#Review: Reel Big Fish – Life Sucks…Let’s Dance! ūüíÉūüŹĹ


   

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Reel Big Fish are a ska punk band from Orange County, California. They have had many members over the years, with Aaron Barrett (lead vocals, synths/keyboards and guitars) being the only member left from the original lineup. However the sextet also comprises of John Christianson (trumpet & backing vocals), Derek Gibbs (bass guitar & backing vocals), Matt Appleton (saxophone & backing vocals), Lucky LaPenta (trombone & backing vocals) and Edward Larsen (drums). Since their debut album in 1995, the band have been through a major label (Jive) and come out the other side, to establish their own independent label, with a heap of album releases in between. Now, the end of 2018 marks the release of the band’s 9th album, Life Sucks… Let’s Dance! Here’s what we have to say about it…

Reel Big Fish - Life Sucks...Let's Dance.jpg

There are some albums that you can just stick on and relax to, lie in bed and get lost in, or have an easy Sunday morning with. Not this one! Reel Big Fish have crafted another hugely successful record that just begs to be skanked out to!

Life Sucks… Let’s Dance! sets a much happier tone than their last release, Candy Coated Fury (2012), and there is even a sense of a renewed purpose to the band, evident across the record. The song subjects are generally quite tongue-in-cheek, ranging from the bizarre and witty (‘Bob Marley’s Toe’) to the sarcastic and even outright cheeky (‘Bleached Thang, Baby’). One thing is for certain; their outlook on life seems pretty damn chirpy and while listening, all you want to do is dance along from start to finish!

Good vibes run throughout the album and the songwriting, brilliantly diverse instrumentals and top-notch production result in a record that you can’t help but fall in love with.

Barrett states, ‚ÄúRecording the album with this line up was really fun, we all get along really well these days and everybody was excited to make a new record. Everybody had lots of great ideas and really got creative with everything and I really think it shows.” And he’s right; it does! The excitement they felt about recording this album, clearly emanates through to the listener.

Their outlook on life seems pretty damn chirpy and when listening, all you want to do is dance along from start to finish!

It’s so damn hard to narrow it down but some of the best tracks on the record are, ‘Pissed Off’ for its humour and incredible overlapping vocals at the end, ‘Tongue Tied And Tipsy Too’ with its frantic, grungy and very punk guitar riffs, making it a massive moshable anthem and ‘Bleached Thang, Baby’ which is a sassy track with sexy guitar licks throughout – it’s very skankable, chaotic and just makes you want to let loose. The guitar riff at the end is sensational too!

That’s not to say there aren’t other hugely loveable tracks too, the title track, ‘Life Sucks… Let’s Dance’ is a big-hitter; ‘You Can’t Have All Of Me’ has some stunning vocal harmonies at the end, ‘In Love Again’ contains country-like vocals and guitar slides; ‘Another Beer Song’ is a humorous account of getting drunk to get over someone; ‘Ska Show’ is just a damn good song and ‘Walter’s Highlife’ is an uplifting instrumental track that brings the album to a close nicely.

When you hear their first record (released back in 1995) you can hear just how much this band have evolved, to become the well-loved, polished party anthem machine they are today! Regardless of whether you are a long-term RBF fan or new to the genre, there’s no way you will be able to stop yourself dancing manically to this record and easily picking up the lyrics to sing along with! 23 years and 9 albums later, this band are still going strong and showing no signs of stopping…bring on album 10!!!

Rating
4


‘Life Sucks…Let’s Dance!’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/life-sucks-lets-dance/1442723388


Life Sucks…Let’s Dance! on Spotify

You Can’t Have All Of Me (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Reel Big Fish’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.


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#Review: Alan Walker – Different World ūüĆć


   

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Alan Walker¬†is a young, Norwegian DJ and record producer who burst onto the scene with his¬†2015 single,¬†‘Faded’ (featuring uncredited vocals by Iselin Solheim) –¬†now platinum certified in over 10 countries and as of December 2018, the music video has received well over 2 billion views! Since then, he has had many successful singles which have received tons of attention online, through countless YouTube views and Spotify streams. Alan has also collaborated with and remixed music for likes of Noah Cyrus, Sia, Bruno Mars, Avicii, Coldplay, Miley Cyrus, Kygo, Charli XCX, Julia Michaels and more. Now, December 2018 sees the release of his debut album,¬†Different World. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Alan Walker - Different World

Alan Walker‘s debut album makes an atmospheric opening with the haunting use of synths and wordless vocal melodies, building continuously, however, just as you think it’s reaching a crescendo that will surely lead into the first track…it goes quiet! Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for atmospheric album tracks that build into the next but the 3 tracks on the album (out of 15), that are intended to prelude something bigger, just drop off like this, leaving a lot to be desired in this respect – they should flow right into the next track, seamlessly!

Some of the best tracks on the record include: ‘I Don‚Äôt Wanna Go’ (featuring Julie Bergan) with its really interesting, low vocals throughout the verses before breaking out into a wonderfully powerful chorus yet it’s obviously very Alan Walker in style, with the almost bubbly synths. Then you’ve got ‘Lily’ (featuring K-391 & Emelie Hollow), an almost story-like track, with a rather dark undertone to it. The high-pitched vocals contrast incredibly with somewhat sinister-sounding electronic elements to the instruments.

‘Do It All For You’ (featuring Trevor Guthrie) begins with a haunting, nursery rhyme vibe to the instrumental; its warbling chime sounds and hip-hop-style beat bring something fresh to the ears. It isn’t an instantly or obviously catchy track yet it’s very well written and you quite easily find yourself singing it several hours later. ‘Sing Me to Sleep’ (also featuring uncredited vocals by Iselin Solheim) is a very powerful song containing shakingly beautiful vocals (somewhat like Ellie Goulding), accompanied by the haunting sounds of children playing throughout the start and verse. Meanwhile, the synths a like a blend of some well-know Chicane and Owl City instrumentals.

However, possibly the best, most commercial-sounding song on the album, is single, ‘All Falls Down’ (featuring Noah Cyrus, Digital Farm Animals & Juliander). It’s just catchy, fun and despite the slightly down-hearted subject matter, is strangely uplifting.

It’s actually an album that depicts a rarely heard, somewhat dark and edgy side of EDM and it’s brilliant!

Both ‘Lost Control’ (featuring Sorana) and ‘Lonely’ (featuring Steve Aoki, IS√ĀK & Omar Noir) have an urban/Indian edge to them, mashed up with a gritty, broken quality to the synth sounds. Whilst, ‘Darkside’ (featuring Au/Ra & Tomine Harket) sounds a lot like ‘I’d Do Anything’ from the musical, Oliver! in the chorus – it has sensational production with a lot of subtle flourishes underlying the main melodies and ‘Diamond Heart’ (featuring Sophia Somajo) makes good use of rain sounds to add to the atmosphere, topped off with a strong vocal like Dua Lipa meets Sia.

Unfortunately, ‘Alone’ is nothing more than a solid album track, that I am certain fans will love, but it’s not the most memorable track, by far, despite the typical Alan Walker-style synth breaks.

Of course, it wouldn’t be right not to mention ‘Faded’; the track that really launched the producer and songwriter into the limelight – as with a couple of my favourite debut albums released by fellow EDM producers this year, it’s a really touching way to end a debut album; bringing it all back round full-circle to where their career began. A great little touch!

It’s clear that Walker likes to use real sounds to enhance the soundscapes he creates, which really add to the ambience throughout the record – it might just be one of the saving graces of the record, making him stand out from so many other EDM producers.

All in all, it’s actually an album that depicts a rarely heard, somewhat dark and edgy side of EDM and it’s brilliant! As I’ve previously stated, if Sigala‘s album was the soundtrack to the party and Jonas Blue‘s was the soundtrack to the after party, then Alan Walker‘s debut album is the soundtrack to the gritty underground club after that!

Whilst I think there are several things lacking in this record, he has certainly spent a long time crafting a production-perfect debut with some interesting sounds or synth choices here and there that add just enough variety to delight your ears and make it stand out.

After the success of ‘Faded’ and the loyal online following he’s built up, I’m sure Alan Walker will have an illustrious career ahead within the genre…it’ll be interesting to see how he develops and grows from here.

Rating


‘Different World’¬†is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/different-world/1445140820


Different World on Spotify

Faded (Official Video)

All Falls Down featuring Noah Cyrus, Digital Farm Animals and Juliander (Official Video)

Darkside featuring Au/Ra and Tomine Harket (Official Video)

Diamond Heart featuring Sophia Somajo (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of Alan Walker’s debut album, Different World! What do you make of it? 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 hit us up via our social media.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#WildCardWednesday: Mark Ronson – ‚ÄėNothing Breaks Like A Heart‚Äô featuring Miley Cyrus


   

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Mark Ronson is certainly a household name already and having¬†released several collaborative hit tracks this year, the five-time Grammy¬†Award-winning artist and producer¬†now returns with a brand new single of his own, ‘Nothing Breaks¬†Like A Heart’ featuring the incredible Miley Cyrus.

The track was co-written by both Ronson and Cyrus, alongside Ilsey Juber, Thomas Brenneck, The Picard Brothers and Conor Rayne Syzmanski, and produced by Ronson, The Picard Brothers and Jamie XX.

The track serves as the first single to be taken from Mark Ronson‚Äôs forthcoming studio album, coming in 2019. It’s also his first pop single as a recording artist since the musical phenomenon that was¬†Uptown Funk! However he’s been busy since then, co-writing the Number 1 song, ‘Shallow’ performed by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, featured in Cooper‚Äôs directorial debut, A Star Is Born, as well as being¬†a member of supergroup, Silk City¬†(with Diplo), releasing the Top 5 UK Chart hit, ‘Electricity’ featuring Dua Lipa.

The track is already making waves around the world, with video trending highly on YouTube. The high-energy video was filmed in Kiev, Ukraine, directed by WAFLA (We Are From LA) and executive-produced by Romain Gravas (M.I.A, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Jamie XX). It features Miley Cyrus being pursued by police with a tongue-in-cheek approach to the reasons behind it. It’s clearly a big-budget affair and really well shot – definitely worth a watch!

ūüﳬ†Benoit Debie

What are your thoughts of this duo’s collaboration? Does it top ‘Uptown Funk’? Do you have¬†a #WildCardWednesday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or hit us up via social media, using the hashtag.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’¬†can be downloaded off¬†iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/nothing-breaks-like-a-heart-feat-miley-cyrus-single/1444462437


#MellowMonday: Zara Larsson – ‘Ruin My Life (Piano Version)’


   

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Zara Larsson is an incredible pop singer-songwriter from Sweden, who has collaborated with the likes of Clean Bandit¬†(Symphony) and MNEK¬†(‘Never Forget You‘), and released a whole heap of monster solo hits too.

Since the release of her debut album,¬†So Good, back in 2017, she has been busy touring and undoubtedly working on new music with her latest single,¬†‘Ruin My Life’ being her first new music since then.

The song itself is a very up-beat pop track that has some rather wonderful production but since the release of the piano version, I haven’t been able to get enough of it. It’s amazing how such a catchy pop track can be made into such a beautiful ballad just by stripping it back to a piano!

Sit back, relax, turn it up loud and get lost in all of its beauty!

What are your thoughts on the piano version of this pop song? 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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‘Ruin My Life (Piano Version)’¬†can be downloaded off¬†iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/ruin-my-life-piano-version-single/1443604009


#WildCardWednesday: Broken Hands – ‘Split In Two’

 

 


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Atlantic Records - SmallerLast week (18th October 2018), Canterbury rockers,¬†Broken Hands, announced that they had signed to Atlantic Records by releasing a pair of brand new singles,¬†‘Split In Two’ and¬†‘Friends House’; their first new music since the release of the 2015 full-length debut,¬†Turbulence.

The five-piece band, which consists of Dale Norton (vocals), his brother, Callum Norton (drums), Jamie Darby (lead guitar), Thomas Ford (bass) and David Hardstone (rhythm guitar & keys),¬†have been busy working with Tom Dalgety¬†(notable for mixing a lot of Royal Blood‘s work)¬†on these two tracks – his style is particularly reflected on¬†‘Split In Two’, which has an amalgamation of both psychedelic and grunge vibes.

The band’s style is further reinforced by the fact they have played shows with the likes of¬†Rolling Stones,¬†Black Sabbath, Blur¬†and Deaf Havana.

The music video for ‘Split In Two’ sees the band¬†performing amongst a glowing green light with a Matrix-style code backdrop.

No details about their forthcoming album have emerged, as yet, but we’ll keep you updated.

Cover Photo ūüďł –¬†Hollie Fernando

What are your thoughts on this band’s latest release, since signing to Atlantic Records? Have you got a #WildCardWednesday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or chat to us via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Split In Two’¬†can be downloaded off¬†iTunes now –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/split-in-two/1438777475?i=1438777478


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


   

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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! ūüėā
  • Her ability to perform songs with such passion that you are drawn in by her every word – she’s a real star.

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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.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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