#Review: Avril Lavigne – Head Above Water ūüĆä

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It’s hard to believe that Avril Lavigne dropped her first single, ‘Complicated’, back in 2002 but since then, the songstress has had 5 studio albums, 23 singles, 27 music videos (including ‘Girlfriend’, which became the ‚Äúfirst music video to reach 100 million views on YouTube‚ÄĚ) and has even appeared on several television shows and films. Now, six years since her last, self-titled album, 2019 sees the singer-songwriter putting out her sixth studio album, Head Above Water; a personal account of the trials and tribulations she been through over the past few years. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Avril Lavigne - Head Above Water.jpg

Head Above Water is probably Avril Lavigne‘s most mature album to date, seeing a real evolution in her songwriting. Throughout the record, she paints a candid, honest and deeply introspective portrait of a truly tumultuous period in her life.

It all begins with the album’s title track, ‘Head Above Water’, which is in fact the song that kick-started the writing of the whole album. She stated, ‚ÄúOne night, I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die. My mom laid with me in bed and held me. I felt like I was drowning. Under my breath, I prayed, ‚ÄėGod, please help to keep my head above the water.‚Äô In that moment, the song writing of this album began. It was like I tapped into something. It was a very spiritual experience. Lyrics flooded through me from that point on.‚ÄĚ In this truly stunning track alone, Avril Lavigne documents her fight with Lyme Disease (as a result of which, she set up The Avril Lavigne Foundation, to raise awareness of the condition – visit http://www.TheAvrilLavigneFoundation.org for more information), showing her strength of character to fight and overcome it.

As if that song wasn’t different enough, ‘Birdie’ demonstrates a diverse instrumental with intricate production where stripped-back moments show off her voice beautifully and a distorted vocal break adds another dimension to the track in which compares herself to a caged bird.

Equally, ‘I Fell In Love With The Devil’ and ‘Tell Me It’s Over’ are both tinted with Lana Del Rey-esque vibes. The first blends both high and low-pitched vocal harmonies to create an ominous tone to the track, perfectly mirroring the theme of a toxic relationship, whilst the latter’s sultry vocals and brass elements in the verses lead into a massive, soulful chorus, making it possibly the most unique song Avril has ever released.

There is a bit of a lull in the uptempo vibes towards the middle-end of the record (but still great tracks!) ‘Souvenir’ is a cute little love song that although a touch juvenile, is actually very endearing, whilst ‘Crush’ is a sparkly-sounding, soulful number.

It might not be her most obviously banging release, but it certainly packs a punch on the emotive side, with such wonderfully poetic lyricism.

‘Bigger Wow’ isn’t the most memorable song though it’s incredibly catchy and unequivocally pop, however I can’t help but feel it’s virtually a carbon copy of Hailee Steinfeld‘s single, ‘Starving’ with Zedd.

That said, although on the whole Head Above Water is quite the far cry from any of her previous releases, there are definite nods to her former sounds. ‘Dumb Blonde’ (featuring none other than Nicki Minaj – which was clearly a last-minute addition to the track, as the review version of the album did not feature her at all) takes a massive leaf out of her 2007 smash hit, ‘Girlfriend’. Additionally, ‘It Was In Me’ has a massive throwback vibes to her 2002 hit, ‘I’m With You’, but nevertheless, it’s amazing and the build up at the end is truly goosebump-inducing!

The album draws to a close with ‘Warrior’, thematically bringing us back full circle to where we began. The lyrics possibly aren’t the most imaginative on the record but they certainly show the strength she has found within herself, to get through some of the toughest years of her life and with that comes an audible gratitude and renewed lease of life.

Whatever you think of Avril Lavigne‘s previous incarnations, you can’t hear this album and deny that it’s a passionate and very personal offering from the star and although there isn’t a completely cohesive style throughout, it’s refreshing to hear her trying something new. The break has done her voice good too – there‚Äôs a renewed power and technique behind it and she‚Äôs using it in ways she hasn‚Äôt much before.

Of course, there are bound to be people that will slate her for moving away from her old sound and those who will criticise her for trying something new, but personally I love and commend this record for being evolutionary and so clearly therapeutic. It might not be her most obviously banging release, but it certainly packs a punch on the emotive side, with such wonderfully poetic lyricism. Now it’s time to return to the top Avril Lavigne – welcome back!

Rating
4-5


‘Head Above Water’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/head-above-water/1442724476


Head Above Water on Spotify

Head Above Water (Official Video)

Tell Me It’s Over (Official Video)

Dumb Blonde featuring Nicki Minaj (Lyric Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Avril’s sixth studio album, Head Above Water? 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: 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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#Review: Now, Now – Saved


   

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Now, Now are an American indie duo originally from¬†Blaine, Minnesota (USA), now¬†based in¬†Minneapolis. The band now consists of founding members, KC Dalager (vocals/guitar/keyboard) and Brad Hale (drums/backing vocals) after a recent departure from their line-up. To date, they have had two, somewhat heavier albums and this,¬†Saved, will be their third, full-length release. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Now, Now - Saved.jpg

It’s been a decade since their more thrashy, emo-esque debut album,¬†Cars, was released (back when they were called¬†Now, Now Every Children)¬†but since then,¬†Now, Now have clearly been working hard on mastering the art of slick production.

This is an album that successfully merges emotive, thought-provoking lyricism based upon relatable topics, with warm, summery production; it’s credible songwriting with certain mainstream, pop sensibilities.

Saved is a stunning record. It has everything from catchy choruses and atmospheric synths to chugging guitars and heavy beats.

It kicks off with the acoustic-led, summer tune ‘SGL’ (short for Shot-Gun Lover) which would be the perfect road trip track, through the open roads of America. From there, you’ve got the captivating ‘MJ’, which makes reference to Michael Jackson‘s ‘Billie Jean’ topped off with a galloping beat (somewhat similar to MJ‘s ‘A Place With No Name’ from 2014’s Xscape)

Another significant track is ‘Window’, with its shimmering synths and manipulated vocals, that continually ascend. It’s a song about desperation for someone;‚ÄúEvery night I‚Äôm at your window, Wonder when you‚Äôre gonna let me in.‚ÄĚA truly atmospheric track.

Just listening to this album, puts you in an instantly good mood due to its stunning production and uplifting vibes.

‘Powder’ is a massive tune and a superbly powerful and passionate close to the album; it has a catchy, fun start with delicate guitars and subtle synths but as it goes on, descends into a very interesting and heavy breakdown with gritty synths.

There are certainly a lot of resemblances that can be made across the album too: ‘Can’t Help Myself’ has whispery vocals, somewhat similar to Geowulf; ‘Knowme’ is a house-like track with calm, electronica vibes, with elements of Chicane to it; ‘Set It Free’ makes cheeky reference to “wandering hands” and has a certain something about it that reminds me of a cross between The Cardigans and Sixpence None The Richer; ‘Drive’ has a beachy, Lana Del Rey vibe and ‘Holy Water’ is a song which I find merges MUNA with early Dido (with the use of industrial-like sounds) – it’s beautiful and euphoric. That’s in no way saying that they are copying other artists but perhaps making a nod to them; if anything it just goes to show what an eclectic record they have managed to create, with a little something for everyone.

As far as albums go, this is diverse and interesting with a real excitement about it. Just listening to it, puts you in an instantly good mood due to its stunning production and uplifting vibes. They have managed to craft a sound that is somewhere between airy beach-pop and grungy rock, evoking nostalgia and varying emotions throughout. This is fantastic record that is sure to be the soundtrack to many people’s summers this year.

Rating


‘Saved’¬†is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/saved/1365088448


Saved on Spotify

AZ (Official Video)

SGL (Official Video)

Yours (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review; what do you make of this band’s latest album, Saved? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Two4Tunesday: Jason Derulo – ‘Colors’ & Janelle Mon√°e – ‘PYNK’ featuring Grimes


   

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Jason Derulo – ‘Colors’

Jason Derulo is one of those artists who is instantly recognisable! Often just from the start of a tune, you can tell it’s by him, and then again when his voice kicks in.

This isn’t the first time Derulo has teamed up with Coca-Cola (remember 2012’s ‘Undefeated’?). Now he’s back with Coca-Cola’s anthem for the FIFA World Cup 2018.

‘Colors’ is certainly a world anthem, promoting pride and patriotism for your county but at the same time, celebrating everyone else’s, not seeing rivalry.

This is a positive, uplifting track that is sure to get people going and excited for the tournament ahead. Also, the video is pretty fun too!


‘Colors’¬†is¬†on¬†iTunes for downloading now! –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/colors/1356224861?i=1356224875



Janelle Mon√°e – ‘PYNK’ featuring Grimes

Janelle Mon√°e has just released her third album, Dirty Computer, and ‘Pynk’ is one of my favourite singles from the record.It’s a collaboration with Canadian art pop artist, Grimes and is a song all about female empowerment, self-love…and there are certainly strong references to female genitalia! This can be seen from the music video too (see below).

The track actually interpolates parts of Aerosmith‘s ‘Pink’, and as such, are credited as writers of the song.

This is a strong song to kickstart your Tuesday, so turn it up loud and enjoy!


‘Pynk’¬†can also be downloaded from iTunes now! –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/pynk-feat-grimes/1350021308?i=1350021466


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#NewMusicFriday: Something Leather – ‘Disappear On Me’

 


   

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Something Leather are a three-piece band, consisting of members Phillie (Vocals/Organ), Greg (Guitar) & Mike (Drums), hailing from our very own Brighton, UK.

In 2017, the band released their debut single,¬†‘Shotgun Persona’,¬†which successfully launched them and opened up the doors to the alternative rock scene in Brighton. Now in 2018, they are releasing the follow-up to their debut,¬†‘Disappear On Me’, which is psychedelic and trippy, to say the least.

The trio are predominantly led by a 70’s electric organ and mystifying vocals, topped off by a grungy guitar and some intense drums.

I can only imagine the carnage these guys cause when playing live and am certain they will be making their mark on the local Brighton scene throughout 2018. Be sure to check them out soon.

What are your thoughts of this triad of alternative rockers? Got a #NewMusicFriday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or hit us up via our social media.

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‘Disappear On Me’¬†can be downloaded from iTunes now –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/disappear-on-me/1350159838?i=1350159839


#Review: Dashboard Confessional – Crooked Shadows


   

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Dashboard Confessional are¬†an American rock¬†band from Boca Raton, Florida, led by frontman, singer and principle songwriter, Chris Carrabba. Since their debut album release, back in 2000, the band have gained a massive, loyal following and are now releasing their seventh album,¬†Crooked Shadows. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Dashboard Confessional -Crooked Shadows.jpg

It’s been eight years since the band’s last album but Chris Carrabba and the rest of Dashboard Confessional are back with a new studio album, however this one has just 9 tracks, making it more of a mini album. Also, traditionally known to be a fairly emo band, this album sees them venturing into slightly newer territories.

It all kicks off with ‘We Fight’, which is an all-out, scream-it-at-the-top-of-your-lungs anthem for anyone and everyone that’s got something to fight for…or against, whilst ‘Heartbeat Here’ is a mellower, acoustic, crowd pleaser that is just begging for an audience to chant along with it. ‘Catch You’ and ‘About Us’ have some simply stunning yet powerful vocal harmonies, epic choruses and great, subtle use of synths. Then there’s ‘Belong’ (a collaboration with Cash Cash) – this is the most unique track on the album, and sees the band take on a much more modern sound (almost venturing into Maroon 5 territory). On first listen, I actually felt like it was almost confusing the direction of the album a bit, but it’s actually become one of my favourite tracks on the record…plus it provides a welcome change in vibe at the midway point. However, I’m certain that this track will be divisive amongst fans and that many will not like tropical-house feel or over-produced nature.

Crooked Shadows is very much an album that has something for everyone – it demonstrates that they aren’t afraid to update their sound with the times.

There are also couple of slower, more emo-style, heartstring-pullers, ‘Open My Eyes’ and the almost ‘Time Of My Life’-esque (Green Day), ‘Just What To Say’ (featuring Chrissy Costanza) that expose Carrabba’s raw emotion and vulnerable lyric-writing abilities. Whilst the title track, ‘Crooked Shadows’ and ‘Be Alright’ are big, rock-out songs.

Crooked Shadows is very much an album that has something for everyone and whilst it’s probably never going to quite live up to the fans’ love of A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar, it really is a fantastic new release and a great comeback record. It demonstrates that they aren’t afraid to update their sound with the times. I thoroughly enjoyed it; it’s just a shame that there aren’t more tracks.

Rating


‘Crooked Shadows’¬†is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/crooked-shadows/1334380586


Crooked Shadows on Spotify

We Fight (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Dashboard Confessional’s seventh studio album? Do you agree with our rating? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or share your feelings about it with us on our socials.


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#Review: Rae Morris – Someone Out There


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Atlantic Records - SmallerRae Morris is an English singer and songwriter, hailing from Blackpool, Lancashire. With an album already under her belt, she’s back with her second full-length offering,¬†Someone Out There, released through Atlantic Records.

Rae Morris - Someone Out There

The album opens with the simplistic yet melodic, ‘Push Me To My Limit’, which feels almost like the starting narration of a musical or a soundtrack, leading up to something epic.

There isn’t a completely running theme throughout the album but each track has a way of telling it’s own little story. Some of the most stand-out tracks on the record include; ‘Atletico (The Only One)’ for its unusual and bold use of choppy vocal hooks and melodies – it’s a really stunning song, ‘Do It’ has a very atmospheric, electro-indie vibe that’s truly catchy, ‘Wait For The Rain’ has a beautiful vocal melody that I love more and more each time I hear it – it also builds up a quite dirty beat to become this massive banger and ‘Dip My Toe’ which is one of the most pop tracks on the album but it has a certain Grimes quality to it. You can’t help but love the vocal hook in the chorus and sing along to it.

It’s not a generic pop record by any means and that’s something to admire –¬†her bravery and conviction to shape her own sound and stand out from the crowd is truly refreshing.

Throughout the album, there are strong similarities with Bj√∂rk(on the track ‘Rose Garden’), Imogen Heap (on¬†‘Lower The Tone’) and M√ė(on¬†‘Reborn’) – there’s a ton of quirkiness in Rae’s vocals (she’s certainly not afraid to utilise her voice in weird and wonderful ways!) and a real boldness in the instrumentation, provided by collaborator Fryars – the clever use of subtle sounds that somehow stand out, make a real impression. There is plenty of space for the vocals to shine through in the production and vice versa.

One thing is for certain; whilst this is a major label pop artist’s release, it has a uniqueness about it and there’s a real essence that she was given license to create something that suited her style and make the record she wanted to make. It’s not a generic pop record by any means and that’s something to admire – it’d be so easy for her to pump out something to fit the mould of current trends but her bravery and conviction to shape her own sound and stand out from the crowd is truly refreshing. This is a pretty awesome album, that with each listen I’ve become more and more fond of – I think it has a lot to offer and it certainly shows that Rae Morris knows exactly the sort of artist she wants to be.

Rating


‘Someone Out There’¬†is out now¬†and can be downloaded from iTunes –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/someone-out-there/1299762265


Someone Out There on Spotify

Reborn (Official Video)

Do It (Official Video)

Atletico (The Only One) (Official Video)


We hope you enjoyed our review of Rae’s second studio album. What do you have to say about it? Would you rate it the same as us? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or share your feelings with us via our socials.


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