#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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Rob Manhire – Muzik Speaks
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#FeelGoodFriday: Alphalove – ‘Don’t Wanna Stop’ featuring Conor Maynard

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Alphalove (aka Alex & Chris) are a pair of music producers from the UK, who signed with Insanity Records (Sony UK) in 2020.

The pair teamed up with internet sensation Conor Maynard to create this remake of a Luther Vandross classic, modernising it for the year 2021.

The EDM/dance take on the track brings something completely new to it and features a series of classic EDM traits, from the piano-led lead to the thumping basslines and drum patterns; it’s a song I’ve had on repeat for days and one you can’t get enough of. It’s the perfect end to the week for #FeelGoodFriday!

No official music video exists at present, so for now you’ll just have to enjoy the lyric video below.

What are your thoughts of this dance duo’s remake of a classic? Do you have a #FeelGoodFriday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Don’t Wanna Stop’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/dont-wanna-stop-feat-conor-maynard-single/1543753386


#TunefulTuesday: Troye Sivan & Kacey Musgraves – ‘Easy’ featuring Mark Ronson

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Troye Sivan is a South African-born, Australian singer-songwriter, actor and YouTuber with a series of singles, albums, EPs, movies and vlogs under his belt.

This particular version of the song, ‘Easy’, is a remix of his original track, and was released in December 2020. It features vocals from American singer-songwriter, Kacey Musgraves and production from British musician and producer Mark Ronson. In fact, Musgraves actually co-wrote and performed a new verse specially for the song, whilst Ronson added a really cool disco-pop vibe to the track.

The song is catchy as hell and the perfect song for Tuneful Tuesday, as I’ve had it on repeat for days!

The music video for the track is pretty awesome too – featuring both Sivan and Musgraves as two people on the run, driving vintage cars, dyeing their hair and perfoming in a motel room as well as going to over-the-top drag shows and dancing the night away. It’s a must-watch!

What are your thoughts of this pop banger? Do you have a #TunefulTuesday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Easy’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/easy-feat-mark-ronson-single/1543288293


#MellowMonday: Gabrielle Aplin – ‘When The Lights Go Out’

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Gabrielle Aplin is an English singer-songwriter who amassed a following after uploading a series of acoustic music covers to YouTube, before signing to Parlophone in February 2012.

Her style falls anywhere from folk and indie rock to synthpop, with her latest single, ‘When The Lights Go Out’, being a mellow, synth-driven anthem.

This particular song was written shortly after the release of her latest album, Dear Happy. Aplin says, “I wanted to make a song that felt like a hug that you can also dance to and I’m considering it the song that closes the Dear Happy book.”

It does just that – it manages to be a somewhat upbeat record that you can have a boogie too, whilst also being something mellow, easy listening and like the closing of the Dear Happy chapter in her career. It’s a brilliant amalgamation of happiness and calmness and is mellow enough to be a great #MellowMonday start to the week.

I can’t get enough of this track right now!

What are your thoughts of this singer-songwriter’s latest single? Do you have a #MellowMonday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘When The Lights Go Out’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/when-the-lights-go-out-single/1543733734


#FeelGoodFriday: Jonas Blue & MAX – ‘Naked (Club Mix)’

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Since its release a couple weeks ago, the anthemic ‘Naked’ has amassed over 13 million global audio and video streams, but now the hit-maker Jonas Blue and exciting young talent MAX are releasing the club mix of their collaboration, which sees Jonas create a mix true to his roots.

This particular track is a high-octane display of the pop hitmaker’s specialist production talents. Armed with pumping kick drums and euphoric piano keys, the club mix adds a fresh dimension to the already, highly-infectious original, making it the perfect track for this week’s #FeelGoodFriday.

No music video has been released for the club mix but the original music video can be seen below, featuring the pair performing amongst neon and silhouetted ladies.

What are your thoughts of the club mix of this pair’s new single, ‘Naked’? Do you have a #FeelGoodFriday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Naked (Club Mix)’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/naked-club-mix-single/1520494645


#FeelGoodFriday: Big Wild – ‘Touch’

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Singer, songwriter and producer Big Wild (aka Jackson Stell) is back with his first new music since his 2019 debut album, Superdream, in the form of brand new single, ‘Touch’. This time he has taken on a new edge with a blend of almost western movie soundtrack vibes and electronic production, creating something perfect for Feel-Good Friday.

‘Touch’ is a disco-infused, bright indie single with seriously catchy pop undertones that really increase the rich, colourful emotion that Big Wild has become known for.

Although it was written before the current coronavirus pandemic, the song is about longing for a loved one – something that will probably resonate all too well with people during lockdown.

Speaking on the new single, Stell added: “I’m sure with the current state of the world ‘Touch’ will take on a different meaning than I intended but that’s the best part of writing music, seeing where a song goes. I can’t claim any foresight, but the feeling of deep longing and desire is universal. It’s interesting because I was writing from a personal place but this theme is something we’re feeling on a societal level right now. People need connection.”

The lyric video suits this song perfectly too with it’s spaghetti western edge to it. No music video has been released as yet.

What are your thoughts of this producer’s latest single? Do you have a #FeelGoodFriday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt Wright – Muzik Speaks
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‘Touch’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/touch-single/1501740551


#WildCardWednesday: Firing All Cylinders – ‘What Is Love’ (Haddaway Cover)

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I am a huge sucker for 90s dance classics, so when I saw that Firing All Cylinders had done a metal version of ‘What Is Love’ by Haddaway, I was all ears. The Californian metallers toyed with the idea that initially started as a joke but we are happy they went with it!

If you don’t know the song by title, you will certainly know it by its opening synth hook. ‘What Is Love’ charted across the world in 1993, but by no means set it on fire, however, it has become a cult classic along 90s music fans. Firing All Cylinders have kept the essence of the track by keeping that oh so recognisable synth motif almost exactly as it sounds on the original, but have brought their own metal chug and groove underneath.

Personally I love it, but I know it will divide a lot of people. It’s not the first time we’ve seen metal bands do this to beloved pop songs, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. 90s dance just seems to lend itself well to this kind of thing. However unlike others, I feel the band have not strayed too far away from the original that it is not recognisable. There are no heavy breakdowns, no guttural screams just a homage to a classic.

The video really stretches the idea of what love is. The original video had a slight dark feel to it (for the 90s anyway), but Firing All Cylinders have taken it about 1,000 steps further. It’s dark, it’s ritualistic and involves sacrifice and is probably more what fans of the band would expect.

We aren’t too fussed by the video, but the track is definitely worth a listen for all you 90s dance cross metal fans out there!


What are your thoughts of this metal band’s cover of the 90s dance classic? Do you have a cool cover for #WildCardWednesday to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Rob Manhire
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‘What Is Love’ can be downloaded off Apple Music now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/what-is-love-single/1505584706


#FeelGoodFriday: Steve Aoki & Darren Criss – ‘Crash Into Me’

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Steve Aoki is known for being an incredible musician, DJ and producer, for having worked with countless incredible artists and for his unique brand of EDM music. Darren Criss is known for his acting and singing talents in Glee and for portraying Andrew Cunanan in the second series of American Crime Story. But, together they have created this incredibly catchy, upbeat and all-round feel-good version of Dave Matthews Band‘s classic track, ‘Crash Into Me’.

23 years after the original release of the song, the pair have created a rather unlikely cover that just works so well! They have beautifully blended real instruments (acoustic guitar) with some incredible dance elements, Darren Criss‘ smooth, pop vocals plus one hell of sick drop, to turn this ballad into an EDM powerhouse of a track that is just all-out, unapologetic fun.

It certainly isn’t an obvious choice of cover but the pair have made a song that I just can’t get enough of – put it on, turn it up and just enjoy every moment of it.

Check out the quirky, yet rather funny video (below) too – the animation is pretty hilarious!

What are your thoughts of this EDM cover of Dave Matthews Band’s classic track? Do you have a #FeelGoodFriday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Crash Into Me’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/crash-into-me-single/1472425666


#Review: Klingande – The Album

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

Klingande - The Album

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating
4


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


The Album on Spotify

Amsterdam featuring Bright Sparks (Official Lyric Video)

Messiah featuring Bright Sparks (Official Video)

By The River featuring Jamie N Commons (Official Video)

Jubel (Official Video)


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


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

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with John Gibbons

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I recently had the privilege of doing a Skype interview with Irish producer and remixer, John Gibbons, following the release of his latest single and cover of the massive 1994, ‘Hotstepper’.

We spoke all about how some of his cover versions came to be, who he’d most like to collaborate with, what his passions are outside of music and one of his most embarrassing moments on stage. It’s all here…



John Gibbons‘ releases are all available:


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