#Review: Belmont – Reflections (EP)

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Chicago, IL outfit Belmont are about to drop a new EP of tracks they describe as “a collection of new ideas, experimentation and an opportunity to lay down anything we’ve ever wanted to musically”. This make for an interesting prospect for a band who are quite progressive in their approach.

Belmont - Reflections.jpg

I’ve been following the progress of Belmont for a while and really enjoyed their offerings so far. The progressive-punk 5-piece have an appeal for fellow musicians by demonstrating some great technicality in their music, however I always felt they lacked an attraction for a wider audience.

Reflections looks like it’s addressing this. Firstly, there is a good use of synth and samples like those used in the opener ‘By My Side’ and its follow up ‘Deadweight’. This really pulls the tracks towards those big chart hitters you hear when accidently cycling through the radio in the car. If it’s not your thing, it won’t put you off as Belmont incorporate it well into the tracks as it fits nicely with their signature, driving drum lines. ‘Deadweight’ also brings in some quieter sections for the verses which adds to the more radio-friendly appeal – for some reason it reminds me of the likes of Owl City.

The band hasn’t lost any of their progressive nature that they are known for. ‘Back and Forth’ highlights Belmont’s ability to throw you around rhythmically. The fast-changing guitar sections alongside drummer Brian Lada’s ever surprising and chaotic drum fills keep you interested in everything that going on but don’t over power any of the tracks on the EP. This really shows up in ‘Hideout’, which has a beautifully calming verse, but ‘Lada’ can still bring the grooving rhythm without spoiling it.

This EP is a great example of moving a band onto a bigger stage, without losing the essence of what got them there in the first place.

The pop punk vibe shines throughout the EP too. ‘Stay Up’ has that classic, fast-pace feel and gang vocals that are bound to get a crowd up, moving and screaming “Stay Up, Stay Up!”. It’s felt across the EP, with truly catchy chorus lines that really stick with you. It’s not just the catchiness that give it that punk feel, ‘Move Along’ shows Belmont’s pop punk influences further with an awesome verse riff that throw you back to early days of blink-182 and New Found Glory.

Overall, Reflections feels like it’s bridging a gap for Belmont, in connecting with more fans, although I don’t think this was their intention. As they head out on some bigger tours, alongside big hitters like Tiny Moving Parts, this will only put them in great stead to grown their fan base… and deservedly so. This EP is a great example of moving a band onto a bigger stage, without losing the essence of what got them there in the first place.

For fans of: Tiny Moving Parts, Knuckle Puck, Neck Deep.

Rating
4


‘Reflections’ is out 13/03/20 on Pure Noise Records and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/by-my-side/1498675814?i=1498675818


Reflections on Spotify

Coming 13/03/20.

Deadweight (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s latest EP? 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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Rob Manhire
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#FeelGoodFriday: KOOLKID – ‘Feelings’

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Scottish singer-songwriter, KOOLKID, has just released his captivating new single, ‘Feelings’, written by KOOLKID himself, alongside Lewis Gardiner (ex-drummer of Scottish band, Prides).

The single is a soaring, modern pop ballad which flaunts KOOLKID’s emotion-drenched vocals with engrossing, forward-thinking production.

“Falling in love with someone who is already in a relationship is never a good thing. ‘Feelings’ is an upbeat pop anthem that is sure to make you reminisce being in this situation,” says KOOLKID. “You know you have certain feelings, but you only want to feel them with that one person, but you can’t. I feel like we can all relate to being in this situation at one point in our lives. I have and that is why I wrote this song.”

The singer hails from Glasgow in Scotland, where he was surrounded by live music from a young age. Since the age of 15, he has been building his musical identity with constant songwriting efforts, as well as cutting his teeth with live performances up and down the UK.

An accomplished songwriter, KOOLKID has penned tracks for some prominent pop acts, including K-Pop icons BTS. The Scotsman co-wrote ‘Mikrokosmos’ from the group’s chart-topping EP, Map of the Soul: Persona. The relationship between KOOLKID and BTS looks set to continue with future releases in the pipeline!

This latest single sees one of the UK’s most exciting, up-and-coming young artists continue to leave his mark in the contemporary music market.

What are your thoughts of this singer-songwriter? Got 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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‘Feelings’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/feelings-single/1493801876


#ThrowbackThursday: Gabrielle – ‘Rise’

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Soulful singer and songwriter, Gabrielle, relesed her single, ‘Rise’ in January 2000. The song (written by Gabrielle, Ollie Dagois and Ferdy Unger-Hamilton and produced by Jonny Dollar), was the second single to be taken from her third, studio album of the same title, Rise.

The track became notable for the rare, authorised use of a Bob Dylan sample (taken from his 1973-song ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’. Apparently, Dylan liked ‘Rise’ so much, that he allowed Gabrielle to use the sample for free, while receiving a co-writer credit for providing the song’s chord progression and vocal sample.

The song reached number one on the UK Singles Chart and stayed there for two weeks, acroos January and February 2000, becoming her second chart-topper.

This is such a soulful song that for the era of mainstream pop, it actually stood out quite significantly for her different vibe, making her stand out as an artist in that era. Subsequently, this track has a rather timeless feel to it.

The music video (Directed by Kevin Godley) sees the singer singing whilst spectating at a boxing match – a nice visual metaphor to accompany the song.

What are your thoughts of this soulful singer’s 2000 hit? Are you still a fan 20 years on? Do you have a #ThrowbackThursday 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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‘Rise’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/rise/1440911935?i=1440911940


#FeelGoodFriday: Midnight Skies – ‘Falling Apart’

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When Matt emailed me to say we had some Pop-Punk to review, I was on it like skaters on a freshly waxed library fire escape. Anyone who knows me, knows I love Pop-Punk and I’ve ruined a fair few Spotify algorithms whilst DJing in the passenger seat, to prove the point (sorry Allen!). Here’s what we had to make of ‘Falling Apart’ from Pop-Punkers Midnight Skies

‘Falling Apart’ is the third single from Seattle’s Midnight Skies. The trio only formed in the summer of 2018 but have been steadily releasing content and building a decent following in that time. As always, the Pop-Punk scene is awash with bands claiming “energetic live shows”, “fun-loving” and “always up for a party” but at the end of the day, good tracks in this genre need three things and this review is broken down across such things:

Thing #1It needs to be “short and sweet” – and unfortunately ‘Falling Apart’ is a full 4 minutes long. Now it would be wrong to judge purely on the length of a song but it doesn’t feel like the track uses the time well. This single could have easily ended prior to its middle 8 and no one would have noticed, but the change of pace here is welcome and worth the wait. The song then classically falls back into its chorus, as it should, but rather than ending here, there is a 30-second outro that dampens the energy of the song by drawing it out for too long. It feels like the band are trying to crowbar in all the features we enjoy in a good Pop-Punk song, some of which really work, others not so much.

Thing #2It’s gotta be catchy! All great Pop-Punk anthems have great hooks and this is no exception. The chorus has a great melodic and lyrical hook which I haven’t stopped humming around the house since my first listen. Its initial repetitiveness, followed by the falling melody with the title lyrics bring memories back to classics from Hit The Lights and Forever The Sickest Kids, leaning slightly more towards the pop than punk element of the genre. This also comes through in the production of the track, which contains many effects across the track, especially on the vocals. Personally, I have never been a big fan of this, but I know some will love it!

Finally Thing #3Does it get the party started? Absolutely! It’s definitely a track that will at least get your head nodding, but stick it on at a party and I think it would get people dancing. Mostly this is down to the driving rhythm and the use of the double snare hits on the drums that give the track a lot of pace. This only relents within that middle 8 section which slows the pace down and adds some nice dynamics to the track.

Overall, this is a good track but it struggles to stand out in an already dominated field. However, if you saw these guys live and heard this track, you would remember it and hearing it again would send you back to a good night out. It feels like a blank canvas ready for you to attach your own good times and every time you put it on, I hope it would cast you back to a good night out with friends.

For Fans Of:
Forever The Sickest Kids, All Time Low, The Summer Set

3

What are your thoughts of this Pop-Punk band? Do you have a #FeelGoodFriday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via our social media.

Rob Manhire
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‘Falling Apart’ is out on We Are Triumphant and can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/falling-apart/1485448144?i=1485448820


#Review: MUNA @ Concorde 2, Brighton – 02/12/19

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On Monday 2nd December 2019, MUNA arrived in Brighton to perform the first date of their Saves The World Tour – their first ever headline UK tour. They band were supported by Fake Laugh. Here’s what we had to say about the incredible evening…


Fake Laugh

Armed with a fellow band member and a laptop of backing tracks, it’s incredible how Kamran Khan (aka Fake Laugh) creates such a full sound – as if he had an entire band with him. The set was filled with original tracks that could easily sit well in an American teen drama (think maybe The O.C.?!) due to his interesting brand of dreamy indie-pop. That said, he also pulled out a couple of excellent, more rocky guitar riffs that added another interesting depth to the set. Although he is somewhat awkward with his crowd interactions, that doesn’t stop him from getting the crowd moving.

Highlight: There was one particular song towards the end of the set, which I don’t believe is online, but the guitar riff and melody, paired with Kamran’s smooth vocal, was a tremendous thing to watch and dance to.


MUNA

Following a beautiful, instrumental intro, MUNA took to the stage and launched straight into ‘Number One Fan’ to rapturous applause from the crowd! They proceeded to play a string of songs, both old and new, from their debut (About U) and sophomore (Saves The World) albums.

Their Saves The World Tour marks the first headline, UK tour for the band and the Brighton show was their first date of the tour. To say the set was outstanding would be an understatement – the band really were jaw-droppingly brilliant, from their tight performance and engaging stage presence to Katie’s incredible, powerful vocals and they played to a room filled with nothing but love!

It doesn’t matter if you are a massive MUNA fan and know all the words to every one of their songs, or if you are new to them, because the vibes from both the band and the crowd are electric and every single person is able to feel welcome, accepted and a part of something special.

The relationship between the trio is genuine and packed with honest banter – at one point Katie made a small mistake and the others joked with her about it openly to the crowd but it was all taken in good fun and the audience found it hilarious too.

What possibly struck me most about seeing this band perform is the live interpretations of their tracks and just how genre-bending they really are! On some songs you can hear an almost country twinge to their style whilst on others they rock out, with one track even having a metal-style moment to it, which sent the crowd cheering. However at their core, this band are still a dark pop powerhouse with an 80s throwback feel to them.

Whether you’re a long-time MUNA fan or only just hearing about them, I cannot recommend highly enough, to try and catch them live – they will not disappoint and you will not stop moving throughout their entire set!

Highlights:

  • The stunning vocal performance from Katie (Gavin) throughout was breath-taking!
  • The chemistry between the trio (and their touring drummer and bassist) was electric – their actual performance was impeccable too!
  • The energy coming from the band was reflected throughout the crowd, filling the room with love, excitement and a truly euphoric energy.
  • The undertones of various genres being blended together, makes the band a real pleasure to watch – and as Naomi even said at one point, she “really believes [they] are the best f**king band in the world!”
  • It was a really nice touch that the band requested the venue make their toilets gender neutral for the event, to ensure everyone feels comfortable – a really caring touch for their very diverse fanbase.


 📸 All of the photos of MUNA are credited to Chloe Hashemi 📷
Go and give her a follow on Instagram and Twitter, and visit her website.


 Setlist

Number One Fan*
Stayaway
Crying On The Bathroom Floor
Around U
Never
Navy Blue
Everything
Winterbreak
Taken
Pink Light
Good News (Ya-Ya Song)
Hands Off
Loudspeaker*
I Know A Place*
It’s Gonna Be Okay, Baby

These songs can be viewed in the YouTube playlist, below.


Finally, I want to say massive thanks to xyz and also Chloe Hashemi for her incredible live photos of the show!


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

Muzik Speaks Live Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#FeelGoodFriday: Steve Aoki & Darren Criss – ‘Crash Into Me’

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Steve Aoki is known for being an incredible musician, DJ and producer, for having worked with countless incredible artists and for his unique brand of EDM music. Darren Criss is known for his acting and singing talents in Glee and for portraying Andrew Cunanan in the second series of American Crime Story. But, together they have created this incredibly catchy, upbeat and all-round feel-good version of Dave Matthews Band‘s classic track, ‘Crash Into Me’.

23 years after the original release of the song, the pair have created a rather unlikely cover that just works so well! They have beautifully blended real instruments (acoustic guitar) with some incredible dance elements, Darren Criss‘ smooth, pop vocals plus one hell of sick drop, to turn this ballad into an EDM powerhouse of a track that is just all-out, unapologetic fun.

It certainly isn’t an obvious choice of cover but the pair have made a song that I just can’t get enough of – put it on, turn it up and just enjoy every moment of it.

Check out the quirky, yet rather funny video (below) too – the animation is pretty hilarious!

What are your thoughts of this EDM cover of Dave Matthews Band’s classic track? Do you have a #FeelGoodFriday 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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‘Crash Into Me’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/crash-into-me-single/1472425666


#Review: Klingande – The Album

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Klingande started out as a production duo back in 2012, releasing a couple of notable tracks. However, following the departure of one half of the pair in 2014, Cédric Steinmyller chose to continue using the moniker, as a solo venture. Since then and with a string of singles and remixes under his belt, the French DJ and tropical house producer, is now releasing his debut album, The Album. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Klingande - The Album

Klingande‘s aptly-titled debut album, The Album, sees the producer putting out a double-disc record. The first of which is a body of work that sounds sonically polished and wonderfully well collected together, whilst the second disc is more a collection of the producer’s previous hits and well-known tracks.

The first disc is definitely an album that has been inspired by the likes of the late Avicii, blending real instruments with electronic elements. It would appear that there are other influences being played with too, with a real sense of the Deep South of America interwoven throughout – such as ‘Sinner’ (featuring Stevie Appleton) with country-style acoustic guitars in the verses and bluesy guitar riffs in the chorus. Or By The River’ that has slick guitars and features the raspy yet soulful vocals from Jamie N Commons. Even a harmonica finds its way onto the album (courtesy of French harmonica player, Greg Zlap) on the refreshing and rather frantic, surefire fan-favourite, ‘Ready For Love’ (also featuring vocals from UK singer-songwriter, Joe Killington).

The album opens with his latest single, ‘Amsterdam’ (the first of two collaborations with pop duo BRIGHT SPARKS) an acoustic-led, mellow dance track with a heavy underlying bass which sounds almost separate to the rest of the track, in a really interesting way. The second collaboration with BRIGHT SPARKS is previous single, ‘Messiah’ a subtle yet very catchy track, with some interesting fills, like a great dubstep-style wob-wob, leading into the final chorus.

‘Simple Man’ has some beautiful, distant gospel backing vocals, topped off with a deep lead vocal. This track is definitely a nod to his older sound, as it’s very saxophone led. Meanwhile, ‘Famous’ is quite different in tone to the rest of the album, particularly as it’s the first track on The Album to feature a female vocal.

The Album is a wonderful collection of songs that bring about an interesting new depth to dance music, making it stand out from a lot of other EDM.

Besides ‘Ready For Love’ (a personal favourite!), the final two tracks are possibly the best ones on the record. ‘Alive’ is a very positive track about things you won’t allow to get to you or defeat you and whilst the lyrics are not necessarily the deepest or most well-written, it’s catchy as hell and the message is great! Equally, closing track, ‘Only Breath’ (and the second to feature an unknown female vocal) is an airy and atmospheric song, with a synth rhythm that is pure euphoria – a wonderful track in spite of the inevitable dance drop.

The second half of The Album serves as more of a greatest hits, collating a bunch of Klingande‘s previous releases from the past few years – a time when he was more recognised for his prominent piano and saxophone use.

Whilst reviewing The Album, I chose to focus my attention mainly on the first half of the record, due to it being a more comprehensive collection of songs, however what the second half does do, is bring most of his previous releases together in one place and showcase just what growth this artist has been through, whilst the first half marks a new chapter in his career.

The Album is a wonderful collection of songs that bring about an interesting new depth to dance music, making it stand out from a lot of other EDM, but at its core, still uses tried, tested and much-loved dance sensibilities. This is a record that will be enjoyed by people of all ages and could quite easily be the perfect party companion. Given the growth demonstrated on this record, it’ll be interesting to see what direction Klingande goes in next!

Rating
4


‘The Album’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/the-album/1484567866


The Album on Spotify

Amsterdam featuring Bright Sparks (Official Lyric Video)

Messiah featuring Bright Sparks (Official Video)

By The River featuring Jamie N Commons (Official Video)

Jubel (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the producer’s debut album? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media and feel free to share our review.


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

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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