#Review: LAUREL – DOGVIOLET


   

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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.


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


   

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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.


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#Review: Between You & Me – Everything Is Temporary ✊


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerBetween You & Me are a pop punk band from Melbourne, Australia. With the success of their stand alone single, ‘Overthinking’, after signing to Hopeless Records, the band are releasing their debut album, Everything Is Temporary. Here are our thoughts on the record…

Between You & Me - Everything Is Temporary

The pop punk genre is saturated with bands that often sound the same, all pumping out new albums constantly, making it pretty difficult to stand out in the market. I actually only gave this one listen before starting to write the review and have to say on first listen I thought this could just be another one of those bands. I’m pleased I gave it a second listen though as this truly is a strong debut.

It kicks off with the punchy ‘Twice Shy’ that shows off some fancy finger work on the guitars, though I would say this is quite a typical album opener for a pop punk band.

‘Move On’ is another great track that continually builds into the final chorus after a stunning little euphoric breakdown. It’s filled with some superb pushes and there are even some subtle happy hardcore vibes going on.

A mixture of angry and heartfelt lyrics, thrashing guitars you can mosh to and highs and lows in all the right doses.

Some of the best tracks on the record have to be: ‘Dakota’ for being an angry break-up anthem with amazing melodies and a hella catchy chorus; ‘Good Intentions’ which completely changes pace and tone part way through – it’s a wonderfully interesting track; ‘Floral Glass’ is a powerful song about losing someone and remaining strong and the “don’t-give-a-fuck anthem, ‘Everything Is Temporary’, all about living life in the moment and having no regrets, knowing that you have to make the most of the good things in life, as they won’t last forever, whilst also knowing that neither will the bad.

There are a few clichés here and there, but that’s almost to be expected with this genre; ‘I Can’t Help It…’ is a short, self-indulgent cry for help and whilst it’s a great song, ‘Friends From ’96’ is an emotive reflection on times passed, starting with a mellow, acoustic intro before building into a full-band song.

That said, it has a bit of everything you could want from an album of this genre; a mixture of angry and heartfelt lyrics, thrashing guitars you can mosh to and highs and lows in all the right doses.

The album is a solid effort and a strong debut from the Aussie pop punkers; it doesn’t necessarily push the boundaries of the genre, but it will certainly have a place in every pop punk fan’s collection. It’s a real shame it’s only just over half an hour long as it’d be good to hear what more they have to offer, but this is surely the start of something great for the quintet!

Rating


‘Everything Is Temporary’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/everything-is-temporary/1372365918


Everything Is Temporary on Spotify

Dakota (Official Music Video)

Friends From ’96 (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s debut album? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below 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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#TunefulTuesday: Jordan Mackampa – ‘One In The Same’


   

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Jordan Mackampa is a Coventry-born, singer-songwriter who has managed to combine his Congolese roots and Midlands upbringing and is deeply inspired by his mother’s love of the great soul singers, as such, Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and Curtis Mayfield.

‘One In The Same’ is a combination of timelessly soulful vocals with catchy melodies, stunning harmonies and beautifully heartfelt lyrics, creating a captivating blend of folk and soul. The track was in fact co-written by Benjamin Francis Leftwich and Matt Ingram and produced by Cam Blackwood.

This is definitely the start of something magical for this artist and I look forward to hearing more from him in the months to come.

Unfortunately no music video exists for this track, as yet, but if one appears online, we’ll be sure to share it with you.

What are your thoughts of this singer-songwriter? Got a #TunefulTuesday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘One In The Same’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/one-in-the-same/1374225159?i=1374225843


#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Ben Haenow


   

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Ben Haenow is probably best known for winning X Factor back in 2014. From there, he released his self-titled, debut album, the lead single from which (Second Hand Heart), featured the singing sensation that is Kelly Clarkson. Now, 2018 has seen the release of his second studio album, Alive. We thought it was a good time to catch up with Ben about everything he’s been up to and more! Check out what he had to say, in this interview…


Hey Ben, how’s it going?
Great thanks! Thanks for having me.

So you are about to release your second album, ‘Alive’, how do you feel prior to a new release? Is it nerve-wracking or exciting?
Yeah, a bit of both. I’m anxious but really can’t wait for people to hear the new tracks so bring it oooon!

Where did the idea for the title come from and what’s the meaning behind it?
The lead track is called ‘Alive’. It was basically written as a thank you to the fans for keeping my dream alive, so we went with that for the album too.

What’s the track you’re most excited for people to hear? What’s your usual process for writing/recording?
The process can vary, sometimes it starts with a vocal melody, or maybe a just a lyric idea or guitar lick. Then it develops from there. It might take a day, a week or longer before it’s all done but that’s the beauty of it. You can take a bit more time writing and playing with sounds until you’re happy. I’d say ‘Give Me Your Love’ is one I want to see reactions too.

Where do you take inspirations from when writing/recording your music?
I guess for this album, the inspiration came from my experiences between X Factor and now. I try to draw on personal experiences when writing as I feel people connect more with something if there is truth/reality in a lyric.

Collaborating with Kelly Clarkson must’ve been pretty cool, how was it?
It was great! She is obviously a very talented lady and boy can she siiiiiing! She was a true professional and an absolute pleasure to work with.

If you could collaborate with anyone else, who would it be and why?
Gary Clarke Jr
– I think the bluesy vibe is really cool and he has a pretty awesome voice too. I love his musical style.

What music have you been listening to most recently?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Stevie Wonder recently so I’m on a soul trip at the moment.

If you had to cover a recent chart song, which song would it be and why?
Selena Gomez
’s ‘Wolves’ – I love the song and have an idea I’d like to try.

That’d be pretty cool…you should do it! So, do you have any pre or post-gig rituals? Or have any of you got any weird habits?
Lots of weird habits if you ask my wife… but we (me and the band) have a ritual which we call ‘Ukla’… I cannot tell you what it is but we UKLAA before every show.

Do you have any other passions outside of music?
I love to cook… and eat.

What really grinds your gears (winds you up)?
The song ‘Jellicle Cats’ from Cats the Musical… I like real cats but that song, and those cats REALLY grind my gears!!

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you, in life?
I was 14, at a motorway service station, whilst en route to Devon with my dad and brother. I was wearing the Kappa tracksuit trousers with the poppers all the way down the legs… my brother thought it would be funny to pull my trousers completely off leaving me in my pants and a t-shirt in the middle of Little Chef!

Oh dear; that’s pretty embarrassing! So, what’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
Guardians of the Galaxy 2… they’re great films.

If, in say 10 years time, a film was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
Danny DeVito or Morgan Freeman… that would be fantastic.

If you were a chocolate bar, which one would you be and why?
I’d probably be a KitKat… chunky.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t eat yellow snow… or brown snow… or snow in general!

Thanks very much for taking the time to chat!
No problem and thank you for having me!!! Hope to speak soon.


Ben Haenow‘s latest album, Alive, is available:


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#Review: William Ryan Key – Thirteen (EP)


   

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William Ryan Key is best known for being the frontman of American rock band, Yellowcard but since their scheduled parting of ways, he has decided to release his own solo project. Here’s what we have to say about his debut EP, Thirteen

William Ryan Key - Thirteen.jpg

Many people will be expecting something in the same vein as Yellowcard but this release couldn’t be further from that sound. It’s clear that William Ryan Key has spent some time developing his own unique, acoustic-led style that is very different to even one of his former band’s acoustic albums.

This is a stunning, warm-sounding and mellow EP, that feels reflective, somewhat sorrowful and like it was therapeutic for him to write. It truly is an EP that would suit a warm summer evening around a campfire, with friends or on a sunny autumnal walk through a forest.

It all begins with track, ‘Old Friends’, which serves as a cleansing opener, reflecting on his past mistakes and seeking forgiveness in order to look to the future with a clearer conscience.

William Ryan Key has always been a lyricist that people can connect with, and this is no different; in fact it might even be a more frank and open set of songs.

‘Vultures’ is probably the most similar track to his former sound with its upbeat guitar patterns, but it’s still heavily led by acoustics and his new, more laidback vocals. This is a song very much about moving on from the past, whilst open and honest track, ‘Form and Figure’ describes the sleepless and anxious state so many experience, after the loss of someone you love.

‘Thirty Days’ is rich with ambient tones, whilst ‘Great Unknown’ takes an optimistic look to the uncertain future.

William Ryan Key has always been a lyricist that people can connect with, and this is no different; in fact it might even be a more frank and open set of songs that is reinforced by its easy listening demeanour – beautiful melodies, calming guitars, stunning vocals and atmospheric sounds.

Fans of Yellowcard will certainly get enjoyment from this, but equally, so will fans of folky, singer-songwriter vibes. It’s an exciting new direction for this incredibly talented musician and I can’t wait to hear what he has to offer next.

Rating
4-5


‘Thirteen’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/thirteen-ep/1382373461


Thirteen on Spotify

Vultures (Official Audio)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this incredible songwriter’s EP? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or via our social media.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#MellowMonday: Post Malone – ‘Psycho’ featuring Ty Dolla $ign


   

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Post Malone burst onto the UK music scene back in 2017, with his massive, Number 1 hit single, ‘rockstar’. Now, 2018 has seen the release of his second album, beerbongs & bentleys, the third single from which is this, ‘Psycho’, featuring guest vocals from Ty Dolla $ign.

Whilst this song hasn’t quite replicated the success of the album’s lead single, ‘Psycho’ is a fantastic track, which peaked at Number 4 in the UK charts.

Lyrically, the song refers to Malone‘s lifestyle and addresses the theme of trust issues that can arise out of fame; it’s a very personal track. This sits on top of a laidback trap beat with a simplistic, yet seriously catchy melody. It’s a subtle yet powerful song.

The music video is pretty cool too – flames, snow, tanks, deserts…it’s a big-budget, rather epic affair.

What are your thoughts of this hip hop artist? What’s your favourite song of his? 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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‘Psycho’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/psycho-feat-ty-dolla-%24ign/1373516902?i=1373517312