#MellowMonday: KAWALA – ‘Heavy In The Morning’

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Check out our interview with Dan and Jim from KAWALA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


#Review: Sum 41 – Order In Decline 💀

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerSum 41 are a Canadian rock band who first formed back in 1996. The band currently consist of members Deryck Whibley (lead vocals, guitar and keyboard), Dave Baksh (guitar and backing vocals), Tom Thacker (guitar, keyboard and backing vocals), Jason “Cone” McCaslin (bass and backing vocals) and Frank Zummo (drums). The band first enjoyed mainstream success with their 2001 debut album, All Killer No Filler, and from there have gone on to have a rather illustrious career and a few line-up changes. 2019 now sees the band releasing their seventh studio album, Order In Decline, through Hopeless Records. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Sum 41 - Order In Decline.jpg

One thing’s for sure, Sum 41 are a very different band now, to the band they started out as and have sonically changed a lot over the years. From a skate-rock band to being contenders for the pop-punk throne, the band have now transformed into a much darker, grittier and overtly heavier incarnation of themselves that is a far cry from their “Fat Lip” and “In Too Deep” days.

That said, there’s still something distinctly Sum 41 about Order In Decline, though that mostly lies with Deryck Whibley‘s instantly recognisable vocals. It was following a few line-up changes and a spell in hospital to recover from alcohol-induced illness, that the band rose from the ashes with 2016’s comeback album, 13 Voices – an album that further demonstrated their ability to create music that was edgy and more alternative (with the odd ballad thrown in). And now, Order In Decline yet further cements this evolution in the band’s sound.

From the sombre, opening piano notes of ‘Turning Away’, the album quickly kicks into high gear with an exciting and powerful, stammering riff, that by the end of the track, descends into audible chaos with an insanely intense guitar solo. The heavy energy is kept up with ‘Out For Blood’ – a track with elements from their skate-punk days and definite qualities of a Zebrahead song (with the distorted, scream-like backing vocals) plus another epic guitar solo.

As the record continues, ‘The New Sensation‘ takes us in a very different direction with a cleaner, synth-heavy and stadium-filling feel to it – like something you’d expect from the likes of Muse, especially with some of the melodies. ‘A Death In The Family’ is much more of a family sound; whilst it’s definitely heavier than they once were, there are definitely moments that nod to their origins.

Order In Decline is eclectic, exciting, intense and just friggin’ awesome!

‘Heads Will Roll’ is another interesting turn in the album, with a Subways, IDLES and Royal Blood-like vibe to it. ‘Eat You Alive’ is probably the most heavy metal track on the record whilst ‘The People Vs…’ is a much more typical punk rock track with rapidly chugging riffs and intense drums, sure to see the circle pits swirling at live shows.

Whilst the band don’t want to be politically-driven as such, it’s clear that Whibley has allowed his lyrics to be determined by the state of the world he sees around him right now – a world in which he sees division, racism and hate being accepted still. This is certainly evident in ’45 (A Matter Of Time)’, a track that by no coincidence, references the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, that he so marvellously calls out on a few things.

For all it’s intensity, Order In Decline sees a couple of moments when the pace changes and more personal lyrics come into play. ‘Never There’ addresses Whibley‘s absent father, growing up (and sounds like someone such as William Ryan Key had a hand in writing it), whilst ‘Catching Fire’ faces familiar themes of love and loss with wonderfully intricate layering, like something by The Dangerous Summer.

Order In Decline is eclectic, exciting, intense and just friggin’ awesome! And whilst Sum 41 are certainly not the same band they once were, there are undoubtedly qualities that still remain in their core, making them easily recognisable. However the continual evolution in their sound is exciting and impressive to watch and certainly adds to the longevity of their career. I’m already looking forward to hearing the next record!

Rating
4


‘Order In Decline’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/order-in-decline/1458053301


Order In Decline on Spotify

Out For Blood (Official Music Video)

45 (A Matter Of Time) [Official Music Video]

Never There (Official Music Video)

A Death In The Family (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Sum 41’s seventh studio album, Order In Decline? 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: Doll Skin – Love Is Dead And We Killed Her

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerDoll Skin are an all-female rock band from Phoenix, Arizona, consisting of Meghan Herring (drums/co-lead vocals), Sydney Dolezal (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Nicole Rich (bass/backing vocals) and Alex Snowden (lead guitar/backing vocals). The band’s sound is a blend of punk, metal, alternative rock & pop. In April 2019, Doll Skin announced that they had signed to Hopeless Records, to release their third album, Love Is Dead And We Killed Her. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Doll Skin - Love Is Dead And We Killed Her.jpg

There will undoubtedly be people who will compare Doll Skin to the likes of The Donnas or other all-female punk bands but Love Is Dead And We Killed Her is possibly one of the most exciting rock records I’ve heard this year. It’s fresh, enthralling and unique.

From the anger-fuelled, scream anthem that is the opening track, ‘Don’t Cross My Path’ which sees the chanting of “This is a song for everyone I hate,” and “Throw your tantrum, meet my rage,” to the final notes of ‘Homesick’ – a track about returning home, to the people you have missed – this is a cyclical album with strong themes of karma, facing internal demons and broken relationships throughout.

There is plenty of metaphorical imagery intertwined too, such as the closing track casting thought-provoking scenes about finding peace, or single, ‘Mark My Words’, casting scenes about tattooing Sydney‘s words onto someone to tell of the hell she’s been through because of them.

It’s really hard not to write about every track for different reasons; from ‘No Fear’ with it’s captivating vocal melody and impeccably strong delivery or title track, ‘Love Is Dead And We Killed Her’, a payback track about karma catching up with their ex lover, through to ‘When They Show Their Teeth’ and its frantic drum intro with good old punk rock ‘na, na, nas’ (very much the kind of track you’d hear playing over the footage of a car chase scene with shaky camera shots, high-octane, skilled manoeuvres and even a crowd-pleasing, clap-along breakdown at the end too; there’s really a bit of something for every punk or rock music lover here.

There’s something exciting about the delivery throughout the record and a real sense of diversity in the production and tone of each track.

For me though, it’s the middle tracks of the record that really grabbed my attention. ‘Outta My Mind’ is possibly the strongest track on the record, instantly giving me goosebumps. It’s the kind of career-defining song that people come back to as a fan favourite with incredible gang vocals and and angsty but upbeat tone that is somehow also heavy at the same time.

‘Ink Stains’ has some lovely the half-time moments, a high-pitched, powerful vocal, with the cutting line, “You won’t be hearing from me any more,” and even a chaotic, half-spoken, half-sung breakdown, a bit like the one in Good Charlotte’s ‘Predictable’.

‘Nasty Man’ is a deep track, seemingly about a predatory man – someone promising a young girl what she wants and taking advantage of it, whilst ‘Your Idols Are Dying’ is an angst-ridden anthem about internal struggles, drugs and finding out that the people you admire and look up to most are not all they’re made up to be. There’s a perfect scream breakdown that goes right to the end of the track too!

‘Empty House’ is another example of a metaphorical track too, initially addressing being alone and screaming out for help, but it’s a progressive story that builds to a more positive ending, about learning to love yourself – it’s quite beautiful!

It’s actually funny how an album cover can mislead you – I wasn’t expecting to like this record quite as much as I did, based on the cover alone, but ended up thoroughly loving it. It’s a real testament to show that you shouldn’t judge an album by its cover.

Love Is Dead And We Killed Her is a truly exciting album that although wouldn’t always be my normal cup of tea, truly captivated me. There’s something exciting about the delivery throughout the record and a real sense of diversity in the production and tone of each track. Sure, there are certain elements that fall within the same vein as Paramore but they are also, so much more – it’s like they learnt to scream and got a whole bit heavier in tone.

I’m super excited to see what Doll Skin put out next, as this album is a banger, and you can bet these tracks will be incredible live!

Rating
4-5


‘Love Is Dead And We Killed Her’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/love-is-dead-and-we-killed-her/1459583026


Love Is Dead And We Killed Her on Spotify

Mark My Words (Official Music Video)

Outta My Mind (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this band’s third release? 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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#Review: ONE OK ROCK @ Roundhouse, London – 10/05/19

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On Friday 10th May 2019, the massive Japanese band – ONE OK ROCK – arrived in London. It was only the second date on their EU leg, of the Eye Of The Storm World Tour and they performed at none other than London’s renowned Roundhouse. The band put on a night to remember, supported by British pop outfit, Anteros.


Anteros

The band took to the stage with their vibrant personas and glitzy 80s synths, further reinforced by lead singer, Laura Hayden’s sparkly red dress. This band are a wonderful blend of indie, pop and new wave – think Blondie meets modern-day contemporary pop; along a similar vein to Fickle Friends. There are certain punk-like trends to Hayden’s stage presence, with her almost “don’t-give-a-damn” flounces around the stage, equally met with gusto – it’s quite mesmerising. The music is good and their energy was captivating to watch.

Highlight: The high-energy end to the band’s set made for a chaotic last impression, certain to leave people wanting more.


ONE OK ROCK

The band have only played in the UK a couple of handfuls of times but it was clear from their loyal fan base, just how much their performances are looked forward too, with a queue that lined up all round the streets, prior to the show.

As ONE OK ROCK took to the stage, the crowd whipped themselves up into a frenzy as the Japanese band launched into their opening track, ‘Push Back’. This was a set that despite the relatively small stage in comparison, felt just like an arena show…complete with pyros!

The set was teeming with a few older hits, plus a whole bunch of songs from their latest record, Eye Of The Storm (<— review here) – all of which had the crowd singing at the top of their lungs! Their energy was truly infectious from start to finish.

I was particularly impressed by Taka’s live vocals – so often you can hear little flaws in a singer’s voice when they’re performing live, but the power and effort he put into his performance was virtually flawless…even if he did keep fiddling with his in-ear throughout the show.

The quartet know just how to put on a show though; from Taka’s ability to capture the crowd by holding a particular stance and Toru’s rocking out with his guitar to Ryota’s powerful bass moves and Tomoya’s face poking up over the drums, as he beats away at them effortlessly – this is a band that you need to see live. It’s clear that they have spent a long time practising and perfecting their set – there isn’t too much between-song banter, but instead just packing in the songs, to give the audience a great time.

It was my first time seeing the band live and I had an amazing time – it’s so often that the UK send great bands and artists over to Japan to perform but it’s great to see a Japanese band coming over to the UK for a change! I strongly recommend catching this band live, the next time they make a rare appearance in the UK – you won’t be sorry, I promise!

Highlights:

  • Taka’s effortless vocals and stage presence alone, made the show thrilling to watch.
  • Having not heard too much of the band’s back catalogue, it was great to hear a lot of tracks from their most recent album, Eye Of The Storm.
  • There was an instrumental break during which Taka left the rest of the band to rock out on stage, demonstrating just how talented these musicians are – it was nice to see him let some of the other’s in the band have some of the limelight for a while, particularly a little drum solo from Tomoya.
  • The sheer polished-precision with which the band delivered their set, showed just how much rehearsing must have gone in to perfecting their live shows.
  • The loyalty of the crowd, singing back every word of every song, showed just how far-reaching their fan-base is.
  • PYROS! Pyrotechnics just make a show even better! It was great because they weren’t overused, just boosted a couple of songs when you least expected it.

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 Setlist

Push Back
We Are
Taking Off
Unforgettable
Clock Strikes
Head High
Take What You Want
Stand Out Fit In*
(Instrumental)
Giants
I Was King
Change*
The Beginning
Jaded
Mighty Long Fall

Encore
Wasted Nights

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


Finally, I want to say an absolutely HUGE thanks to Robbie Peacock for enabling this review to happen and to both ONE OK ROCK and Anteros for putting on a fantastic show.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other live reviews here:

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Reel Big Fish – Life Sucks…Let’s Dance! 💃🏽


   

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Reel Big Fish are a ska punk band from Orange County, California. They have had many members over the years, with Aaron Barrett (lead vocals, synths/keyboards and guitars) being the only member left from the original lineup. However the sextet also comprises of John Christianson (trumpet & backing vocals), Derek Gibbs (bass guitar & backing vocals), Matt Appleton (saxophone & backing vocals), Lucky LaPenta (trombone & backing vocals) and Edward Larsen (drums). Since their debut album in 1995, the band have been through a major label (Jive) and come out the other side, to establish their own independent label, with a heap of album releases in between. Now, the end of 2018 marks the release of the band’s 9th album, Life Sucks… Let’s Dance! Here’s what we have to say about it…

Reel Big Fish - Life Sucks...Let's Dance.jpg

There are some albums that you can just stick on and relax to, lie in bed and get lost in, or have an easy Sunday morning with. Not this one! Reel Big Fish have crafted another hugely successful record that just begs to be skanked out to!

Life Sucks… Let’s Dance! sets a much happier tone than their last release, Candy Coated Fury (2012), and there is even a sense of a renewed purpose to the band, evident across the record. The song subjects are generally quite tongue-in-cheek, ranging from the bizarre and witty (‘Bob Marley’s Toe’) to the sarcastic and even outright cheeky (‘Bleached Thang, Baby’). One thing is for certain; their outlook on life seems pretty damn chirpy and while listening, all you want to do is dance along from start to finish!

Good vibes run throughout the album and the songwriting, brilliantly diverse instrumentals and top-notch production result in a record that you can’t help but fall in love with.

Barrett states, “Recording the album with this line up was really fun, we all get along really well these days and everybody was excited to make a new record. Everybody had lots of great ideas and really got creative with everything and I really think it shows.” And he’s right; it does! The excitement they felt about recording this album, clearly emanates through to the listener.

Their outlook on life seems pretty damn chirpy and when listening, all you want to do is dance along from start to finish!

It’s so damn hard to narrow it down but some of the best tracks on the record are, ‘Pissed Off’ for its humour and incredible overlapping vocals at the end, ‘Tongue Tied And Tipsy Too’ with its frantic, grungy and very punk guitar riffs, making it a massive moshable anthem and ‘Bleached Thang, Baby’ which is a sassy track with sexy guitar licks throughout – it’s very skankable, chaotic and just makes you want to let loose. The guitar riff at the end is sensational too!

That’s not to say there aren’t other hugely loveable tracks too, the title track, ‘Life Sucks… Let’s Dance’ is a big-hitter; ‘You Can’t Have All Of Me’ has some stunning vocal harmonies at the end, ‘In Love Again’ contains country-like vocals and guitar slides; ‘Another Beer Song’ is a humorous account of getting drunk to get over someone; ‘Ska Show’ is just a damn good song and ‘Walter’s Highlife’ is an uplifting instrumental track that brings the album to a close nicely.

When you hear their first record (released back in 1995) you can hear just how much this band have evolved, to become the well-loved, polished party anthem machine they are today! Regardless of whether you are a long-term RBF fan or new to the genre, there’s no way you will be able to stop yourself dancing manically to this record and easily picking up the lyrics to sing along with! 23 years and 9 albums later, this band are still going strong and showing no signs of stopping…bring on album 10!!!

Rating
4


‘Life Sucks…Let’s Dance!’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/life-sucks-lets-dance/1442723388


Life Sucks…Let’s Dance! on Spotify

You Can’t Have All Of Me (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Reel Big Fish’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: Trophy Eyes – The American Dream 🇺🇸


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerTrophy Eyes are an Australian pop punk band consisting of John Floreani (lead vocals), Jeremy Winchester (bass guitar & backing vocals), Andrew Hallett (lead guitar), Kevin Cross (rhythm guitar) and Blake Caruso (drums). To date, the band have released 2 albums and an EP through Hopeless Records and this, The American Dream, is their third full-length album. Here’s what we have to say…

Trophy Eyes - The American Dream.jpg

The American Dream has a much more mature sound to it than either of the band’s previous releases. It’s somewhere in the vein of Sugarcult‘s Lights Out and You Me At Six‘s Cavalier Youth with some of Thirty Seconds To MarsThis Is War epicness thrown in.

The first track, ‘Autumn’, launches the album with a life-spanning and reflective tune that whilst it doesn’t quite burst into frantic action like so many other pop punk albums, sets a more impressive tone for the rest of the record.

Next comes ‘Something Bigger Than This’, a rather emotive track about being something more than we perceive and how life will make more sense at the end. It’s not crass or overly indulgent in insincerity like so many other bands – this feels real and honest.

In my opinion, ‘Friday Forever’ is by far the best track on the record – from it’s frantic, guitar-driven verses, to its suspenseful build-up into the powerhouse that is the chorus, this track just bursts at the seems with euphoric pop punk at its best. This is definitely a track to keep on repeat!

From epic choruses to emotive lyrics and powerful, pained vocals to punchy guitars, The American Dream is an album that will drive this band forward in their career.

Some of the other, most notable songs include: ‘More Like You’ which is certainly a crowd-pleaser, with its “woah ohs” but has the added depth of scream vocals; ‘You Can Count On Me’ is a definite summer anthem with its massive crescendo and satirical look at band life with the chorus hook, “Some of my friends sell drugs but I just sell sad songs to the ones who feel alone”; ‘Broken’ is a beautiful, ballad-esque track that has a understated yet very catchy chorus – a brilliantly-written track that’s very different to some of the other tracks on the album and ‘Lavender Bay’ feels very nostalgic with mellow, melodic verses and a big gang-vocal chorus singing about how the band won’t rest until they’ve “made it” with the addition of a key change!

The album has a beautifully rich and diverse tone to it – ‘A Cotton Candy Sky’ is an intensely dark and haunting song that feels a little out of place but it’s eerily captivating whilst ‘Tip Toe’ is a great little ballad.

‘I Can Feel It Calling’ is a monumental track, coming in at over 6 minutes in length and going through a range of sounds and displaying a variety of influences, bringing this stunning album to a wonderful close.

This is certainly an album you’ll have on repeat as there’s just so much to love about it! From epic choruses to emotive lyrics and powerful, pained vocals to punchy guitars, The American Dream is an album that will drive this band forward in their career, taking a slightly new direction but picking up new fans along the way. 2018 should be an exciting time for the Australian quintet!

Rating
4-5


‘The American Dream’ is out 27/07/18 and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-american-dream/1382478709


The American Dream on Spotify

Available Friday 27th July 2018.

You Can Count On Me (Official Music Video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs_7y0ToBcU


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


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Now, Now – Saved


   

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Now, Now are an American indie duo originally from Blaine, Minnesota (USA), now based in Minneapolis. The band now consists of founding members, KC Dalager (vocals/guitar/keyboard) and Brad Hale (drums/backing vocals) after a recent departure from their line-up. To date, they have had two, somewhat heavier albums and this, Saved, will be their third, full-length release. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Now, Now - Saved.jpg

It’s been a decade since their more thrashy, emo-esque debut album, Cars, was released (back when they were called Now, Now Every Children) but since then, Now, Now have clearly been working hard on mastering the art of slick production.

This is an album that successfully merges emotive, thought-provoking lyricism based upon relatable topics, with warm, summery production; it’s credible songwriting with certain mainstream, pop sensibilities.

Saved is a stunning record. It has everything from catchy choruses and atmospheric synths to chugging guitars and heavy beats.

It kicks off with the acoustic-led, summer tune ‘SGL’ (short for Shot-Gun Lover) which would be the perfect road trip track, through the open roads of America. From there, you’ve got the captivating ‘MJ’, which makes reference to Michael Jackson‘s ‘Billie Jean’ topped off with a galloping beat (somewhat similar to MJ‘s ‘A Place With No Name’ from 2014’s Xscape)

Another significant track is ‘Window’, with its shimmering synths and manipulated vocals, that continually ascend. It’s a song about desperation for someone;“Every night I’m at your window, Wonder when you’re gonna let me in.”A truly atmospheric track.

Just listening to this album, puts you in an instantly good mood due to its stunning production and uplifting vibes.

‘Powder’ is a massive tune and a superbly powerful and passionate close to the album; it has a catchy, fun start with delicate guitars and subtle synths but as it goes on, descends into a very interesting and heavy breakdown with gritty synths.

There are certainly a lot of resemblances that can be made across the album too: ‘Can’t Help Myself’ has whispery vocals, somewhat similar to Geowulf; ‘Knowme’ is a house-like track with calm, electronica vibes, with elements of Chicane to it; ‘Set It Free’ makes cheeky reference to “wandering hands” and has a certain something about it that reminds me of a cross between The Cardigans and Sixpence None The Richer; ‘Drive’ has a beachy, Lana Del Rey vibe and ‘Holy Water’ is a song which I find merges MUNA with early Dido (with the use of industrial-like sounds) – it’s beautiful and euphoric. That’s in no way saying that they are copying other artists but perhaps making a nod to them; if anything it just goes to show what an eclectic record they have managed to create, with a little something for everyone.

As far as albums go, this is diverse and interesting with a real excitement about it. Just listening to it, puts you in an instantly good mood due to its stunning production and uplifting vibes. They have managed to craft a sound that is somewhere between airy beach-pop and grungy rock, evoking nostalgia and varying emotions throughout. This is fantastic record that is sure to be the soundtrack to many people’s summers this year.

Rating


‘Saved’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/saved/1365088448


Saved on Spotify

AZ (Official Video)

SGL (Official Video)

Yours (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review; what do you make of this band’s latest album, Saved? 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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