#Review: Mallory Knox – Mallory Knox

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Mallory Knox are an alternative rock band from Cambridge and began as a five-piece back in 2009. Following the release of their third album, Wired, news came that lead vocalist, Mikey Chapman, was leaving the band in 2018. With co-lead vocalist, Sam Douglas, taking up the post of lead vocals, alongside the other three original band members; James Gillett (rhythm guitar & backing vocals), Joe Savins (lead guitar & backing vocals) and Dave Rawling (drums), the band are back with their self-titled fourth album (Mallory Knox) as a four-piece. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Mallory Knox - Mallory Knox.jpg

It was a brave choice for Sam Douglas to step into the position of lead vocals, as vocally he is quite different to Mikey Chapman, but he’s certainly come in all guns blazing on lead track, ‘Psycho Killer’ – a massive, garage rock sounding track with a hint of Foo Fighters about the vocals throughout, before careening into a heavy guitar breakdown at the end.

This is certainly a more raw and gritty album than some of their previous releases, with tracks like ‘The World I Know’ taking sonic influences from noughties punk rock and adding in grungy elements and ‘Wherever’ with its muscle guitars and intense drums, giving the illusion of travelling at speed.

Lead single, ‘White Lies‘, has a bit more of an indie feel to it than a lot of the rest of the record and is clear to see why it was chosen to launch the album.

Also, ‘4’ is quite commercial with its “Na, na, nas” and lyrics about vacuous pop market and record labels, such as, “You never mattered anyway.” Is it addressing negativity they have faced and the fact they band went from 5 members to 4, as the track title might suggest? Not sure. You’ll have to make up your own mind on that.

Possibly some the best tracks on the album are: ‘Livewire’ which has changes in pace throughout and echoing breakdowns to really get the listener going; ‘Freaks’ has some really interesting melodies with guitar frills, captivating (and sometimes aggressive) vocal acrobatics (with some serious power behind them) and a great all-round tone to it and ‘Black Holes’ with its chugging guitars and yet more, distinctly Foo Fighters vibes in the intense, shouty chorus.

It’s a risk to continue as a four-piece, with someone new taking up the role of lead vocalist, but it appears to have paid off.

By far, the best track on the album is ‘Gut’ – it’s an intense, fast-paced close to the album, with some insane vocal harmonies, brilliant drums and fast guitars – it’s a generally chaotic moment of ecstatic mosh-out madness that fans are sure to love live.

There are definitely moments when you can tell Douglas doesn’t quite have the power behind his voice that he might have liked and even one track (‘Heartbreak Lover’) that feels like his vocal is lacking in energy – albeit it’s a very commercial-sounding track with a guitar line that plays around the same melody as the chorus.

Additionally, there are the odd places here and there that lyrically feel a bit flat and not quite written with as much depth or maturity as perhaps you might like (‘Fine Lines’ with its candid take on a relationship breakdown) and other tracks, such as ‘Radio’ that are a little forgettable but overall, it’s a solid effort from the now quartet.

It’s been a risk to continue as a four-piece, with someone new taking up the role of lead vocalist, but it appears to have paid off. The album is consistently confident in its approach and hopefully with have old fans excited and on board for the ride as well as pick up new fans with their edgier sound.

Rating


‘Mallory Knox’ is out 16/08/19 and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/mallory-knox/1461295820


Mallory Knox on Spotify

White Lies (Official Music Video)

Livewire (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s fourth album? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#WildCardWednesday: Misha B – ‘Letter To My Sistars’

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Misha B is finally back with her latest single, ‘Letter To My Sistars’, and I couldn’t be happier to see her return!

The latest song from the ex-X Factor artist has a definitive, old-school R&B / Hip Hop vibe with an understated beatbox intro, vinyl-tinted beats and clean guitar melodies throughout, topped off with some wonderfully raw and effortless vocal harmonies.

‘Letter To My Sistars’ is a strong departure from her post-X Factor days yet still remains polished and true to herself. It’s a female empowerment track about looking out for each other (Don’t mess – “If you put a finger on my sister, guaranteed your head pop, pop, pop just like blister”); an urban anthem at its best.

The video for the track is fun too – seeing Misha B performing alongside strong female characters in and around the urban environment but also has narrative segments depicting Misha as a child, with one of her “sistars”, as referenced in the track. Go check it out, below.

I’m super excited for this return and hope that maybe this will signal an upcoming debut album?! We can only hope!

What are your thoughts of Misha B’s latest release? Are you as pleased to see her back, as we are? Do you have a #WildCardWednesday 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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‘Letter To My Sistars’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/letter-to-my-sistars-single/1467045615


#TunefulTuesday: Will Joseph Cook – ‘Hey Brother’

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It’s been a couple of years now since Will Joseph Cook released his debut album, Sweet Dreamer, but the catchy indie-pop, anthem-writer is back with a brand new single… and it would appear he’s parted ways with Atlantic Records.

His latest offering, ‘Hey Brother’, comes following a witty video announcement hinting not only of this single release, but a forthcoming album too!

‘Hey Brother’ is still distinctly Will Joseph Cook – his ethereal high vocals in the choruses are married with his more apathetic tones in the verses. One thing’s for sure, his voice remains unique and captivating, as ever.

This track also demonstrates his marvellous songwriting talent, as he uses a simplistic yet catchy guitar melody and loops it, bringing it in and out of the focus, whilst also continually layering up the track to bring it to a great, harmony-driven climax.

This layering is reflected in the music video for the track too, which sees multiple versions of the singer appearing throughout. He’s not one to settle for something visually drab and so this too shows that he’s remaining true to his artistic nature, once again showing how powerful it can be when coupling music and interesting visuals. Check it out below!

What are your thoughts of this indie singer-songwriter’s latest single? Do you have your own #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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‘Hey Brother’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/hey-brother-single/1469264663


#Review: Avril Lavigne – Head Above Water 🌊

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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 “first music video to reach 100 million views on YouTube”) 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, “One 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, ‘God, please help to keep my head above the water.’ 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.” 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’s a renewed power and technique behind it and she’s using it in ways she hasn’t 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.


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

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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;“Every night I’m at your window, Wonder when you’re gonna let me in.”A 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.


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

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Two4Tunesday: Jason Derulo – ‘Colors’ & Janelle Monáe – ‘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 Monáe – ‘PYNK’ featuring Grimes

Janelle Monáe 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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