#Review: The Chicks – Gaslighter

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Dixie Chicks are a well known country pop band comprised of singer Natalie Maines and multi-instrumentalist sisters Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Strayer. The group initially formed in 1989 , in Dallas, Texas and have, to date, released 7 studio albums. Now, 2020 sees the band release their eighth record and their first album in 14 years, Gaslighter. It is also the first record to be released under the new name, The Chicks, following the George Floyd protests. Here’s what we have to say about it…

The Chicks - Gaslighter.jpg

The album launches with title track, ‘Gaslighter’, a no holds barred anthem about the breakdown of Maines’ relationship and ultimate divorce. In fact, this particular topic provides a lot of material for the album – it was originally slated to be a simple record of covers in order to fulfill their contract with Sony, but following her divorce, she was inspired to start songwriting again.

‘Tights On My Boat’ is another one of those tell-all tracks detailing an affair her ex-husband had, with a lover, on the couple’s boat, on which she discovered a tell-tale pair of tights. The track (along with a couple of others) is written with pop songwriter and artist, Julia Michaels. Additionally, the trio collaborated heavily with Taylor Swift‘s 1989 producer, Jack Antonoff, seeing him take production credits for the record and some songwriting credits too.

This album certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to personal or political songwriting. ‘March March’ takes a look at issues of gun control, climate change and underfunded education and puts them through a contemporary bluegrass lens. Whilst ‘Set Me Free’ is all about Maines looking to be released from her marriage.

It’s an exciting pop take on a country record that is likely to reignite fans’ passions for the band and pick up a whole host of new ones along the way too.

Possibly some of the best tracks on the album come in the form of ‘Sleep At Night’, a banjo-led candid look at her ex-husband’s affair; ‘Texas Man’ with its upbeat rhythm combined with rousing lyrics and the captivating vocal riffs of ‘Young Man’.

Possibly my favourite track on the record has to be ‘Julianna Calm Down’ – it builds beautifully throughout with a really catchy, contemporary pop edge to it. Whilst ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ has some wonderful vocal harmonies and a sense of honesty about reflecting on how Maines met her ex-husband.

The Chicks may have changed their name and their new music may well have a certain degree of poppiness that die-hard country fans could cringe at, but this is exactly the evolution you would expect from the band’s last album back in 2006, to where they are today. It’s an exciting pop take on a country record that is likely to reignite fans’ passions for the band and pick up a whole host of new ones along the way too.

Rating
4


‘Gaslighter’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/gaslighter/1499733036


Gaslighter on Spotify

Gaslighter (Official Video)

Sleep At Night (Official Video)

March March (Official Lyric Video)

Julianna Calm Down (Official Lyric Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s eighth studio 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:

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#MellowMonday: Jolé – ‘Alpine Green’

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Jolè (aka Joshua Oliver) first arrived on the scene in early 2016 with his breathtaking brand of folk music. It wasn’t unil 2019 that he released his self-titled debut album, Jolé, on which, the singer-songwriter displayed his talents and abilities to use both electric and acoustic folk to tell personal tales, going on to amass over 2 million streams of the record.

Now, the London singer-songwriter is back with the lead single from his forthcoming Silver Lake EP (out 21st August 2020). ‘Alpine Green’ perfectly captures the power of memory, with this poetic folk song about heartache and longing for someone lost.

This is a track that will not only resonate with those who have lost a loved one but also with those who have experienced profound disconnection from family and friends during the coronavirus pandemic. Its composition is beautiful and sound is nostalgic – a true folk masterpiece, perfect for #MellowMonday.

Unfortunately, no music video exists for this track just yet, but we’ll be sure to keep you updated if one is released – if one were to exist though, I imagine something truly cinematic and beautiful to reflect the imagery of the lyrics. What do you invisage?

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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‘Alpine Green’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/alpine-green-single/1518095638


Jolé · Alpine Green

#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


#Review: RAC – BOY 🔴

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RAC (aka André Allen Anjos) is a Portland-based, Portuguese-American Grammy Award-winning songwriter, musician and record producer. To date, he has released a couple of studio albums and already had a career spanning 10 years. Now, 2020 marks the release of his third album, BOY, featuring a wealth of guest talent. Here’s what we have to say about it…

RAC - BOY.jpg

BOY is best described by Anjos himself, who pushed his artistic limits by navigating his way through his complex childhood. “This album is about growing up,” writes Anjos. “I was tapping into melodies that remind me of that period of my life. Rooted in a sense of nostalgia, growing pains and coming of age. It’s an elusive feeling but I tried to capture it and ultimately re-interpret it through a modern lens.”

This nostalgia is evident throughout the album, with a series of 80s synths and funky guitar vibes to bring together this collective body of work, whilst still maintaining a contemporary edge to it. Plus, the wealth of guest talent across the album is a testament to RAC’s creative magnetism. “It’s conversational,” he says of his working style with the artists he features. “We find shared experiences and I give them space to tell their story through my lens.”

Whether it’s the bittersweet melodic ‘Boomerang’ (featuring Luna Shadows); the guitar-heavy ‘MIA’ with captivating vocals from Danny Dwyer or the sweet-sounding ‘Oakland’ (featuring Winnetka Bowling League) about leaving someone behind to start somewhere new, there is something for everyone on this rather summery record.

[RAC has] created a wonderful collection of contemporary pop songs that are beautifully understated yet superbly powerful!

Standout tracks would have to be: ‘Passion’ (featuring Louis The Child) for its light, funkiness, vibing along the lines of Foster The People or Two Door Cinema Club‘Together’ (featuring Evalyn) which is not only a catchy tropical house-like track but the beat almost double-times part way through, making it quite different; and ‘Sweater’ (featuring Maddie Jay) – a straight-up funk track with great guitar melodies that run alongside the vocals yet both give each other space to play in the gaps between them.

That’s not to forget the previously-released singles from the record: ‘Carefree’ (featuring LeyeT) that has crisp, sometimes fast-paces vocals and simplistic production melodies that make it really stand out; ‘Stuck On You’ (featuring Phil Good) with rap-esque verse vocals and a clearly catchy chorus; and ‘Change The Story’ (featuring Jamie Lidell) – a very bass-heavy track with horns and a David Bowie meets Prince vocal to top it off.

The album has a couple of fillers that could easily have been left off, ‘Next To You’ (featuring Emerson Leif) is fairly mumble sung whilst Solo’ (featuring Gothic Tropic) is chaotic in places and not the best track on the album, by far. ‘Better Days’ (featuring St. Lucia) is a little disappointing too – it’s a strong 80s power ballad and though the blend of male and female vocals is nice, St. Lucia is not featured much.

The album is stitched together by a series of musical intros and interludes all around off-key sorts of melodies with nonsensical vocals. ‘Gomas’ is very much 80s meets Game Boy, whilst ‘Dolores Park’ is probably the most beautiful of them all.

It’s easy to see how this producer has taken the theme of growing up and collaborated with others to tell his story with a deep sense of nostalgia, creating a wonderful collection of contemporary pop songs that are beautifully understated yet superbly powerful! It’ll be interesting to see where RAC takes his next album – will it be as thematic or something different?

Rating
4


‘BOY’ is out now and can be downloaded from Apple Music – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/boy/1500009251


BOY on Spotify

Stuck On You featuring Phil Good (Music Video)

Carefree featuring LeyeT (Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this songwriter and producer’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.


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

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#ThrowbackThursday: Bloodhound Gang – ‘The Bad Touch’

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Who doesn’t remember this song from 20 years ago?! Bloodhound Gang released ‘The Bad Touch’ in the UK back in April 2000 and, with their unique brand of comedic hip-hop that had slightly punk rock tendencies too, the band went on to score a Top 5 hit, reaching Number 4 in the UK Charts.

The quintet filmed a rather hilarious video to accompany the track too – seeing the band dressed in “MonkeyRat” costumes causing havoc around Paris by capturing various stereotypes and putting them in a cage before releasing them to dance in formation with their captives.

The video caused some controversy due to some versions featuring a French gay couple being hit over the heads with baguettes, however lead singer, Jimmy Pop was quoted a saying, “I would give any gay man two tickets to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of his choice if he could describe exactly who’s going to become violent based on that scene”.[1] Is this “gay bashing” or simply a bit of light-hearted comedy? I’d suggest the latter given the rather witty nature of a lot of their back catalogue and if titles of their albums, such as Hooray For Boobies, are anything to go by.

What are your thoughts of this band’s banterous single, 20 years on? Did you love or hate it back then? What do you think of it now? Do you have a #ThrowbackThursday track from 20 years ago, to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘The Bad Touch can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/the-bad-touch/1440807607?i=1440808397


#Review: Belmont – Reflections (EP)

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Chicago, IL outfit Belmont are about to drop a new EP of tracks they describe as “a collection of new ideas, experimentation and an opportunity to lay down anything we’ve ever wanted to musically”. This make for an interesting prospect for a band who are quite progressive in their approach.

Belmont - Reflections.jpg

I’ve been following the progress of Belmont for a while and really enjoyed their offerings so far. The progressive-punk 5-piece have an appeal for fellow musicians by demonstrating some great technicality in their music, however I always felt they lacked an attraction for a wider audience.

Reflections looks like it’s addressing this. Firstly, there is a good use of synth and samples like those used in the opener ‘By My Side’ and its follow up ‘Deadweight’. This really pulls the tracks towards those big chart hitters you hear when accidently cycling through the radio in the car. If it’s not your thing, it won’t put you off as Belmont incorporate it well into the tracks as it fits nicely with their signature, driving drum lines. ‘Deadweight’ also brings in some quieter sections for the verses which adds to the more radio-friendly appeal – for some reason it reminds me of the likes of Owl City.

The band hasn’t lost any of their progressive nature that they are known for. ‘Back and Forth’ highlights Belmont’s ability to throw you around rhythmically. The fast-changing guitar sections alongside drummer Brian Lada’s ever surprising and chaotic drum fills keep you interested in everything that going on but don’t over power any of the tracks on the EP. This really shows up in ‘Hideout’, which has a beautifully calming verse, but ‘Lada’ can still bring the grooving rhythm without spoiling it.

This EP is a great example of moving a band onto a bigger stage, without losing the essence of what got them there in the first place.

The pop punk vibe shines throughout the EP too. ‘Stay Up’ has that classic, fast-pace feel and gang vocals that are bound to get a crowd up, moving and screaming “Stay Up, Stay Up!”. It’s felt across the EP, with truly catchy chorus lines that really stick with you. It’s not just the catchiness that give it that punk feel, ‘Move Along’ shows Belmont’s pop punk influences further with an awesome verse riff that throw you back to early days of blink-182 and New Found Glory.

Overall, Reflections feels like it’s bridging a gap for Belmont, in connecting with more fans, although I don’t think this was their intention. As they head out on some bigger tours, alongside big hitters like Tiny Moving Parts, this will only put them in great stead to grown their fan base… and deservedly so. This EP is a great example of moving a band onto a bigger stage, without losing the essence of what got them there in the first place.

For fans of: Tiny Moving Parts, Knuckle Puck, Neck Deep.

Rating
4


‘Reflections’ is out now on Pure Noise Records and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/by-my-side/1498675814?i=1498675818


Reflections on Spotify

Deadweight (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s latest EP? 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


Rob Manhire
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#FeelGoodFriday: Midnight Skies – ‘Falling Apart’

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When Matt emailed me to say we had some Pop-Punk to review, I was on it like skaters on a freshly waxed library fire escape. Anyone who knows me, knows I love Pop-Punk and I’ve ruined a fair few Spotify algorithms whilst DJing in the passenger seat, to prove the point (sorry Allen!). Here’s what we had to make of ‘Falling Apart’ from Pop-Punkers Midnight Skies

‘Falling Apart’ is the third single from Seattle’s Midnight Skies. The trio only formed in the summer of 2018 but have been steadily releasing content and building a decent following in that time. As always, the Pop-Punk scene is awash with bands claiming “energetic live shows”, “fun-loving” and “always up for a party” but at the end of the day, good tracks in this genre need three things and this review is broken down across such things:

Thing #1It needs to be “short and sweet” – and unfortunately ‘Falling Apart’ is a full 4 minutes long. Now it would be wrong to judge purely on the length of a song but it doesn’t feel like the track uses the time well. This single could have easily ended prior to its middle 8 and no one would have noticed, but the change of pace here is welcome and worth the wait. The song then classically falls back into its chorus, as it should, but rather than ending here, there is a 30-second outro that dampens the energy of the song by drawing it out for too long. It feels like the band are trying to crowbar in all the features we enjoy in a good Pop-Punk song, some of which really work, others not so much.

Thing #2It’s gotta be catchy! All great Pop-Punk anthems have great hooks and this is no exception. The chorus has a great melodic and lyrical hook which I haven’t stopped humming around the house since my first listen. Its initial repetitiveness, followed by the falling melody with the title lyrics bring memories back to classics from Hit The Lights and Forever The Sickest Kids, leaning slightly more towards the pop than punk element of the genre. This also comes through in the production of the track, which contains many effects across the track, especially on the vocals. Personally, I have never been a big fan of this, but I know some will love it!

Finally Thing #3Does it get the party started? Absolutely! It’s definitely a track that will at least get your head nodding, but stick it on at a party and I think it would get people dancing. Mostly this is down to the driving rhythm and the use of the double snare hits on the drums that give the track a lot of pace. This only relents within that middle 8 section which slows the pace down and adds some nice dynamics to the track.

Overall, this is a good track but it struggles to stand out in an already dominated field. However, if you saw these guys live and heard this track, you would remember it and hearing it again would send you back to a good night out. It feels like a blank canvas ready for you to attach your own good times and every time you put it on, I hope it would cast you back to a good night out with friends.

For Fans Of:
Forever The Sickest Kids, All Time Low, The Summer Set

3

What are your thoughts of this Pop-Punk band? Do you have a #FeelGoodFriday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via our social media.

Rob Manhire
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‘Falling Apart’ is out on We Are Triumphant and can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/falling-apart/1485448144?i=1485448820


#Review: MUNA @ Concorde 2, Brighton – 02/12/19

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On Monday 2nd December 2019, MUNA arrived in Brighton to perform the first date of their Saves The World Tour – their first ever headline UK tour. They band were supported by Fake Laugh. Here’s what we had to say about the incredible evening…


Fake Laugh

Armed with a fellow band member and a laptop of backing tracks, it’s incredible how Kamran Khan (aka Fake Laugh) creates such a full sound – as if he had an entire band with him. The set was filled with original tracks that could easily sit well in an American teen drama (think maybe The O.C.?!) due to his interesting brand of dreamy indie-pop. That said, he also pulled out a couple of excellent, more rocky guitar riffs that added another interesting depth to the set. Although he is somewhat awkward with his crowd interactions, that doesn’t stop him from getting the crowd moving.

Highlight: There was one particular song towards the end of the set, which I don’t believe is online, but the guitar riff and melody, paired with Kamran’s smooth vocal, was a tremendous thing to watch and dance to.


MUNA

Following a beautiful, instrumental intro, MUNA took to the stage and launched straight into ‘Number One Fan’ to rapturous applause from the crowd! They proceeded to play a string of songs, both old and new, from their debut (About U) and sophomore (Saves The World) albums.

Their Saves The World Tour marks the first headline, UK tour for the band and the Brighton show was their first date of the tour. To say the set was outstanding would be an understatement – the band really were jaw-droppingly brilliant, from their tight performance and engaging stage presence to Katie’s incredible, powerful vocals and they played to a room filled with nothing but love!

It doesn’t matter if you are a massive MUNA fan and know all the words to every one of their songs, or if you are new to them, because the vibes from both the band and the crowd are electric and every single person is able to feel welcome, accepted and a part of something special.

The relationship between the trio is genuine and packed with honest banter – at one point Katie made a small mistake and the others joked with her about it openly to the crowd but it was all taken in good fun and the audience found it hilarious too.

What possibly struck me most about seeing this band perform is the live interpretations of their tracks and just how genre-bending they really are! On some songs you can hear an almost country twinge to their style whilst on others they rock out, with one track even having a metal-style moment to it, which sent the crowd cheering. However at their core, this band are still a dark pop powerhouse with an 80s throwback feel to them.

Whether you’re a long-time MUNA fan or only just hearing about them, I cannot recommend highly enough, to try and catch them live – they will not disappoint and you will not stop moving throughout their entire set!

Highlights:

  • The stunning vocal performance from Katie (Gavin) throughout was breath-taking!
  • The chemistry between the trio (and their touring drummer and bassist) was electric – their actual performance was impeccable too!
  • The energy coming from the band was reflected throughout the crowd, filling the room with love, excitement and a truly euphoric energy.
  • The undertones of various genres being blended together, makes the band a real pleasure to watch – and as Naomi even said at one point, she “really believes [they] are the best f**king band in the world!”
  • It was a really nice touch that the band requested the venue make their toilets gender neutral for the event, to ensure everyone feels comfortable – a really caring touch for their very diverse fanbase.


 📸 All of the photos of MUNA are credited to Chloe Hashemi 📷
Go and give her a follow on Instagram and Twitter, and visit her website.


 Setlist

Number One Fan*
Stayaway
Crying On The Bathroom Floor
Around U
Never
Navy Blue
Everything
Winterbreak
Taken
Pink Light
Good News (Ya-Ya Song)
Hands Off
Loudspeaker*
I Know A Place*
It’s Gonna Be Okay, Baby

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


Finally, I want to say massive thanks to xyz and also Chloe Hashemi for her incredible live photos of the show!


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

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#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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www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks


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