve heard it before.” It’s definitely a track that’s going to capture the hearts of many!

It’s actually very hard to pin-point just a few favourite tracks but ‘Push Back’ is wonderful for its gang vocal harmonies, like a modern-day Queen track. The descending melody echoing throughout the song is truly captivating too. ‘Wasted Nights’ is all about making the most of your life and enjoying each other’s company and the line, “Let’s live like we’re immortal, Maybe just for tonight, We’ll think about tomorrow (yeah), When the sun comes up,” is poetic, conjuring up nostalgic imagery and the underlying gospel vocals are stunning. The video only makes the track even more epic too (see below)! Even ‘Change’ – there’s definitely something a little boyband about the song (like 5 Seconds Of Summer meets One Direction), with the synth-sounding guitar lines, but the melodies are passionate and the message is poignant, positive and uplifting, “Hey, You know it’s not too late for us to make a change, You gotta listen to your heart what does it say? No matter how much we might bend, we will not break.”

It’s great to see that after nine albums in thirteen years, a band can still find ways to push themselves to adapt and grow, and be completely unafraid to try new directions.

That’s not to say there aren’t other special moments throughout the album; ‘Head High’ is definitely a pop track and whilst there isn’t much depth behind the lyrics or songwriting on it, it’s certainly catchy! ‘Letting Go’ really stands out for being so unique to the rest of the record – a calm little, acoustic-led track that is so beautifully understated, dealing with getting over a relationship and coming to terms with it. ‘Unforgettable’ has some definite dance music vibes to it, with the intense drum beats and whistling in the chorus, but with guitars thrown in. It’s quite a unique blend of genres.

‘Giants’ leads from delicate verses into a big chorus and has a strong Take That vibe to it, whilst ‘In The Stars’ adds a little vocal diversity with Kiiara featuring on the track, accompanied by a military-style beat.

‘Grow Old Die Young’ is a perplexing track though; it has a strong melody in the chorus but certain elements of it are very mediocre – a synth sound which doesn’t really fit the song and then there’s the lyrics, “I want the cause of my death, to be amazing sex,” which is honestly pretty cringe!

The album actually draws to a powerful close with ‘The Last Time’, led by a really strong chorus melody, topped off with a raspy, scream-like vocal that just knocks the record out of the park, right at the last second.

Eye Of The Storm is an interesting release for the band, as it’s their most commercial-sounding release to date, meaning it’s very palatable, for a broad range of listeners and is certainly bound to pick up a lot of new fans along the way. However, it could be argued that elements of depth and sincerity about their songwriting have been somewhat lost, rendering some of the tracks a little forgettable.

The drastic change in sound is definitely going to be felt by fans of their previous release, Ambitions, as some of the more emotive lyricism and raw instrumentation, has been exchanged for top-rate production values but at its heart, it is clearly still a ONE OK ROCK album.

That said, it’s equally great to see that after nine albums in thirteen years, a band can still find ways to push themselves to adapt and grow, and be completely unafraid to try new directions, and for that, this album should be admired. It’s a great record, with some banging tunes on and I can’t wait to hear what the band do next!

Rating
4


‘Eye Of The Storm’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/eye-of-the-storm/1441817576


Eye Of The Storm on Spotify

Stand Out Fit In (Official Video)

Wasted Nights (Official Video)

Change (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s ninth studio album, Eye Of The Storm? 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 join the conversation via our social media.


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#Review: You Me At Six – VI


   

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You Me At Six are an English rock band from Surrey. Since forming in 2004, the band have enjoyed various successes with all of their albums (except their first) reaching the Top 5 of the UK Album Charts and their fourth album, Cavalier Youth, reached Number 1! Now, 2018 sees the band return with their aptly-named sixth studio album, VI. Here’s what we have to say about it…

You Me At Six - VI.jpg

One thing is for certain, this band are superb at adapting their sound and have continued to evolve throughout their already pretty lengthy career. Their previous album, Night People, received rather mixed reviews suggesting it was a rather disjointed effort – although credit to them for trying something new! However, this is all about to change with VI!

The album bursts into life with the very gritty and rather explosive ‘Fast Forward’, which sees Franceschi screaming, “Pour some gasoline on,” with his trademark gravelly voice. The track has highs and lows in all the right places – prominent, grungy synths make this a strong album opener…think U2 but heavier!

Next to follow is the hugely atmospheric, stadium-filler, ‘Straight To My Head’ with 80s-style synths, strong bass lines and an incredibly catchy, chant-able chorus – possibly the best track on the record.

There is a distinctly indie meets disco sound across the album too. Lead single ‘3AM’ epitomises the vibe of the record; like something by The KillersThe Maccabees or even Bastille maybe, with a running rhythm to the vocals, whilst ‘Back Again’ is possibly the most pop-like track on the album, seeing Franceschi using his falsetto – a great, feel-good track.

They’ve once again diversified their sound, kept it fresh and refused to stick to a sound that’s previously brought them success.

Possibly the weakest songs have to be ‘I O U’ – a bass-led affair that feels disjointed in places; it’s quite experimental, in that it changes pace and sound throughout. Also, ‘Predictable’ is quite similar to something by Arctic Monkeys; it’s a little droning and not particularly memorable. Whilst ‘Pray For Me’ is a wonderfully euphoric song but throughout feels like it’s going to a place that it never actually goes.

‘Danger’ instantly grabs your attention with a beat that starts almost identically to Toni Basil‘s ‘Mickey’, but quickly demonstrates it’s much more edgy than that. It’s an upbeat track with some incredible, diverse vocals – a really strong track!

Probably the most controversial song on the album, is closing track, ‘Losing You’ – it builds beautifully with some captivating vocal effects and all-consuming reverb on the synths and guitars. It is bound to be a real mixed-bag with the fans.

It has to be said that You Me At Six have done a superb job with this record – they’ve once again diversified their sound, kept it fresh and refused to stick to a sound that’s previously brought them success. They’re a band that press forward and continue to grow and VI clearly shows that the band have made an album they wanted to make – for that, they should be very proud.

Rating
3.5


‘VI’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/vi/1380831965


VI on Spotify

3AM (Official Video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrELmjpktYE


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this band’s…? 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: LAUREL – DOGVIOLET


   

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LAUREL (aka Laurel Arnell-Cullen) is a British indie musician originating from London. She has had a string of critically acclaimed songs since posting her first demo back in 2013 and gained a lot of bloggers’ and radio DJs’ attention for writing, recording and producing most of her early music in her bedroom studio. Since signing to Counter Records (a division of Ninja Tune Records) in August 2016, she has released an EP and headlined her own UK tour. Now, 2018 sees the singer and songwriter releasing her debut album, DOGVIOLET. Here are are thoughts on the record…

Laurel - Dogviolet.jpg

LAUREL is finally releasing her debut album, DOGVIOLET and it’s a real corker! From the moment it opens with the catchy ‘Life Worth Living’ which bursts into life with its heavy drums, we are taken on a personal journey through LAUREL‘s heart and mind.

Some of the other tracks that really stand out are: ‘All Star’ has a really unique guitar line to it and it’s about putting a partner on a pedestal; ‘Hold Tight’ which has some relaxing, summer-by-the-beach vibes about being close to someone; ‘Adored’ for its slightly more grungy sound; ‘Crave’ which builds to a rather haunting chorus and ‘Take It Back’ for its very different and incredibly catchy chorus that lies somewhere along the lines of HAIM and MUNA.

‘Empty Kisses’ is a beautifully melancholic track too about a relationship that’s essentially over and the passion’s gone.

There’s something beautiful about the occasional cracks in her voice – it’s stunningly imperfect.

Undoubtedly, comparisons could be made with the likes of Lana Del Rey or Florence Welch due to her ethereal vocals and melancholic tones but there’s something beautiful about the occasional cracks in her voice too – it’s stunningly imperfect.

The production is artistic and evokes imagery of an artistic independent film; it certainly serves as a soundtrack to this period in her life, with real, introspective lyricism and reflection that must have taken her to some deep, dark places in her memories. This is surely the start of a wonderful career ahead – with her intensely mesmerising vocals and remarkably honest and personal writing style that certainly stands her out from so many others right now. This year is certainly going to be a big one for LAUREL and I can’t wait to see where it takes her next.

Rating
4


‘Dogviolet’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/dogviolet/1373664343


Dogviolet on Spotify

Coming soon.

Same Mistakes (Official Video)

Life Worth Living (Official Audio)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of LAUREL’s debut album, DOGVIOLET? 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 chat to us about it via our social media.


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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: Panic! At The Disco – Pray For The Wicked 🙏


   

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Panic! At The Disco is an American band notable for its combination of alternative rock, synth-pop and emo lyrics, creating a very unique sound. After the huge success of the band’s debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, back in 2005, they have had a string of albums, continuously kept their sound fresh and built up a very loyal following. Now, in 2018, and with only Brendon Urie in the official line-up, the now-solo project is releasing a sixth studio album, Pray For The Wicked. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Panic At The Disco - Pray For The Wicked

Let’s just start by saying that this album couldn’t be further from their 2005 debut but somehow still manages to have a distinctive Panic! At The Disco sound… mostly due to Brendon‘s instantly recognisable vocals!

Throughout the band’s life, they have had many incarnations, from the cabaret-infused emo-pop of their debut, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out (2005), to their Beatles-inspired, Pretty. Odd (2008) and even their remarkably elaborate 2016 offering, Death Of A Bachelor. Well, Pray For The Wicked is no different…it’s another eccentric overhaul of the act and with that, brings a new and exciting sound.

It all opens with the show-stopper, ‘(Fuck A) Silver Lining’; an all-out, overly-extravagant anthem that oozes an air of success about the guy. The production is top-notch and unapologetic about its use of heavy drum fills and lavish symphony instrumentation. I particularly love the use of the one-off beep where a “fuck” should be – a great little production addition.

This is a theatrical record that doesn’t hold back in any way, shape or form!

As with any Panic! album, there is a great deal of sass behind the lyrics but this record also serves as an honest reflection on certain aspects of his life; his religious upbringing coupled with his rise to fame but rather than focusing on him living the high-life (as was the case on 2016’s Death Of A Bachelor), delves further into the journey to get there. This is a theatrical record that doesn’t hold back in any way, shape or form! It could easily be the soundtrack to a film like The Greatest Showman or feature on Broadway.

Some of key tracks to listen to on this record include, the quietly catchy, ‘Hey Look Ma, I Made It’; the pop-infused ‘High Hopes’ which you can’t help but sing at full pelt; the aptly-named ‘Dancing’s Not A Crime’ – which is a bloody good thing, as you’re unable to hear this without busting out some moves; and the beautifully heartfelt ‘Dying In LA’.

There is a real amalgamation of sounds on this album, from the superbly-integrated brass sections throughout (which add a certain class and almost seem to flaunt the budget that must have been spent making it), to the urban flourishes, such as gritty vinyl sounds, ballsy trap beats and even hip hop-tinted, high-pitched vocal samples. There’s no escaping the fact that Brendon sounds like he had a friggin’ great time making this record and at the same time, was not afraid to push some boundaries.

One thing’s for sure; fans of label-mates, Fall Out Boy‘s, newer sound, as well as die-hard Panic! fans, will undoubtedly love this record…but I have a feeling that with this new direction, he might well be picking up a whole new army of fans too! There are moments here and there that I could give or take, but on the whole, this is an outstanding, current and contemporary album that I would just LOVE to see performed live!

Rating


‘Pray For The Wicked’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/pray-for-the-wicked/1361152002


Pray For The Wicked on Spotify

Hey Look Ma, I Made It (Official Video)

Say Amen (Saturday Night) (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this band’s sixth album? Are you a fan? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or via our social media.


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#Review: Mayday Parade – Sunnyland ☀️


   

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Mayday Parade are a relatively unique blend of pop punk but with a more mature, almost alternative rock sound than some other bands in the genre. They have had five albums, prior to this, but Sunnyland not only marks their sixth album release, but it’s their first with new label, Rise Records. Here are our thoughts…

Mayday Parade - Sunnyland.jpg

The album is launched into full swing by opening track, ‘Never Sure’; a fast-paced pop punk summer anthem that is begging for festival-goers to be jumping around like maniacs. This has surely got to be their set opener for their tours this year?!

Then there’s the band’s recent single, ‘It’s Hard To Be Religious When Certain People Are Never Incinerated By Bolts Of Lightning’, an angry anthem about feeling screwed over by someone. There are some stunning, echoey vocals in the last minute of the track where singer, Derek Sanders‘ voice really shines.

The tempo drops for the album’s lead single, ‘Piece Of Your Heart’, which certainly wasn’t an obvious choice to launch the album, but nevertheless it is a dreamy and romantic ballad that features some stadium-filling instrumentation and stunning gang vocals.

In fact, a large portion of the album feels self-reflective and relatively mellow in comparison to some of their previous releases but perhaps this is a maturing of the band’s musical direction? It can at times, feel a little stop-start due to the number of mellower tracks, but it’s definitely got a late summer/early autumn feel to it. ‘Take My Breath Away’ (almost sounds like something byThe Barr Brothers) and ‘Where You Are’ see the full band sound swapped for a more unplugged feel.

The highs are powerful and stratospheric, whilst the lows are both beautiful, vulnerable and unapologetic.

However, tracks such as ‘Is Nowhere’ and ‘How Do You Like Me Now’ showcase a much heavier, maybe even angrier, side to the band.

Favourite tracks have to be: ‘How Do You Like Me Now’ for its no holds barred lyrics and progressively chaotic instrumentation; ‘If I Were You’ as it’s just a fun, classic pop punk mosh anthem about getting away from it all and ‘Satellite’ that is a truly remarkable song with harmonic guitars and euphoric vocals that excite and induce a rush of ecstasy from start to finish.

There is something very similar to the likes of You Me At Six (like on ‘It’s Hard To Be Religious…’ and ‘Is Nowhere’) and Funeral For A Friend about this record; the highs are powerful and stratospheric, whilst the lows are both beautiful, vulnerable and unapologetic.

This is very much an album that weaves its way through calm, reflective tracks and punchy pop punk thrash anthems to target a mixed audience – and it is packed full of emotions too. This is mainly one for the fans, but I’m sure will pick up a few new listeners along the way.

Rating
4


‘Sunnyland’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/sunnyland/1375751341


Sunnyland on Spotify

It’s Hard To Be Religious When Certain People Are Never Incinerate By Bolts Of Lightning (Official Music Video)

Piece Of Your Heart (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s sixth album? Are they headed in a direction you like? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or via our social media.


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#Review: State Champs – Living Proof 🐯


   

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State Champs are a pop punk powerhouse, who formed in Albany, New York, back in 2010. To date, the band have released two albums, which had great receptions, making them a staple name in the pop punk world. Now they are releasing their third full-length record, Living Proof, which is set to see the band soar to new heights!

State Champs - Living Proof.jpg

Kicked into top gear immediately, with opening track, ‘Criminal’, this epic, in-your-face thrash anthem is a high-octane way to open a record…and you’d expect nothing less from State Champs.

From there the album continues to build, from the drum-heavy and powerful ‘Frozen’ to second single, ‘Crystal Ball’, which has the perfect build-up from a calm, heartfelt introduction through to a passionate, powerful chorus. The vocals are particularly incredible on this track with a half-time section towards the end.

It’s impossible to listen to this record without craving to see them live.

Then there’s the sure-fire, off-beat crowd-pleaser and lead single, ‘Dead And Gone’, about a troubled relationship and ‘Our Time To Go’; an archetypal pop punk power ballad which tugs at the heart strings and encourages taking the positive with the negative.

Other notable tracks include, the passive aggressive, ‘Safe Haven’ which contains a brilliant musical breakdown after the chorus and a moment of solace in the middle 8 section; ‘Something About You’ is a fun, uplifting track with some superb vocal steps and is reminiscent of something by Marianas Trench whilst ‘Mine Is Gold’ has an All Time Low-vibe. It then all goes out with a bang in ‘Sidelines’; a beautifully chaotic track which breaks, in part, to a lighters-up moment of calm before descending into a final bout of pure carnage that brings the album to an epic finish.

The production on the album is top-notch too! Some stunning little effects and subtle fills make this a diverse and powerful listen!

It’s impossible to listen to this record without craving to see them live. You get every sense that a performance by this band will leave you sweaty and exhausted but greatly fulfilled. All credit to the guys for taking their time to release a new record; it’s an excellent album that will undoubtedly take pride of place in every pop punk fan’s music collection.

Rating
4-5


‘Living Proof’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/living-proof/1370452923


Living Proof on Spotify

Dead And Gone (Official Music Video)

Secrets (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this band’s Fiction Act EP? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or via our social media.


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