#Review: Tom Walker – What A Time To Be Alive

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Tom Walker is a Scottish-born, singer-songwriter that has continued to grow and rise to fame over the past 12 months or so. Aside from relentless touring, he started gathering mainstream attention with the BBC putting him in the running for their Sound of 2018 accolade. Then came the release of his massive single, ‘Leave A Light On’, which received heavy radio airplay, leading to a performance on X Factor. Now 2019 has kicked off with in style, with him winning the Brit Award for 2019’s British Breakthrough Act…and all of this has happened before the release of his debut album! Well, it’s finally here, What A Time To Be Alive and here’s what we have to say about it…

Tom Walker - What A Time To Be Alive.jpg

Passion. Power. Personal. Three words that can’t help but swim through my mind as I listen to Tom Walker‘s debut album, What A Time To Be Alive. All three qualities are beautifully and intricately interwoven too – there is passion and power behind his vocals – both in what he sings and the way he sings it – and the personal songwriting leads to their prominence…and this wouldn’t be such a remarkable record without even one of those elements.

We’re catapulted into the album with ‘Angels’; a track starting out raw and edgy but endlessly continuing to build to a huge crescendo, complete with bells and strings, becoming an intricately layered behemoth of a track by the end, topped off with Tom’s intensely passionate and gritty vocals.

This is soon followed by the hit single, ‘Leave A Light On’, which despite being such a massive single, is interestingly, probably one of my least favourite tracks on the album. It’s a great song lyrically and thematically and I can see exactly why it was such a hit but I honestly preferred the original version, before the off-key synth sounds became so prominent. Also, there’s so much more to love about the album!

He has successfully crafted an outstanding debut album that takes elements from many different genres and styles, mashing them up into the perfect concoction of contemporary pop.

The biggest tracks on the record have to be: ‘Not Giving In’ – haunting wind chimes trickle delicately into the intense track, where echoing vocals and programmed drums lead the verses into the passionate chorus that seems to swirl around you, engulfing with its honest emotion; ‘How Can You Sleep At Night?’ is vocally one of the most diverse songs on the album – quiet, low tones in the verses are pushed by thunderous drums to a chorus of what could be described as vocal hoots and a downward zigzagging of his voice. Melodically, it’s a rather playful track, even though it’s about an intimate subject.

‘My Way’ is a real genre-bender; hip-hop-style drum beats, oriental-tinted synths, a repetitive hook and wonderful production trills, such as subtle, underlying female vocals, make this one of the best songs on the record. An effortless breakdown calms the mood right before bursting back into the repetitive, yet highly addictive chorus. Think EDM elements meet rock with a slightly Asian-flavoured edge.

And of course there’s ‘Fade Away’ which has a very Tom Odell-sounding melody, in places. It’s an emotionally devastating, piano and string-led track, that honestly brings tears to the eyes. Naturally, in its more heightened moments, Tom’s signature, raspy vocals shine through but during the quieter parts, his interesting annunciation and poetic lyricism make this track truly bewitching.

This is a stunning, diverse album that is sure to make massive waves throughout the industry and I’m certain will be a benchmark album for years to come.

‘Now You’re Gone’ featuring Zara Larsson is very electronic in tone with laser-like bass notes and a broken-up rhythm, ‘Blessings’ has an Ed Sheeran vibe and takes a candid look at the modern lifestyle, whilst ‘Dominoes’ is a very political track and another honest take on the state of the world right now, becoming wonderfully chaotic and grungy by the end.

Intrigue doesn’t stop there either, ‘Cry Out’ is like a dark western soundtrack (somewhat reminding me of the Peaky Blinders theme) with chain-clinking sounds giving it a laborious edge and ‘Just You And I’ is an old fan favourite – a big, positive love song. Possibly the most captivating track on the record has to be ‘The Show’ – a story-like track about London that really gives the sense of physically moving through the city streets, just listening to it. It has a real jazzy feel which sound effects weaving throughout the storytelling.

One thing’s for certain, Tom Walker has a very unique blend of styles throughout his music; reggae and urban vibes, with subtle hip-hop undertones are met by electronic synth elements and drum pads, combined with real instruments and rock-tinted vocals all underpinned by sincere, heartfelt (and even occasionally political) lyrical themes. I think I can even detect Bob Marley influences in places – reggae sounds and political themes…or is that just me? Sure, at times his voice is quirky and high-pitched but that is met in equal measure by the grittier, growlier and more powerful moments.

You can’t help but want to compartmentalise him as a singer-songwriter or a pop star but he truly breaks every mould you try to apply him to. He has successfully crafted an outstanding debut album that takes elements from many different genres and styles, mashing them up into the perfect concoction of contemporary pop. Despite being an eclectic collection, it still manages to be entirely cohesive. This is a stunning, diverse album that is sure to make massive waves throughout the industry and I’m certain will be a benchmark album for years to come.

It can only get bigger for him from here and I can’t wait to see what new heights Tom Walker soars to next…I’m just pleased I got to see him at The Green Door Store in Brighton (review here) before it all took off.

Rating
5


‘What A Time To Be Alive’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/what-a-time-to-be-alive/1435094194


What A Time To Be Alive on Spotify

Leave A Light On (Official Video)

Just You and I (Official Video)

Angels (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Tom Walker’s stunning debut, What A Time To Be Alive? 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.


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#WildCardWednesday: Jasmine Thompson – ‘Loyal’

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Jasmine Thompson is a London-based singer-songwriter, born to an English father and Chinese mother and says that, “Having one immigrant parent always provides a unique perspective growing up, a sense of one foot in two different worlds.” Maybe that is part of what makes her sound and voice so utterly captivating…or maybe it’s just her undeniable, raw talent.

At just 18 years old, it’s remarkable just how talented she really is, with a voice that sounds soulful beyond her years. And, whilst she might be a new artist to many, she already has a massive following, which was kicked off by her acoustic cover of Chaka Khan‘s ‘Ain’t Nobody’, that was then remixed and re-released by Felix Jaehn in 2015. From there, she has posted and released countless covers and a string of original songs too.

Now, following the ending of a recent relationship, comes her latest single, ‘Loyal’, on which she reunited with songwriter and producer, Eg White. The song actually began life a year prior to the relationship ending, but was written about the trust issues from within it, so this song is bound to resonate with many people. Especially, as despite the way it ended, she still sings, “I will always be loyal babe,” about the person she met at the beginning.

Throughout the track, her voice is ageless, wise and achingly lonely in tone, conveying the emotion to perfection. It’s a progressive track with some crackling, slow jazz-tinted brass from the beginning, sitting on top of a modern beat, before breaking down to a piano-led interlude in the middle, and then breaking out with some epic string sections, to bring the song to a dramatic close. This is an epic tale, told in just under 4 minutes – a true musical masterpiece!

The music video is great too – there’s a very rustic feel to it with it’s interpretive dance elements inside a quirky, captivating timber-frame location, all shot with a home-video style, giving it a very organic feel.

She is definitely going to be one to watch in 2019!

Jasmine’s EP, Colour, will be out 29th March, on Atlantic Records.

Photo Credit 📸 – Kate Bellm

What are your thoughts of this stunning track from the unique singer-songwriter? Got a #WildCardWednesday 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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‘Loyal’ can be downloaded on iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/loyal-single/1451236610


#Review: Matt Maltese – Bad Contestant


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Atlantic Records - SmallerMatt Maltese is a piano-led, 21-year-old, singer-songwriter, who pens songs that are both emotionally intelligent and satirical at the same time. Having recently toured with Isaac Gracie (review), he is now releasing his debut album, Bad Contestant, through Atlantic Records. Here are our thoughts…

Matt Maltese - Bad Contestant.jpg

Matt Maltese‘s debut, Bad Contestant, is jam packed full of wisdom beyond his years but served up with equal doses of cutting humour, hilarious irony and pure over-exaggeration. This is an artist who merges, at times, understated yet sultry melodies and retro sounds with stunning lyrical craftsmanship to create his own unique style.

Album-opener, ‘Greatest Comedian’, begins with an unassuming introduction before launching into a fantastic set of back-handed compliments topped off with some intriguing instrumentation and beautiful higher-pitched vocals in the chorus; very similar to something by label-mate, Will Joseph Cook.

Title-track, ‘Bad Contestant’, has some seriously funky synth sounds and sees Maltese take on the character of an overly honest and confessional yet fruitless game show contestant.

This is very much an album where jazz and a touch of britpop meet funky, organ-led soul.

Meanwhile, ‘Nightclub Love’ is deeply satirical look at how Maltese sees the realities of clubbing and finding love there, whilst ‘Less & Less’ is an extremely saddening break-up song that is both beautiful and also attempts to put a positive spin on the situation. Of course we can’t go without mentioning the wonderful track, ‘As The a World Caves In’; a hysterical tale of the unlikely hooking up of Donald Trump and Theresa May, watching the nuclear destruction of the world as they do it; genius!

Other key tracks worth taking note of, include; ‘Sweet Sixteen’, an organ-led track taking a twisted look at a modern relationship – the sound is very much somewhere between Kaiser Chiefs and Blur, ‘Like A Fish’ which sounds like the opening to an old, 80s, British TV show and ‘Misery’ which is a dark and intense track with some reverse-sounding vocals on the chorus. In fact, the latter half of the album appears to get darker as it goes on.

The album features production and collaboration by a combination of Jonathan Rado, Hugo White (Maccabees) Alex Burey.

This is very much an album where jazz and a touch of britpop meet funky, organ-led soul, all dressed up in a hipster outfit and sung with a deep, crisp and crooning vocal. Picture BlurPulp and Jamiroquai creating some sort of spliced-together lovechild that’s been brought into the modern, contemporary age and you get Matt Maltese‘s debut, Bad Contestant. A truly alluring debut that is sure to pave the way for an exciting career ahead.

Rating
4


‘Bad Contestant’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/bad-contestant/1365077870


Bad Contestant on Spotify

Greatest Comedian (Official Video)

As The World Caves In (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this singer-songwriter’s uniquely captivating debut album? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or via our social media.


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#MellowMonday: Mullally – ‘Sweet Coffee’ featuring Bassette


   

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21-year-old soul singer, Mullally, has just unleashed his new single ‘Sweet Coffee’ on the world, featuring London artist Bassette and damn it’s good!

The smooth, soulful vibes are the perfect way to wake up to a week ahead – it truly is like the audible interpretation of your first cup of coffee in the morning. Somehow the pair have created the perfect blend of contemporary R&B/Pop inspirations with the powerful vocals and soft melodies of old-school jazz and soul; it’s truly euphoric.

Having already supported the likes of Anne-Marie, Jess Glynne, RAYE and Clean Bandit, played festivals including Glastonbury, Lovebox and Reading/Leeds and winning Best Solo Male at the Unsigned Music Awards, there’s no doubt that this guy is going to become a big name over the coming months.

No music video has emerged online yet but as soon as one does, we will keep you posted.

What are your thoughts of this soulful singer and songwriter? Do you love this song as much as us? Have you got your own #MellowMonday track to share with us? Please leave your thoughts or own song suggestions in a comment or tell us about it via our social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Sweet Coffee’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/sweet-coffee-feat-bassette-single/1364508986


#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Bars & Melody


   

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With the recent release of their second album, Generation Z (check out our review), and currently touring around Europe, we were lucky enough to catch up with Bars & Melody about their recent release, how their writing process has developed, who they’d most like to collaborate with and what Charlie’s most disgusting habit is. It’s all here…


Hey guys, how’s it going?
Hey, we’re great!!!

So you released Generation Z in September and the reception seems to have been incredible, how exciting has that been for you?
Generation Z is an milestone in our career. It’s our second album, we’ve grown so much since our first album, and it’s amazing to see the reception, as it is so great.

Where did the idea for the album title come from and what’s the meaning behind it?
So we were out in Florida writing a song called ‘Scream’. The song was about all the problems of the world, and how unfair it was that our generation (Generation Z) have to live with all the mistakes that the people before us had made. One of the lines for that song is “Generation Z more like Generation Dead” and we found that lyric very powerful, so we decided to name the album Generation Z in honour of that.

What’s your usual process for writing/recording an album?
Our creative process when making an album usually consists of us playing around with a guitar, or listening into some ideas our producers have came up with. We take a lot of time writing lyrics and thinking of meanings for every song.

How did this compare to the experience of recording your debut album?
Generation Z‘s recording process was completely different to our debut album. During our debut album, we were very young and didn’t put as much thought into the writing as we did on Gen Z. Although we love our first album 143, Generation Z is our favourite.

Where do you take inspirations from when writing/recording your music?
When we write our music we take a lot of inspiration from the thought process of teenagers. All of the obstacles you encounter going through the teen phase. We also take inspiration from heartbreak, love and the beauty of the world.

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?
I think if ‘Bars and Melody‘ were to collab with anyone, we would love it to be Justin Bieber, we love his music!

What music have you been listening to most recently?
We love to listen to all different types of music, from Pop to Rock, Rap, Electronic, LoFi and Jazz. We love Music!

If you had to cover a recent chart song (not on your ‘Covers’ album), which song would it be and why?
If we were to cover in the charts right now it would be ‘rockstar’ by Post Malone, We love that song.

You’re heading out on tour at the moment, where are some of your favourite cities/countries to perform at?
We love Asia! Japan is a personal favourite of ours. But we love performing everywhere!

You’ve done shows across the globe but what makes a show particularly amazing for you?
There was one show in Japan where we supported Big Bang, an amazing KPOP group. We performed to over 80,000 people.

Has anything really scary ever happened to you on tour? If so, what?
Nothing really scary has happened to us on tour, luckily.

What are some of the best things that have come out of BAM?
I would say the best thing to come out of BAM is our lifelong friendship. Even after BAM ends, we’ll always have each other.

Have either of you got any disgusting habits?
Leo: Charlie likes to burp a lot and then blow it in my face.

Do you have any other passions outside of music?
Leo: I love to play video games and skateboard!

What really grinds your gears?
I really hate mess!

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you, in life?
The most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me was when I did a school play when I was 5 years old…I wet myself on stage! Oops!

What’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
The best film I have seen lately is a movie called Nerve, I watched it with all my friends! It was amazing.

If, in say 20 years time, a film was made about your lives, who would you want to play each of you?
If a movie was made about us, I would like the cast from Stranger Things to play us.

If you were a chocolate bar, which one would you be and why?
Leo: If I was a chocolate bar, I would be a Lion bar because I’m an animal!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Leo: The best advice I’ve ever been given is to always listen to your mum!

Thanks very much for taking the time to chat, good luck with the tour and next time you’re doing a show down near Brighton I’ll have to come and review it.
THANK YOU GUYS!


Bars & Melody‘s releases are all available:


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#FeelGoodFriday: Kungs vs Cookin’ On 3 Burners – ‘This Girl’


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Kungs is a French DJ and Cookin’ On 3 Burners are an Australian 3-piece who merge funk, soul and jazz.

‘This Girl’ was originally a song recorded by Cookin’ On 3 Burners but since Kungs came along and put his spin on it, it’s become massive!

The song entered the UK charts at Number 5 but went on to knock Justin Timberlake‘s ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ off the Number 1 spot, earning it a Number 1! It’s no wonder either, the song is so summery and funky – it’s just got this awesome vibe to it and the ultimate #FeelGoodFriday song!

What do you think of this jammy little number? Loving the vibes? Please share your #FeelGoodFriday song choice with us, in a comment below too; we love new music!

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘This Girl’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/this-girl-kungs-vs.-cookin/id1083967920


#ThrowbackThursday: Christina Aguilera – ‘Ain’t No Other Man’


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I can’t believe this song is now 10 years old!

Back in 2006, Christina Aguilera released ‘Ain’t No Other Man’ as the lead single to her album Back To Basics.

This song was the start of a new era for Aguilera, as she took on a new sound, incorporating soul, blues, jazz and funk. The track also featured a couple of samples a brass sample from “Hippy Skippy Moon Strut” by Dave Cortez & The Moon People, and a vocal sample “The Cissy’s Thang” by The Soul Seven.

The track did really well, reaching Number 2 in the UK charts and the music video was predictably 1920s themed and perfect for the song.

Were you a fan of the song, back in the day? Are you still a fan of the song? Have you got any good memories of this song? Please share your #ThrowbackThursday songs with us too!

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Ain’t No Other Man’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/aint-no-other-man/id388150154?i=388150495