#Review: Story Of The Year – Wolves


   

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Story Of The Year first captivated my attention with their debut album, Page Avenue, back in 2003. Since then the band have had a string of albums, been involved in a whole host of side-projects, taken a hiatus, reformed and run a successful PledgeMusic campaign, which all lead to this, their sixth studio album, Wolves.

SOTY - Wolves.jpg

The album opens with the title track, ‘Wolves’, which sounds like some sort of background, cinematic sound effects from a horror film, before leading into the intense, fast-paced, gang-vocal-packed song, ‘How Can We Go On’, which perfectly represents the band’s roots in alternative/hard rock. From there, the album weaves its way brilliantly throughout a whole range of powerful, thrashing, metal-like songs and emotionally-driven, rock ballads that you just can’t help but want to belt out loud.

One thing’s for certain; the band have truly poured out their honest feelings and inner-most emotions into every track on this record. It’s also the band’s first album to be recorded in pieces, across several, separate locations, meaning they could really afford to take their time to focus and perfect the sound they wanted to achieve. The album title, Wolves, was chosen to embody the concept of life circling you and closing in on you, just like a pack of wolves.

Some of my favourite and most stand-out tracks on the album have to be, ‘Bang Bang’ (dubbed “a fast-paced, electro-infused rager complete with a catchy chorus” by AltPress), ‘Youth’ (which is a short guitar track that feels anthemic beyond words), ‘I Swear, I’m Okay’ (a synth-driven ballad-esque belter), ‘Can Anybody Hear Me’ (probably one of the catchiest tracks on the record and a real sing-along tune) and ‘Like Ghosts’ (which is just epic and in places the use of synths remind me a little of the Stranger Things theme – this song was born to be in a movie).

Undoubtedly, the quartet have demonstrated how committed they are to making what could well be the best album since their debut.

The record was produced by Aaron Sprinkle (Anberlin, New Found Glory, Acceptance) and mixed by none other than Tom Lord-Alge and J Hall – which probably explains why it sounds particularly epic! It soars to incredible heights and tantalises the melancholic heart-strings in all the right places.

Undoubtedly, the quartet have demonstrated how committed they are to making what could well be the best album since their debut. It’s an inspired body of work that shows off a real depth to their songwriting and evolution in their style. They have managed to record a soundscape of vulnerability, fear and anxiety and present it in a really exhilarating and cohesive body of music. This is certainly an album not to be missed.

Rating
4


‘Wolves’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/wolves/1300989796


Wolves on Spotify

‘Bang Bang’ (Official Video)

‘I Swear, I’m Okay’ (Official Audio)


We hope you’ve enjoyed this review of Story Of The Year’s latest album! What are your thoughts about it? What would you rate it? 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: The Darkness – ‘Pinewood Smile’


   

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The Darkness are an English rock band from Lowestoft, Suffolk who first came to the public’s attention in 2003, with their debut album, Permission to Land. In particular, their debut single, ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’, was a monster hit, reaching Number 2 in the UK Charts. Now, 14 years on, and with a string of other successful singles and albums, the band have just released their fifth studio album, Pinewood Smile.

Pinewood Smile Cover.jpg

Right from the offset of the opening track, ‘All The Pretty Girls’, you get the feeling that this album is somewhat similar in style to their debut (Permission To Land); the guitars are layered and punchy and they’ve managed to re-create the magic of what made them so popular back in 2003, but this time with the incredible drumming talents of Rufus Tiger Taylor (son of Queen‘s Roger Taylor).

Pinewood Smile is without a doubt a more grown-up and darker record from the band. It definitely still has a lot of the charm that The Darkness have become so loved for (in terms of their mash up of classic rock with obvious pop qualities) but they’re taking on more political views (‘Southern Trains’) and cynical stances and clear frustrations of the modern music industry (‘Solid Gold’). Having said that, while it may be a brand new album, it’s packed with tracks which are sure to become classics. There’s still a lot of that tongue-in-cheek lyricism but they’re weaving it in with variations to their style of rock by experimenting with subtle style differences.

It may be a brand new album but it’s packed with tracks which are sure to become classics.

There are some lovely (and at times comedic) gems throughout the album, such as Justin’s Southern American accent on ‘All The Pretty Girls’, while the verses of ‘Lay Down With Me, Barbara’ are reminiscent of smooth jazz – something you might find in some sort of chill-out lounge. Then you’ve got ‘Buccaneers Of Hispaniola’ which contains some insanely great vocal harmonies; ‘Happiness’ which is quite the stadium-filling, chant-along anthem and it all comes to a close with the beautiful and intricate, ‘Stampede Of Love’, which descends into chaos by the end, making for a fitting end to the album.

The entire record was recorded in Cornwall, with award-winning producer and engineer Adrian Bushby (who’s worked with the likes of Foo FightersMuse and My Bloody Valentine) at the helm. He’s done an excellent job of managing to capture the band’s well-known sound but still put his mark on it too – the drums are a lot more prominent than on some of their previous albums and there are lovely elaborate parts to some of the tracks which he really brings out well in the production.

I would recommend this album to anyone who’s about to embark on a long journey and needs something heavy to spice up their travels. Once you know the words, it’s definitely a record you will want to sing along to, especially in a car packed with mates. It’s a witty, punchy and an interesting direction for the band – well worth getting/listening to.

Rating
4


‘Pinewood Smile’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/pinewood-smile-deluxe/id1259927517


‘Pinewood Smile’ on Spotify

Solid Gold (Official Video)

Southern Trains (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of the band’s latest album! What are your thoughts on it? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or let us know 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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#FeelGoodFriday: DNCE – ‘Kissing Strangers’ featuring Nicki Minaj


   

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This is the first new music from DNCE since their debut album in 2016 and it features guest vocals from serial collaborator, Nicki Minaj.

The song has sun-kissed guitar riffs and bass licks throughout; it’s a summery track oozing with gang vocals and beautiful harmonies. The lyrics are saucy and the artwork is 60s in style; reinforcing that it’s a track all about free love. Surely this is the signs of a new album on the horizon?!

No official video has been released yet but undoubtedly one will emerge soon and I’m sure it’ll be fun-filled if the band’s previous releases are anything to go by.

*UPDATE* The official video has now been released and it’s just as tongue-in-cheek, fun-filled and raunchy as I expected. I’m pleased to see Nicki Minaj featured in the video too – not just stylised in the background, like sometimes happens to featured artists and rappers.

What are your thoughts of the band’s new direction? Got any #FeelGoodFriday tunes for us to check out? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or hit us up via our social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Kissing Strangers’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/kissing-strangers-feat-nicki-minaj-single/id1223544918


#Review: Will Joseph Cook – Sweet Dreamer


   

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Will Joseph Cook is a Kent-born singer songwriter who’s been hard at work crafting his sound, supporting on several tours and then in October 2016, embarked on a headline tour. Since then, we had a chat with him about what he’s been up to recently (check out the latest interview) and he’s put the finishing touches to his debut album. This is, Sweet Dreamer.

Will Joseph Cook - Sweet Dreamer

The album kicks off with the chilled sing-along track, ‘Biggest Fan’ with it’s slightly country-tinted guitar twangs, making for the perfect way to open this rather cinematic record. It leads perfectly on to one of Will‘s biggest hits, ‘Sweet Dreamer’; a funky song with incredible production and subtle sounds, topped off with sugar-coated, sombre lyrics; an oxymoron to the all-round uplifting sound of the track.

The record flows incredibly through a whole heap of diverse songs; from indie pop belters to almost club-like anthems, it’s packed with songs that just have to be danced and sung along to. The singer-songwriter also prides himself on his use of imagery to accompany his songs (in the form of well-crafted music videos) but this album also takes you on a journey – each song is able to conjure up images in the mind that could well make for a video – I’m sure that if he had the time, he’d could easily produce videos for each and every song, but that’s because each song on the album feels like it could be a single in its own right.

A forward-thinking, credible pop record, crammed full of diversity, for all the cool kids to revel in. A true modern masterpiece.

Stand-out tracks have to be ‘Treat Me Like A Lover’ and ‘Plastic’ – both have thumping beats that are guaranteed to have you coming back for more; particularly the latter. ‘Plastic’ is tinged with steel drum sounds and massively euphoric vocals that make me certain this huge banger will be a massive hit this summer. As well as some of his other singles, ‘Take Me Dancing’ and ‘Girls Like Me’, which are both awesome, another incredible song is ‘Alive’ – it feels like the song blends many genres and the falsetto vocals are truly captivating. Lastly, both ‘Hands’ and ‘Habit’ are very different songs to the rest of the album; especially ‘Hands’ – it’s a very raw, honest and truthful track that seems almost like a break from the rest of the album.

The production throughout the album is incredible – it comes together amazingly as a cohesive body of work – it’s genre-blending, exciting, playful and all-consuming (in a good way)!

It is undoubtable that this album will be the soundtrack to many people’s summers this year; it’s fun-filled, indie pop that is bursting at the seems with summery vibes, catchy choruses and intelligent lyrics. A forward-thinking, credible pop record, crammed full of diversity, for all the cool kids to revel in. A true modern masterpiece. I can’t get enough of it, and you won’t be able to either.


Will is also off on a UK tour in May, in support of the album. He kicks off the tour at Stereo in Glasgow on 2nd May before travelling to Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Cardiff, Bristol and London. He concludes the tour at The Bullingdon in Oxford on 12th May before heading to several places in Europe. Be sure to check out a date near you – he puts on an amazing show (Check out our review)!


Rating
5


‘Sweet Dreamer’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/sweet-dreamer/id1203346564


Sweet Dreamer on Spotify

Beach (I Wanna Make You Mine) (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of Will’s debut album. What are your thoughts of it? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or chat about it via our social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Janet Devlin

Matt does a Skype interview with Janet Devlin and finds out all about her latest single, ‘Outernet Song’, her upcoming concept album and which flavour biscuit she’d be. It’s all here…


   

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Having recently released her single, ‘Outernet Song’, I got the chance to chat with the talented, Irish singer/songerwriter, Janet Devlin.

During our interview, Janet discussed how her new single, ‘Outernet Song’ came about, discussed her upcoming album (tentatively titled Holy Water) and we even found out what type of biscuit she’d be, so please make sure you check it all out in the video below!

I really hope you enjoy this interview! Please go ahead and show your support by sharing the link on your social media accounts!


*** Apologies for the poor connection quality of this video…it may be a bit jumpy but it’s still a great interview! ***


Janet Devlin‘s releases are all available:


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#Review: MUNA – About U

‘About U’ is MUNA’s must-have debut album – a thoroughly powerful and stunning release!


   

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In case you didn’t already know, MUNA are an American band consisting of Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson, who have been hard at work, crafting their own unique sound and brand of “dark pop”; this is their debut album, About U.

muna-about-u

About U is an incredible debut album; it’s production is slick and the lyrics are playfully honest. The band have ensured to steer clear of gender pronouns to ensure their songs are able to resonate with a person of any gender or sexuality, yet they still cover a wide variety of topics; relationships, heartbreak, regret, freedom and individuality. Yes, it’s an album predominantly about the ups and downs of love, but MUNA have definitely taken a refreshing stance on it.

What I love about this album is how the style of it flows superbly yet each song has its subtle gems in the production, that make each and every one of them stand out.

It features all the fan-favourites (So SpecialLoudspeaker(an unapologetic anthem for being your imperfect self – a real highlight of the album) and Winterbreak) as well as their newest single ‘Crying On The Bathroom Floor’, which is packed with melodrama. Then there’s the huge, hit single, I Know A Place which is pure pop perfection – it’s catchy as hell and the lyrics provide unity; it’s an anthem for the LGBTQ community and has provided a beacon of hope for those who’ve suffered horrendous attacks in recent times.

The band’s sound is stunningly well-crafted; from the huge, euphoric synths and drum pads to the subtle, endearing guitar licks, Katie Gavin‘s vocals weave beautifully across the tracks. At times she has a vocal style similar to that of Katy Perry and the use of vocoders is subtle yet haunting – very reminiscent of Imogen Heap.

Some of the stand-out tracks (besides the singles) include ‘Around U’ (an anthem of detachment; freedom from a former lover), ‘After’ (an exploration of the feelings you get from the morning after the night before) and ‘Promise’ (an admission of lies that have been told, after it’s too late). ‘End Of Desire’ and ‘Everything’ are fantastic songs too.

All-in-all, this album is the perfect debut and thoroughly deserving of the rating I’ve given it. There isn’t much I can fault with it. It almost allows you to forgive yourself for past mistakes you made and empowers you to take control of your life by embracing the highs and lows of love and relationships. A thoroughly powerful and stunning release. I honestly reached the end of the record and wished that they could release another album of new music next week!

Rating
5.jpg


‘About U’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/about-u/id1171832662


About U on Spotify

‘I Know A Place’ (Official Video)

‘Loudspeaker’ (Official Video)


I hope you enjoyed ‘About U’ as much as I did! What are your thoughts? What would you rate it? Please leave a comment below or let us know via our social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Lucy Spraggan – I Hope You Don’t Mind Me Writing


   

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Lucy Spraggan is an outstanding singer, songwriter and all-round storyteller, most notable for her appearance on 2012’s series of X Factor. However, since then, she has built a huge following, from her debut, independent album through to this, her fourth album release. This is ‘I Hope You Don’t Mind Me Writing’.

Lucy Spraggan - I Hope You Don't Mind Me Writing.jpg

The album opens with the folk-like songs, ‘Fight For It’ and ‘Loaded Guns’, the first of which has an almost Irish folksong feel to it and the latter with it’s gun sounds and interesting vocal sample, make for a superb opening to the record. ‘Grown Up’ is a very personal song with a deep appreciation of life while ‘I Don’t Live There Anymore’ is a beautiful reflection of times past.

There are three, clear, stand-out tracks on the album (which must be why they were singles!): ‘Dear You’ is brimming with personal emotion – an open letter which deals with mental health issues (the video for which features Thomas Turgoose and can be seen below); ‘Freddos Aren’t 10p’ with its retro references and nostalgia and ‘Modern Day Frankenstein’ which is a very powerful, catchy song which touches on the positives in a negative relationship.

There are other great tracks, such as ‘Hey William’ (a collaboration with The Dunwells) which is fairly indie in style with great backing vocals; ‘All That I’ve Loved (For Barbara)’ which tells a story and shows off her powerful vocals and ‘Puppy Dog Eyes’ that’s a track about the downfall of a relationship.

The entire album is filled with a strong sense of nostalgia, personal emotions, rocky relationships and her trademark story-telling. It’s what makes Lucy Spraggan such an interesting artist and means that her songs are always diverse.

The production on the album is fantastic and lead by Jon Maguire (who’s also worked with the likes of One DirectionCalum ScottBen Haenow and Sam Feldt)! It can be rare to find a pop album produced predominantly by one person these days, but an excellent job has been done to ensure that all the tracks are diverse in feel yet come together with a similar sound; it’s a truly brilliant record.

In summary, Lucy Spraggan has shown that she has been hard at work further developing her songwriting skills, to produce a heavily themed album but with wide variety of song styles whilst maintaining her fantastically poetic lyric-writing ability. It’s a definite, must-have album!

Rating
4-5


‘I Hope You Don’t Mind Me Writing’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/i-hope-you-dont-mind-me-writing/id1176961001


I Hope You Don’t Mind Me Writing on Spotify

‘Modern Day Frankenstein’ (Official Video)

‘Dear You’ (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of the album…have you heard it yet? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or let us know via our social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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