#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 13/03/20 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

Coming 13/03/20.

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:

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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
http://www.twitter.com/RobManhire
http://www.instagram.com/robmanhire


‘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:

Muzik Speaks Live Reviews


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
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
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


#Review: Kate Nash @ Concorde 2, Brighton – 31/07/19

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On Wednesday 31st July 2019, Kate Nash returned to Brighton to put on another outstanding show, following the release of her 2018 album, Yesterday Was Forever and was supported by the punk quintet, The Menstrual Cramps.


The Menstrual Cramps

The band took to the stage, instantly packing a punch with their all-female brand of punk – think traditional punk rock but with some kick-ass girls showing who’s boss! The lead singer, Emilia Elfrida, was consistently hilarious with her crowd banter between songs and even shared some more personal insights, such as sexual assault she experienced and a song she wrote about it. As per traditional punk, there’s a lot of political messages behind their songs but one I loved in particular was a song, ‘Neo-Nazi’, written specifically for the crowds of an upcoming festival they’re playing at, to get back at them for the death threats and general unpleasantness they received the last time they played there!

Highlight: The energy of the band’s set (in particular the wit of Emilia) and the no-holds-barred approach to their lyricism and addressing of political and social issues! Well worth a watch.


Kate Nash

Right from the offset, there was something instantly better and more high energy about this set than the last time Kate Nash performed in Brighton. That’s not to say she wasn’t great back in 2017, but this time, there seemed to be a real buzz of excitement and a new lease of life to her set, which just instantly created an electric atmosphere throughout the crowd.

Following the release of her 2018 album, Yesterday Was Forever, the audience were treated to a whole host of new and old material in all the right doses. On several occasions, Kate shared the gratitude for her fans’ continued support throughout what has recently been shared (in her rather personal documentary – Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl – via BBC3) as quite a tumultuous period in her life. She also addressed her own personal struggles with mental health and how she believes that everyone should take time to talk about their own mental well-being, before performing, ‘Musical Theatre’ – a wonderfully personal account of her inner-most thoughts.

Naturally, in amongst her newer songs, the performance was interwoven with traditional hits such as ‘Mouthwash’, ‘Pumpkin Soup’, ‘Dickhead’ and ‘Foundations’. There was even a little medley thrown in for good measure, followed by an insanely fast version of ‘Mariella’ and just had the audience going crazy! The speed she performed it at was actually very impressive to behold!

Even though she is already a professional performer, this particular set/tour demonstrated just how much she’s grown as an artist and songwriter but also how much she has honed her live shows. I strongly recommend catching her at your earliest opportunity – you don’t even need to know all her songs, she’s just instantly bewitching!

Highlights:

  • Kate’s energy level was consistently high and her interaction with both the audience and her incredible band, made for a great watch all round. She always makes sure that her band are as much in the forefront as she is.
  • Kate’s vocal performance was stunning; from her beautifully powerful high notes to the delivery of her quirky, trademark, too-many-words-for-one-line lyricism, she was on point throughout.
  • I particularly loved watching her personal performance of ‘Musical Theatre’ – it’s not only got a strong message but her delivery of the song’s lyrics was sensational.
  • Her sense of style was as to be expected – interesting and out there, but oh so perfect.
  • At the end of the set (before the encore), Kate even got off the stage and into the front of the crowd to sing amongst her fans, which made them go wild.

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📷All of the photos of The Menstrual Cramps and Kate Nash are credited to Michael Hundertmark 📸
Why not give him a follow on Instagram and Twitter or check out his website.


 Setlist

Play
Life In Pink
Mouthwash*
Sister
Trash
Always Shining
Musical Theatre
Agenda
We Get On
Kiss That Grrl / Shit Song / Later On
Mariella
My Little Alien
Pumpkin Soup
Foundations*

Encore
Dickhead
Underestimate The Girl

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


Finally, I want to say a great big thanks to Patrick from Lout Promotions for sorting out this review, to Michael Hundertmark for his snaps and lastly, to Kate Nash, her band and The Menstrual Cramps for their amazing performances!


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

Muzik Speaks Live Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Playlist: Brighton Pride Weekender 2019

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Brighton Pride is fast approaching, so to celebrate, we have updated our Brighton Pride Weekender playlist, dedicated to one of the city’s biggest annual events, promoting equality and diversity with the aim to eliminate discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and more (LGBT+) community.

This playlist has been lovingly crafted to include a variety of tracks, by the artists performing at Brighton Pride 2019, as well as some other great anthems!

If you already own the songs and want the custom artwork, please feel free to copy/download it below:

Brighton Pride Weekender 2019.jpg


We hope you enjoy this playlist as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it!

Please share the link to this post, or the playlist itself and give it a cheeky follow on Spotify too – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5nXqTcFL05VwLPppVaNIE6?si=copqGaOHQFi0lnhz6HYV8w.

Also, if you’ve got any songs you want to suggest for us to add, please let us know 🙂

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: ONE OK ROCK @ Roundhouse, London – 10/05/19

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On Friday 10th May 2019, the massive Japanese band – ONE OK ROCK – arrived in London. It was only the second date on their EU leg, of the Eye Of The Storm World Tour and they performed at none other than London’s renowned Roundhouse. The band put on a night to remember, supported by British pop outfit, Anteros.


Anteros

The band took to the stage with their vibrant personas and glitzy 80s synths, further reinforced by lead singer, Laura Hayden’s sparkly red dress. This band are a wonderful blend of indie, pop and new wave – think Blondie meets modern-day contemporary pop; along a similar vein to Fickle Friends. There are certain punk-like trends to Hayden’s stage presence, with her almost “don’t-give-a-damn” flounces around the stage, equally met with gusto – it’s quite mesmerising. The music is good and their energy was captivating to watch.

Highlight: The high-energy end to the band’s set made for a chaotic last impression, certain to leave people wanting more.


ONE OK ROCK

The band have only played in the UK a couple of handfuls of times but it was clear from their loyal fan base, just how much their performances are looked forward too, with a queue that lined up all round the streets, prior to the show.

As ONE OK ROCK took to the stage, the crowd whipped themselves up into a frenzy as the Japanese band launched into their opening track, ‘Push Back’. This was a set that despite the relatively small stage in comparison, felt just like an arena show…complete with pyros!

The set was teeming with a few older hits, plus a whole bunch of songs from their latest record, Eye Of The Storm (<— review here) – all of which had the crowd singing at the top of their lungs! Their energy was truly infectious from start to finish.

I was particularly impressed by Taka’s live vocals – so often you can hear little flaws in a singer’s voice when they’re performing live, but the power and effort he put into his performance was virtually flawless…even if he did keep fiddling with his in-ear throughout the show.

The quartet know just how to put on a show though; from Taka’s ability to capture the crowd by holding a particular stance and Toru’s rocking out with his guitar to Ryota’s powerful bass moves and Tomoya’s face poking up over the drums, as he beats away at them effortlessly – this is a band that you need to see live. It’s clear that they have spent a long time practising and perfecting their set – there isn’t too much between-song banter, but instead just packing in the songs, to give the audience a great time.

It was my first time seeing the band live and I had an amazing time – it’s so often that the UK send great bands and artists over to Japan to perform but it’s great to see a Japanese band coming over to the UK for a change! I strongly recommend catching this band live, the next time they make a rare appearance in the UK – you won’t be sorry, I promise!

Highlights:

  • Taka’s effortless vocals and stage presence alone, made the show thrilling to watch.
  • Having not heard too much of the band’s back catalogue, it was great to hear a lot of tracks from their most recent album, Eye Of The Storm.
  • There was an instrumental break during which Taka left the rest of the band to rock out on stage, demonstrating just how talented these musicians are – it was nice to see him let some of the other’s in the band have some of the limelight for a while, particularly a little drum solo from Tomoya.
  • The sheer polished-precision with which the band delivered their set, showed just how much rehearsing must have gone in to perfecting their live shows.
  • The loyalty of the crowd, singing back every word of every song, showed just how far-reaching their fan-base is.
  • PYROS! Pyrotechnics just make a show even better! It was great because they weren’t overused, just boosted a couple of songs when you least expected it.

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 Setlist

Push Back
We Are
Taking Off
Unforgettable
Clock Strikes
Head High
Take What You Want
Stand Out Fit In*
(Instrumental)
Giants
I Was King
Change*
The Beginning
Jaded
Mighty Long Fall

Encore
Wasted Nights

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


Finally, I want to say an absolutely HUGE thanks to Robbie Peacock for enabling this review to happen and to both ONE OK ROCK and Anteros for putting on a fantastic show.


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

Muzik Speaks Live Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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