#Review: Ben Howard – Noonday Dream


   

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Ben Howard is an English singer-songwriter and musician, most notable for winning the Brit Award for British Male Solo Artist at the 2013 Brit Awards. Since then, his second album, I Forget Where We Were, reached the Number 1 spot in the UK album charts. Now, with the buzz surrounding the release of his third album, Noonday Dream, it could see him reach that same success. Here’s what we had to say about it…

Ben Howard - Noonday Dream.jpg

Ben Howard‘s latest album, Noonday Dream, sees another change to his ever adapting sound, keeping this artist fresh and showing just how diverse he can be. Having seen 4 years pass since his previous album and now at the age of 31, Howard has proven that he won’t be bound to time constraints but instead, ensured he make the time to mature his songwriting and develop a new sound for his next record.

It all begins with the truly haunting and melancholic, ‘Nica Libres At Dusk’ ; a dark and reflective song at the start before emerging into bursts of peaceful reprieve and ecstatic, almost whale song, guitars. It certainly depicts imagery of an American desert, similar to that of the album artwork. Then during the last minute, it transforms into a dreamy, piano-led clearing; a beautiful transformation into a more euphoric sound of hope.

Other songs to take note of include; ‘Towing The Line’ which is an almost Celtic-sounding, folk song with guitars that echo and seem to envelop you; ‘What The Moon Does’ which conjures up imagery of camping out under the stars of the Deep South in America; ‘Someone In The Doorway’, a track that sounds almost like spoken verse, in places, but is probably one of the most upbeat songs on the album and somehow seems like it goes hand in hand with ‘The Defeat’; another similarly half-spoken, half-sung track that has a really rock edge to it.

Noonday Dream is an exquisitely atmospheric, richly textured and highly visual album that is sure to kick off the next chapter in Ben Howard’s career, with meteoric success.

The album was produced by Ben himself, alongside long-time collaborator Mickey Smith, who between them, have done a superb job of capturing subtle nuances that make this such a stunning record. From the warm reverb of his acoustic guitars to the drawn out, whale-like sounds of his electric guitars (as on ‘Nica Libres At Dusk’) and the distinctive piano key strokes to subtle snippets of conversations (among many other captured sounds), this is a truly captivating record.

Noonday Dream is an exquisitely atmospheric, richly textured and highly visual album that is sure to kick off the next chapter in Ben Howard’s career, with meteoric success. Whilst it might not be to everyone’s specific tastes, any person who has an appreciation for skilful musicianship, poetic lyricism and stunning production, will find this to be a real gem of an album.

Rating
4


‘Noonday Dream’ is out 01/06/18 and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/noonday-dream/1364401352


Noonday Dream on Spotify

Nica Libres At Dusk (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Ben Howard’s third album? What would you rate it? 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: Isaac Gracie – Isaac Gracie (Self-Titled)


   

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Isaac Gracie is an incredibly talented singer-songwriter, hailing from London. From humble beginnings, his 2016 demo, ‘Last Words’ caused a big stir online, leading to the head of Universal Music flying over from LA just to see him perform, resulting in his signing to Virgin EMI. Now, in 2018, the songsmith is releasing his debut, self-titled album. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Isaac Gracie.jpg

Every so often an album comes along that is both exciting, inspirational and sonically diverse; groundbreaking even…this is definitely one of those albums! (The last album I felt like this about was Will Joseph Cook‘s Sweet Dreamer.)

Whilst growing up, Gracie’s father left the family home and since signing to Virgin EMI, his longterm relationship sadly ended, but out of the ashes of these life-influencing events came some fantastic songwriting material, resulting in this incredibly powerful debut. As such, throughout the album, there are strong themes of abandonment, guilt and heartbreak; this honest approach and willing exposure of his emotional vulnerabilities is nothing new to songwriting but the way it marries up with the instrumentation is simply marvellous.

Opening track, Terrified’ (think Elbow meets Harry Styles‘Two Ghosts’) chronicles Gracie’s own fears and insecurities surrounding the hype about him, singing, “I’m terrified that maybe, I wasn’t cut out for this.” He really needn’t worry though; he certainly is cut out for this!

‘Last Words’ is a huge track for him; it’s the song that kick-started the buzz about him and whilst it’s very different from the demo, he admitted that he spent quite some time playing around with different versions before settling on the one that’s now on the record. He’s managed to strike a great balance between the original demo, maintaining some of it’s raw essence but also brought more depth to it with the addition of strings. Imagine a track by The Beatles that’s been countryfied and you get this!

The brilliant blend of highs and lows, and fusion of indie, rock, country and latin flavours has genuinely created one of the most genre-bending albums heard in a long time!

‘The Death Of You & I’ is a personal favourite – it’s got an almost latin beat behind it before it unleashes a hidden ferocity. The calm verses that erupt into the heavy, chaotic choruses make this an intense and fun song which you can’t help but want to thrash around to, wildly. There’s even an almost salsa-esque breakdown before the final chorus, making this one of the most intriguing songs I’ve heard in years.

Other stand-out tracks include; ‘Running On Empty’, which is relatively mainstream and quite indie (like something you might expect to hear from The Killers or Maccabees), ‘Telescope’ with its beautiful overlapping vocals at the end, ‘That Was Then’, which has stunning, dynamic vocals, ranging from deep to falsetto, topped off with a powerful and melodic chorus and ‘When You Go’, which is a track you would expect to hear from the likes of The Barr Brothers or Vance Joy and be accompanied by a music video shot with an old, handheld, film-reel camera; it’s strongly folk flavoured.

Gracie has been quoted as saying that he set out to create the best record of all time and whilst there are bound to be people who have differing opinions, he certainly has created a masterpiece! The brilliant blend of highs and lows, and fusion of indie, rock, country and latin flavours has genuinely created one of the most genre-bending albums heard in a long time…yet somehow it still works as a comprehensive body of work that is uniquely identifiable as him. This is an album I am certain will make a big impact this year and will definitely carve out an exciting future for his music career. Utter brilliance!

Rating
4-5


‘Isaac Gracie’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/isaac-gracie/1345686455


Isaac Gracie on Spotify

Terrified (Official Video)

Silhouettes Of You (Official Video)

Last Words (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Isaac Gracie’s self-titled debut album? Are you as much of a huge fan as us? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or chat to us about it via our socials.


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

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#FeelGoodFriday: Miley Cyrus – ‘Malibu’


   

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Miley Cyrus is back with her brand new track, ‘Malibu’, believed to be taken from a new album and damn it’s good! I’ve got a lot of time for this ex-Disney pop princess – her voice is so unique and diverse and she just manages to produce incredible tune after incredible tune.

This track is like a breath of fresh air from the songstress – it’s verses are mild in nature yet somehow the track is elevated with a distinct happiness during the choruses with the funky guitar riffs and gently thumping rhythms.

The video is simplistic yet fun; arty yet honest – the imagery really suits the track!

What a great new direction/return to her earlier sound, from such a superb artist – welcome back Miley Cyrus!

What are your thoughts of her latest song? Got a #FeelGoodFriday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via our socials.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Malibu’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/malibu/id1234316999?i=1234317000


Header image © Billboard (http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/magazine-feature/7783997/miley-cyrus-cover-story-new-music-malibu)

#EventSpeaks: Leah McFall @ Komedia, Brighton – 16/04/17


   

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On Sunday 16th April 2017, Leah McFall arrived in Brighton for the penultimate date on her 2017 INK Tour, which was entirely promoted by herself, selling out 4 of the dates, without any promoters backing her; a truly incredible feat. She was also supported throughout the tour, by local artists, including Taylor Barker (singer of band La Plage) and singer-songwriter, Callum Stewart.


Taylor Barker (singer of La Plage)

Taylor Barker took to the stage rather modestly, yet her voice was a sonic powerhouse. Usually part of the band, La Plage, tonight she performed alone with her guitar but she showed off some impressive skills. The sounds she made with the guitar, backed up her vocals beautifully – it certainly didn’t feel like she was performing alone. A thrilling opener for the evening.


Callum Stewart

Next to grace the stage with his keyboard, was Callum Stewart, a Brighton-based, Northern Ireland-born singer songwriter.

Although his performance got off to a bit of a shaky start, with a dodgy pedal, he quickly recovered, putting on a rather impressive display of self-penned songs, alongside a country cover I’d not heard before. His chats with the crowd were, at times, humorous and he’s definitely got a sound I’d like to hear more of. A talented guy who’s definitely going to be one to watch!


Leah McFall

Leah McFall took to the stage with a roar of excitement from the crowd, singing her debut single, ‘Home’ mashed-up with Aaliyah‘s ‘Try Again’ – instantly letting the audience know they were in for a treat with her show.

She then went on to perform a couple of tracks from her recent EP, INK‘Happy Human’ and ‘Bottle It’, having the crowd singing along to every word. She continued by performing some new songs to see what the crowd would make of them, insisting that she wanted to try them out and feel the audience’s reaction.

Her humorous banter with the crowd was fantastic and felt like a truly personal interaction, keeping the crowd laughing. Her cover of Gloria Gaynor‘s ‘I Will Survive’ had people singing along, however her closing song (a unique version of her infamous cover of Minnie Riperton‘s ‘Loving You’ from her days on The Voice) had everyone held in the palm of her hand, waiting for those trademark whistle notes.

The whole show was a treat to behold – such a powerfully effortless voice; it is undeniable, Leah McFall has got serious talent and you must catch her on her next tour.

Highlights (Watch out, there’s many!):

  • Leah’s incredible vocals just captivated the audience, keeping them hanging on every note.
  • Each time she performed a whistle note, the audience burst into rapturous applause, and she did them so perfectly, she made it look almost easy.
  • Her between-song banter was so on point and witty that she had the crowd in hysterics.
  • Her songs were incredible – the band were superb and her voice was impeccable – it’s definitely given people a taste of more original music to come.
  • My favourite song of the night was ‘Weird To Wonderful’ – I need a studio version of that song!
  • Leah’s genuine and, at times, rather emotional appreciation of her fans was endearing; you could tell she meant every word of gratitude for their adoration and support.
  • Her insistence to meet and greet every single fan (who wanted to meet) her after the show, really demonstrated a reciprocal dedication to her loyal fanbase – needless to say, the queue was epic!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


 Setlist

Home/Try Again
Happy Human
Bottle It
Rubber
Fair Trade
Language
Weird To Wonderful
No Ordinary Love
Colours At A Funeral
I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor Cover)*
Wolf Den
Solid Gold
INK*
Loving You (Minnie Riperton Cover)*

* Parts of these songs can be viewed on the YouTube playlist, below.


Finally, I want to say an absolutely HUGE thanks to Leah for putting on such an incredible evening and all without any backing of promoters – it was a true testament to the power of her fanbase.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#MellowMonday: Little Big Town – ‘We Went To The Beach’


   

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Little Big Town are an American country music group, still consisting of the four founding members, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet.

The band are known for their fantastic ability to perform four-part vocal harmonies and this song is particularly stunning. As the second promotional single to be taken from the band’s eighth studio album (The Breaker), ‘We Went To The Beach’ is a beautiful track with it’s calming acoustic guitars and euphoric, echoing sounds. It’s the perfect start to the week!

No official music video has been released for the track, but the YouTube video below contains the audio. We’ll keep you updated if a music video is released.

What are your thoughts of this stunning track? Have you got a different favourite Little Big Town track? Or another suggestion for #MellowMonday? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or talk to us via our social medias, using the hash tag.

Have a great week everyone!

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘We Went To The Beach’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/we-went-to-the-beach/id1197064702?i=1197065398


#MellowMonday: Lisa Goe – ‘Still In Love’


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I discovered Lisa Goe‘s ‘Still In Love’ on Spotify and instantly, the moment I heard this beautifully melodic song, I fell in love with it. The haunting falsetto wails of the chorus are sheer perfection with a country twang to them; but it’s so much more than just country music! It’s like dream-pop-country’s lovechild!

Based out in Nashville, Lisa Goe appears to be somewhat of a mystery – she’s put our a few EPs but is yet to strike the mainstream, however I doubt it’ll be long, with a voice and songwriting talent, like hers.

I am thrilled to see that there is more music by her and will, without a doubt, be checking out the rest of her stuff!

No official video has been released for this song, which is a shame, but a link to her SoundCloud and Spotify are below.

What do you think? Does Lisa Goe have the voice of an angel? Have you got a #MellowMonday song for us? Please share it in a comment below or on your social medias.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Still In Love’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/still-in-love/id665963671?i=665964141


#Two4Tunesday: Justin Bieber – ‘Sorry’ & Ben Haenow – ‘Second Hand Heart’ featuring Kelly Clarkson


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Justin Bieber – ‘Sorry’

Oh my god! This song is just immense! I loved Justin Bieber‘s Believe album, but I think his newest one, Purpose, is going to blow its socks off!

Bieber has really embraced the current musical trends of Tropical House and Dancehall, which is putting him really on point. I don’t know anyone who didn’t like What Do You Mean?‘ and I think ‘Sorry’ is going to be the same. This song is a collaboration with Where Are Ü Now collaborator, Skrillex and that, in my opinion, is part of the key to his success.

I can’t get enough of this song and his latest singles have definitely let me anticipating his new album. I personally can’t wait!


‘Sorry’ is on iTunes for downloading now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/sorry/id1049359399?i=1049359405



Ben Haenow – ‘Second Hand Heart‘ featuring Kelly Clarkson

There’s no doubt about it, this is straight-up, pure pop music, but it’s a good song! I’ll readily admit, I didn’t really give two hoots about Ben Haenow winning X Factor last year, but this song has impressed me! I am also quite a Kelly Clarkson fan, so that probably helps, but I like the subtle country/folk undertones coursing through the pop melodies and think it makes for an interesting pop song.

The video matches the song well too and it’s filmed in Nashville, Tennessee, giving it that extra country feel.

Interestingly, the song was co-written by members of the pop rock band Artist vs. Poet.


‘Second Hand Heart’ can be downloaded from iTunes right now! Show your support – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/second-hand-heart-feat.-kelly/id1043081452?i=1043081453


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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