#Review: Wallows – Nothing Happens

facebook_logos_PNG19751.png    ios_homescreen_icon.png   app-icon2.png


Muzik Speaks Loves Atlantic Records - SmallerWallows are a 3-piece, indie rock band from Los Angeles, consisting of actors Dylan Minnette (13 Reasons Why) and Braeden Lemasters (Men of a Certain Age) plus drummer, Cole Preston. The trio first formed under their current moniker back in 2017, self-releasing their debut single, before signing to Atlantic Records in early 2018. Now, 2019 sees the release of the band’s debut album, Nothing Happens. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Wallows have successfully crafted a blend of 80s new wave, alternative rock and indie, right from the very first notes of the intense opening track, ‘Only Friend’, that instantly engage the listener and force you to turn it up, before blending seamlessly into second track, ‘Treacherous Doctor’; by far the best track on the record – it’s catchy as hell and ballsy with its heavy interludes, making it really stand out.

Catchy melodies are not lacking on this record either! Lead single, ‘Are You Bored Yet?’ (featuring Clairo) demonstrates perfectly, the sort of thing to expect from the album, and is a great marriage of male and female vocals. Whilst second single, ‘Scrawny’, would sit well on a soundtrack, switching up the tone, part way through the song. Then there’s ‘What You Like’ with its electronic, 80s vibes – a strong verse vocal and intense reverb, like something by Sparks, and ‘Remember When’ offers a hook that will stay with you for days. ‘Ice Cold Pool’ offers a musically uplifting tempo and shimmering guitar lines.

There’s no doubt that this is a summer soundtrack and would fit well in a teen programme, like The OC, conjuring up images of a road trip in a convertible, with friends, shot with a vintage camera. It’s the sort of record that you could either sit back and relax to, or get lost in at a summer BBQ – it’s dynamic and delightfully enthralling.

This is quite possibly one of the most interesting and exciting, American indie bands I’ve heard for some time.

Generally, this is a fairly fast-paced album but ‘Sidelines’ offers a more downtempo reprieve and a synth line that reminds me of Caesars’ ‘Jerk It Out’ (just not as upbeat), as does the album closer, ‘Do Not Wait’ – a haunting, dream-like instrumentation in the first half, that builds to a more frantic, psychedelic close, with it’s spoken-word vocal.

The whole album is written solely by the band themselves and produced by John Congleton (Lana Del Rey, Franz Ferdinand & Jamie T) – this might explain why the record sets them up as the kings of interesting breakdowns and unusual soundscapes that weave their way throughout the record. They take unexpected, sonically captivating twists and turns throughout and Dylan’s vocals are, at times, monotonous and somewhat apathetic, but it works so delightfully well! It’s definitely an album for all ages – millennials are bound to love it, as will original fans of 80s synth rock.

I’m sure some people will turn their noses up at Wallows for the fact that they’re established actors, but that shouldn’t detract from what a great record, and band, this is! Nothing Happens is a very strong, well-written and well-produced album that although very indie on the surface, at its core, takes a lot of influence from a fair few 70s and 80s tracks. Having listened to this captivating record several times now, I am left excited for what more they have to offer, and if their next album is as strong as this, they will continue to pave a great career for themselves. This is quite possibly one of the most interesting and exciting, American indie bands I’ve heard for some time.

Rating
4


‘Nothing Happens’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/nothing-happens/1450670646


Nothing Happens on Spotify

Scrawny (Official Music Video)

Are You Bored Yet? (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this band’s debut 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.


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

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks

Advertisements

#Review: Avril Lavigne – Head Above Water 🌊

facebook_logos_PNG19751.png    ios_homescreen_icon.png   app-icon2.png


It’s hard to believe that Avril Lavigne dropped her first single, ‘Complicated’, back in 2002 but since then, the songstress has had 5 studio albums, 23 singles, 27 music videos (including ‘Girlfriend’, which became the “first music video to reach 100 million views on YouTube”) and has even appeared on several television shows and films. Now, six years since her last, self-titled album, 2019 sees the singer-songwriter putting out her sixth studio album, Head Above Water; a personal account of the trials and tribulations she been through over the past few years. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Avril Lavigne - Head Above Water.jpg

Head Above Water is probably Avril Lavigne‘s most mature album to date, seeing a real evolution in her songwriting. Throughout the record, she paints a candid, honest and deeply introspective portrait of a truly tumultuous period in her life.

It all begins with the album’s title track, ‘Head Above Water’, which is in fact the song that kick-started the writing of the whole album. She stated, “One night, I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die. My mom laid with me in bed and held me. I felt like I was drowning. Under my breath, I prayed, ‘God, please help to keep my head above the water.’ In that moment, the song writing of this album began. It was like I tapped into something. It was a very spiritual experience. Lyrics flooded through me from that point on.” In this truly stunning track alone, Avril Lavigne documents her fight with Lyme Disease (as a result of which, she set up The Avril Lavigne Foundation, to raise awareness of the condition – visit http://www.TheAvrilLavigneFoundation.org for more information), showing her strength of character to fight and overcome it.

As if that song wasn’t different enough, ‘Birdie’ demonstrates a diverse instrumental with intricate production where stripped-back moments show off her voice beautifully and a distorted vocal break adds another dimension to the track in which compares herself to a caged bird.

Equally, ‘I Fell In Love With The Devil’ and ‘Tell Me It’s Over’ are both tinted with Lana Del Rey-esque vibes. The first blends both high and low-pitched vocal harmonies to create an ominous tone to the track, perfectly mirroring the theme of a toxic relationship, whilst the latter’s sultry vocals and brass elements in the verses lead into a massive, soulful chorus, making it possibly the most unique song Avril has ever released.

There is a bit of a lull in the uptempo vibes towards the middle-end of the record (but still great tracks!) ‘Souvenir’ is a cute little love song that although a touch juvenile, is actually very endearing, whilst ‘Crush’ is a sparkly-sounding, soulful number.

It might not be her most obviously banging release, but it certainly packs a punch on the emotive side, with such wonderfully poetic lyricism.

‘Bigger Wow’ isn’t the most memorable song though it’s incredibly catchy and unequivocally pop, however I can’t help but feel it’s virtually a carbon copy of Hailee Steinfeld‘s single, ‘Starving’ with Zedd.

That said, although on the whole Head Above Water is quite the far cry from any of her previous releases, there are definite nods to her former sounds. ‘Dumb Blonde’ (featuring none other than Nicki Minaj – which was clearly a last-minute addition to the track, as the review version of the album did not feature her at all) takes a massive leaf out of her 2007 smash hit, ‘Girlfriend’. Additionally, ‘It Was In Me’ has a massive throwback vibes to her 2002 hit, ‘I’m With You’, but nevertheless, it’s amazing and the build up at the end is truly goosebump-inducing!

The album draws to a close with ‘Warrior’, thematically bringing us back full circle to where we began. The lyrics possibly aren’t the most imaginative on the record but they certainly show the strength she has found within herself, to get through some of the toughest years of her life and with that comes an audible gratitude and renewed lease of life.

Whatever you think of Avril Lavigne‘s previous incarnations, you can’t hear this album and deny that it’s a passionate and very personal offering from the star and although there isn’t a completely cohesive style throughout, it’s refreshing to hear her trying something new. The break has done her voice good too – there’s a renewed power and technique behind it and she’s using it in ways she hasn’t much before.

Of course, there are bound to be people that will slate her for moving away from her old sound and those who will criticise her for trying something new, but personally I love and commend this record for being evolutionary and so clearly therapeutic. It might not be her most obviously banging release, but it certainly packs a punch on the emotive side, with such wonderfully poetic lyricism. Now it’s time to return to the top Avril Lavigne – welcome back!

Rating
4-5


‘Head Above Water’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/head-above-water/1442724476


Head Above Water on Spotify

Head Above Water (Official Video)

Tell Me It’s Over (Official Video)

Dumb Blonde featuring Nicki Minaj (Lyric Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Avril’s sixth studio album, Head Above Water? 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.


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

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks

#EventSpeaks: LAUREL @ The Hope & Ruin, Brighton – 01/10/18


   

facebook-like   Instagram


On Monday 1st October 2018, LAUREL came to Brighton in support of her debut album, Dogviolet (check out our review here). Since her last, solo performance in Brighton, the songwriter returned with a full band to delight her audience with offerings from her recent record. She was supported by Another Sky and her guitarist, Polly Money.


Polly Money

It always amazes me how someone with just an electric guitar and their voice can produce such a big sound but Polly Money certainly achieved this with her performance. Just funky guitar riffs and her sugary-sweet vocal (somewhat similar to that of Leah McFall or NAO), wowed the audience. A very humble performance with some lovely melodies.

Polly Money Instagram


Another Sky

This band truly blew me away (and I believe the rest of the audience too!) – they have an incredibly full-on sound with excellent use of backing tracks as well as their live instruments. Each song of theirs was pretty unique – for example, the opening to their set was ambient and airy whilst their next song brought about a huge wave of excitement due to its intensity and just how tight their performance was. The vocalist’s voice is incredibly diverse, whilst mainly quite low-pitched, is capable of a wide range. The guitarist had some funky little moves too. Another Sky are definitely going to be a band to watch out for, and certainly recommend catching them live!

Highlight: The biggest highlight, was this one note the vocalist did, towards the end of one of their songs; it was so loud, high-pitched and perfect that it was all-consuming. It sent shivers down my back.


LAUREL

Having seen LAUREL play a solo set at The Green Door Store (review here) back in 2016, it was amazing to watch her performing with a full band. Although it was a relatively short set, it was amazing to see her playing songs from Dogviolet, with a full sound.

Some of the best songs were: ‘All Star’ for its wonderful guitar riff; ‘Lovesick’, which is just a catchy track to get the audience going, ‘Sun King’ which was beautifully intimate – just LAUREL with an acoustic guitar and ‘Life Worth Living’ – it’s just a downright tune!

Of course I won’t be the first person to say it, but there are great similarities between LAUREL and Lana Del Rey, however there is something much more vulnerable about LAUREL and it feels like she has more integrity about her.

It was also interesting to find out that she has recently released a book called, The Mutterings of a Laurel, which is a journal she kept during the writing and recording of Dogviolet – definitely worth checking out.

Having seen LAUREL perform twice now, I can assure you that she puts on a show you don’t want to miss. You really need to catch her now before she’s selling out bigger shows, especially since she just filmed her appearance for Later… with Jools Holland the morning of the Brighton show…sounds like the start of something big for this little star.

Highlights:

  • LAUREL is a very humble artist with an endearing awkwardness about her audience interaction, you can’t help but love.
  • The hilarious names she has for her guitars, which her manager proudly embarrassed her by announcing. It’s not my place to share them, but go see her live and you might find them out! 😂
  • Her ability to perform songs with such passion that you are drawn in by her every word – she’s a real star.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Setlist

All Star
Lovesick
Hold Tight
Sun King (Solo Acoustic)
Same Mistakes
South Coast
Adored
Blue Blood
Life Worth Living*

This song can be viewed in the YouTube video, below.


Finally, I want to say a big thanks to Chris (LAUREL’s manager) and Henry (in LAUREL’s PR team) for enabling this review to happen. A big thanks also to Polly Money, Another Sky and LAUREL herself, for putting on such an incredible, intimate show.


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

Muzik Speaks Live Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks

#Review: LAUREL – DOGVIOLET


   

facebook-like   Instagram


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.


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

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks

#Review: Death Cab For Cutie – Thank You For Today ☁️


   

facebook-like   Instagram


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.


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

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks

#Review: Now, Now – Saved


   

facebook-like   Instagram


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:

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks

#Review: Geowulf – Great Big Blue


   

facebook-like   Instagram


Geowulf is a duo comprised of members Star Kendrick and Toma Banjanin, originally from Australia. They started writing music a few years ago and released their first track, ‘Saltwater’, in July 2016, which now features on their debut album, Great Big Blue. Here’s what we had to say about it…

Geowulf - Great Big Blue.jpg

Self-described as ‘Beach Pop’, this album is exactly that; it’s hypnotic, easy listening music with a brilliant blend of laid-back guitars, floaty vocals, subtle synths, down-tempo beats and all-round melancholic vibes.

This album is Americana through and through and could quite happily be the soundtrack to a lazy afternoon around a Californian pool-side or whilst hitting the open road in a big convertible, wind through your hair, driving down an American highway. It has a strong resemblance to some of Lana Del Rey‘s music too…just with a slightly more light-hearted feel to it.

Great Big Blue is hypnotic, easy listening music with a brilliant blend of laid-back guitars, floaty vocals, subtle synths, down-tempo beats and all-round melancholic vibes

Prior to its release, the album enjoyed several successful singles but some of biggest highlights on the record include; ‘Sunday’, which is a beautifully mellow ballad, setting the tone for what’s to come (plus the opening lyric gives the album its title), ‘Saltwater’, is slightly more up-tempo with a real summery warmth to it, ‘Get You’, has an almost African rhythm, topped off with Star’s long, drawn-out notes, whilst ‘Drink Too Much’ is probably one of the most conventionally pop tracks, with a tongue-in-cheek look at how drinking a little more than you should, whilst on a night out, can land you in trouble when you get home, with the simplistic yet honest lyrics; ‘Coz I get myself in trouble when I drink too much, Think too much, And you’re somehow on my mind when I drink too much, Think too much.‘ At face value, it sounds cheerful and uplifting but when you listen to the lyrics, it’s a real oxymoron to the sound.

On first listen, the songs tend to blur a little into one, however it’s after a few plays through that you can begin to detect the differences between each track and truly admire Star’s euphoric vocals, Banjanin’s stunning melodies and understand the complexity behind the simplistic-sounding, psychedelic production, appreciating just how much time and effort must have gone into producing Great Big Blue. I have to say, whilst I really did enjoy this record, from start to finish, it is not necessarily an album that you will want on repeat for weeks on end; it’s a very good album but will it stand the test of time? Sadly, I’m not convinced.

Rating
3.5


‘Great Big Blue’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/great-big-blue/1316527015


Great Big Blue on Spotify

‘Saltwater’ (Official Video)

‘Don’t Talk About You’ (Official Video)

‘Get You’ (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of Geowulf’s debut album! What do you think of it? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or hit us up via our social media to talk about it.


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

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks