#Review: Tom Walker – What A Time To Be Alive

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Tom Walker is a Scottish-born, singer-songwriter that has continued to grow and rise to fame over the past 12 months or so. Aside from relentless touring, he started gathering mainstream attention with the BBC putting him in the running for their Sound of 2018 accolade. Then came the release of his massive single, ‘Leave A Light On’, which received heavy radio airplay, leading to a performance on X Factor. Now 2019 has kicked off with in style, with him winning the Brit Award for 2019’s British Breakthrough Act…and all of this has happened before the release of his debut album! Well, it’s finally here, What A Time To Be Alive and here’s what we have to say about it…

Tom Walker - What A Time To Be Alive.jpg

Passion. Power. Personal. Three words that can’t help but swim through my mind as I listen to Tom Walker‘s debut album, What A Time To Be Alive. All three qualities are beautifully and intricately interwoven too – there is passion and power behind his vocals – both in what he sings and the way he sings it – and the personal songwriting leads to their prominence…and this wouldn’t be such a remarkable record without even one of those elements.

We’re catapulted into the album with ‘Angels’; a track starting out raw and edgy but endlessly continuing to build to a huge crescendo, complete with bells and strings, becoming an intricately layered behemoth of a track by the end, topped off with Tom’s intensely passionate and gritty vocals.

This is soon followed by the hit single, ‘Leave A Light On’, which despite being such a massive single, is interestingly, probably one of my least favourite tracks on the album. It’s a great song lyrically and thematically and I can see exactly why it was such a hit but I honestly preferred the original version, before the off-key synth sounds became so prominent. Also, there’s so much more to love about the album!

He has successfully crafted an outstanding debut album that takes elements from many different genres and styles, mashing them up into the perfect concoction of contemporary pop.

The biggest tracks on the record have to be: ‘Not Giving In’ – haunting wind chimes trickle delicately into the intense track, where echoing vocals and programmed drums lead the verses into the passionate chorus that seems to swirl around you, engulfing with its honest emotion; ‘How Can You Sleep At Night?’ is vocally one of the most diverse songs on the album – quiet, low tones in the verses are pushed by thunderous drums to a chorus of what could be described as vocal hoots and a downward zigzagging of his voice. Melodically, it’s a rather playful track, even though it’s about an intimate subject.

‘My Way’ is a real genre-bender; hip-hop-style drum beats, oriental-tinted synths, a repetitive hook and wonderful production trills, such as subtle, underlying female vocals, make this one of the best songs on the record. An effortless breakdown calms the mood right before bursting back into the repetitive, yet highly addictive chorus. Think EDM elements meet rock with a slightly Asian-flavoured edge.

And of course there’s ‘Fade Away’ which has a very Tom Odell-sounding melody, in places. It’s an emotionally devastating, piano and string-led track, that honestly brings tears to the eyes. Naturally, in its more heightened moments, Tom’s signature, raspy vocals shine through but during the quieter parts, his interesting annunciation and poetic lyricism make this track truly bewitching.

This is a stunning, diverse album that is sure to make massive waves throughout the industry and I’m certain will be a benchmark album for years to come.

‘Now You’re Gone’ featuring Zara Larsson is very electronic in tone with laser-like bass notes and a broken-up rhythm, ‘Blessings’ has an Ed Sheeran vibe and takes a candid look at the modern lifestyle, whilst ‘Dominoes’ is a very political track and another honest take on the state of the world right now, becoming wonderfully chaotic and grungy by the end.

Intrigue doesn’t stop there either, ‘Cry Out’ is like a dark western soundtrack (somewhat reminding me of the Peaky Blinders theme) with chain-clinking sounds giving it a laborious edge and ‘Just You And I’ is an old fan favourite – a big, positive love song. Possibly the most captivating track on the record has to be ‘The Show’ – a story-like track about London that really gives the sense of physically moving through the city streets, just listening to it. It has a real jazzy feel which sound effects weaving throughout the storytelling.

One thing’s for certain, Tom Walker has a very unique blend of styles throughout his music; reggae and urban vibes, with subtle hip-hop undertones are met by electronic synth elements and drum pads, combined with real instruments and rock-tinted vocals all underpinned by sincere, heartfelt (and even occasionally political) lyrical themes. I think I can even detect Bob Marley influences in places – reggae sounds and political themes…or is that just me? Sure, at times his voice is quirky and high-pitched but that is met in equal measure by the grittier, growlier and more powerful moments.

You can’t help but want to compartmentalise him as a singer-songwriter or a pop star but he truly breaks every mould you try to apply him to. He has successfully crafted an outstanding debut album that takes elements from many different genres and styles, mashing them up into the perfect concoction of contemporary pop. Despite being an eclectic collection, it still manages to be entirely cohesive. This is a stunning, diverse album that is sure to make massive waves throughout the industry and I’m certain will be a benchmark album for years to come.

It can only get bigger for him from here and I can’t wait to see what new heights Tom Walker soars to next…I’m just pleased I got to see him at The Green Door Store in Brighton (review here) before it all took off.

Rating
5


‘What A Time To Be Alive’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/what-a-time-to-be-alive/1435094194


What A Time To Be Alive on Spotify

Leave A Light On (Official Video)

Just You and I (Official Video)

Angels (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Tom Walker’s stunning debut, What A Time To Be Alive? 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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#FeelGoodFriday: P!nk – ‘Walk Me Home’

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P!nk is a truly inspirational artist and is always true to herself, which is why she has just become the very worthy winner (and first ever international artist) of this year’s Outstanding Contribution to Music Award at the Brit Awards 2019.

With 7 albums already under her belt and an upcoming UK tour in support of her last album, Beautiful Trauma (2017), it seems a fitting time for her to put out a new song.

‘Walk Me Home’ is the lead single taken from her upcoming eighth album, Hurts 2B Human. It’s a strong, acoustic-led track with a really cutting vocoder vocal that reverberates right through you. It was even penned with previous duetting partner, Nate Ruess as well as Grammy Award-winner, Scott Friedman, so it’s bound to be a big hit!

Although the track is somewhat somber in tone through the verses, it kicks in to a powerful, all-consuming chorus that just elevates. It’s uplifting and puts out big positive vibes – perfect for a #FeelGoodFriday!

No video has been put out yet but when one does, I’m sure it’ll be epic!

Photo Credit 📸 – Sølve Sundsbø

What are your thoughts of this incredible artist’s latest single, Walk Me Home? 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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‘Walk Me Home’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/walk-me-home-single/1453199363


#ThrowbackThursday: Lily Allen – ‘The Fear’

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‘The Fear’ was the lead single taken from Lily Allen‘s second studio album, ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’. It’s incredible to believe but this track was actually UK Number 1 back in 2009…10 years ago! In fact, it stayed at the top of the UK Singles Chart for four consecutive weeks resulting in it being the longest running Number 1 song, in the UK, for 2009.

Despite the glistening, electropop elements to the song that see a barrage of synths weave their way throughout the track, its lyrics are deep, highlighting and poking fun at the problems with consumerism, celebrity lifestyles (and certain well-known tabloids’ obsessions with them) and the postmodern condition of the world.

The song was co-written and produced by monster-hit creator, Greg Kurstin, and saw the starlet adopting a new, ethereal and more mature sound.

The music video is pretty great too, with Lily Allen emerging from a caravan, before returning to reveal the interior of a massive mansion where she is joined by a large group of dancers, eventually performing amongst some giant, brightly-coloured, dancing presents. It’s very dream-like and actually perfectly reflects the tone and topic of the track itself.

It’s an all-round incredible track and easy to see why it reached the Number 1 spot…I just can’t believe it’s already a decade old!

What are your thoughts of this throwback jam by the incredible Lily Allen? 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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‘The Fear’ can be downloaded on iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-fear/731919848?i=731919950


#TunefulTuesday: Lauv & Troye Sivan – ‘i’m so tired…’

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There’s something instantly gripping about Lauv and Troye Sivan‘s recent collaboration, ‘i’m so tired…’, meaning I just can’t get this song out of my head!

Maybe it’s the repetitiveness of the chorus, the brilliantly-used vocal distortion and electronic harmonies, used periodically throughout, or perhaps it’s the combination of a light guitar tied with the electro drum beat and sharp finger clicks that have created something wonderfully unique, resulting in the song living on repeat for me.

One thing’s for certain – this track is already one of my favourite songs of 2019 and the year has barely begun! I’d love to hear a collaboration album from the pair!

The video for the song is pretty cool too – I love how it’s stylised to be like an old 70s/80s camcorder capturing home video-style footage, such as Troye Sivan riding on top of a car, through the neighbourhood. Equally, the lyrics are brilliantly reflected, with Lauv performing amongst various couples, as though he’s not there; a great little storyboarding idea!

What are your thoughts of this incredible collaboration between Lauv and Troye Sivan? 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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‘i’m so tired…’ can be downloaded from iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/im-so-tired/1448700180?i=1448700185


#Review: Against The Current – Past Lives 👁


   

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Against The Current are an American pop rock band from New York, who formed in 2011. The band is made up of Chrissy Costanza (lead vocals), Dan Gow (guitars) and Will Ferri (drums). The band are notable for regularly posting covers on YouTube as well as delighting fans with original tracks too. In 2016, after signing to Fueled By Ramen, the band released their debut album, In Our Bones. Now, 2018 sees the band releasing their second full-length record, Past Lives. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Against The Current - Past Lives.jpg

This stunningly diverse and charming record opens with the almost haunting ‘Strangers Again’, dealing with getting over a relationship and cutting ties. The guitar line is dreamy and the vocal breakdown towards the end is a rather quiet and personal moment that really draws you in. It’s a brilliant way to open a record; it doesn’t go in all guns blazing but instead captivates the audience with its beautiful soundscapes.

Next is probably the best track on record, ‘The Fuss’. With Daft Punk-esque, 80s synths, funky guitar rhythms and one hell of a catchy chorus, this is a track you will just want to play really loud and dance like mad to!

Other significant songs include: ‘I Like The Way’ – a track all about new love that almost reaches EDM territory with its strong piano line. It’s something you might expect from the likes of Sigala‘s Easy Love or Sweet Lovin’; ‘Voices’ is a slightly more grungy offering about being self-conflicted and trying to ignore the internal voices (which is reflected perfectly with whispering backing vocals) – it’s very Paramore meets Fickle Friends, whilst ‘Scream’ is a rather floaty and dreamy song – for some reason it evokes images of the perfect all-American family from the 1960s (no idea why!) It’s an uplifting yet subtle track; I keep finding myself going back for more.

‘Personal’ has a Taylor Swift-like quality to it and the production is incredible – the vocal harmonies sit beneath the rest of the production in the chorus, but it’s truly enchanting. ‘P.A.T.T.’ (short for Pretty All The Time) is an out and out female empowerment anthem – it’s fast-paced, punchy and relatively simplistic but the message is fun and powerful about girls feeling like they should be allowed to be themselves without having to look “pretty all the time”…calling all, “Girls!”

It’s an impeccably well-crafted record which has very successfully merged the boundaries between dance, pop and rock music, with a sprinkling of 80s vibes on top.

Lastly, ‘Friendly Reminder’ is another notable song, it’s certainly an album track rather than a potential single but the use of a phaser effect on the vocals and an epic clap-along chorus towards the end make it really stand out…again, there’s a big 80s vibe to it.

What Against The Current manage to do so well throughout, is take you on a journey with them; when they’re soaring high, you’ll feel all the sparks of excitement with them brought about with big synth sounds, intense beats and tons of reverb but equally when melancholy reigns, you’ll feel their heartache too.

Whilst I could say something about every track on the record, I won’t – you just need to experience it for yourself. I really can’t recommend this highly enough…the only reason it didn’t get a 5 is because there are one or two less stand-out, album-fillers but even those are pretty damn good. It is very much an album which marks a band that have found their feet; they’ve created something wonderfully catchy yet utterly credible with sincere lyricism, interesting melodies and top-notch production.

It’s an impeccably well-crafted record which has very successfully merged the boundaries between dance, pop and rock music, with a sprinkling of 80s vibes on top; it’s difficult to pigeonhole this band…in a good way! It’s a truly exciting time for the band; this will certainly make waves in the genre and undoubtedly pave an exciting path for their future!

Rating
4-5


‘Past Lives’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/past-lives/1425108766


Past Lives on Spotify

Almost Forgot (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this band’s sophomore release, Past Lives? 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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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#EventSpeaks: Brighton Pride 2018 @ Preston Park, Brighton – 04/08/18


   

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On Saturday 4th August 2018, Preston Park was brought to life with the UK’s largest, annual Pride Festival and this year was especially huge, with over 57,000 people partying the day away. This was, in part, due to the presence of the one and only Britney Spears, headlining the main stage. Also performing were Louise, MNEK, Mabel, Pixie Lott and Ella Eyre. The afternoon was utterly incredible and people had a truly unforgettable time…the best Brighton Pride yet!

Relive the whole thing with our Brighton Pride Weekender playlist.


Mabel

Mabel‘s performance was great – considering she’s not released an album yet, I still knew most of the songs she performed (through their online presence and radio airplay), such as ‘Fine Line’‘Ring Ring’‘My Lover’ and ‘Finders Keepers’ (which can be seen in the YouTube video below). However, even those I didn’t know were captivating to watch due to her excellent live vocals and high energy. A lot of her songs have clear R&B and reggae influences which means her debut album (that she is currently working on) should be really interesting!


Pixie Lott

It’s been a while since Pixie Lott‘s last album (the self-titled Pixie Lott in 2014) but she sure showed how sensational her voice and just how many massive hits she’s had with this fun-filled performance. Some of the stand-out performances included ‘Mama Do (Uh Oh, Uh Oh)’‘Boys And Girls’‘Turn It Up’ and ‘All About Tonight’ (which can be seen in the YouTube video below). I’m just gutted she didn’t perform her summery 2017 collaboration with Anton Powers‘Baby’. Regardless, her vocals were flawless and she looked like she was having the time of her life…let’s just hope it won’t be long until a new album emerges!


Ella Eyre

Considering she’s only had one album, Ella Eyre has had a lot of hits, not only through her own tracks but also through her incredible collaborations. The set was packed with notable performances and in fact I could mention them all for different reasons…she was just truly remarkable.

‘Good Times’ followed by ‘Together’ really got the crowd going; ‘LOV(E)’ had some great audience participation elements with a real Caribbean feel to it; her cover of Jermaine Stewart‘s ‘We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off’ was pure perfection and then her final tracks were all some of her most notable collaborations – ‘Waiting All Night’ (originally with Rudimental), ‘Answerphone’ (originally with Banx & Ranx) and it all came to a close with the monster hit ‘Came Here For Love’ (originally with Sigala). Her vibe is very dancehall meets drum & bass topped off with a touch of soul…it was the perfect summer sound to bop around to at this year’s Pride and get everyone warmed up for Britney!

Highlights:

  • Her vocals were flawless and crowd interaction was top notch.
  • The songs she performed were perfect – the audience pretty much knew them all and if they didn’t, she taught them to us.
  • Her use of audience participation was brilliant, particularly on ‘LOV(E)’.
  • The energy she pours into her performance is truly contagious and certainly got people moving!

Setlist

Good Times*
Together
LOV(E)
Ego
We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off (Jermaine Stewart Cover)*
Waiting All Night
Answer Phone
Came Here For Love*

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


Britney Spears

BRITNEY. WAS. AMAZING! Sure, she didn’t sing a word live, but when you look past that, her performance was out of this world!

It had everything you could want from a superstar of her calibre; it was fast-paced with high energy, superb choreography, several costume changes, interesting set pieces and video backdrops, a live band and it was packed to bursting point with hit after hit. Including some off her most recent album, Glory, which I was really pleased about!

Her set was further diversified with different versions or intros to some of her hits, such as ‘…Baby, One More Time’ and Toxic’.

With someone like Britney it’s very difficult to pick out favourite performances of tracks as it’s just one big, epic show that you can’t help but enjoy from start to finish but if I had to pick some; ‘Work Bitch’ was an incredible way to start the set and had the audience going wild, ‘Me Against The Music’ had some amazing set pieces just like the music video (cracked walls), ‘Slumber Party’ as the choreography was sexy and the song is just sensational and ‘Till The World Ends’ as the audience were loving every second of it and at the end, the confetti canon exploded with rainbow colours…it was magical!

It is a shame that Britney doesn’t really sing live but there are so many other ways she makes up for it and I still can’t believe she headlined Brighton Pride…it was certainly a performance you did not want to miss!

Highlights:

  • There really are so many highlights to choose from; the colours, the lights, the sounds, the movements; she is just a sensational performer that puts her every effort into what she does – she’s remarkable!
  • Oh and Britney getting someone out of the audience to chain up and be a part of the choreography for a song was hilarious!

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Setlist

Act I
BRITNEY (Introduction)
Work Bitch*
Womanizer*
Break The Ice/Piece Of Me*

Act II
Darkness (Interlude)
…Baby One More Time/Oops!… I Did It Again

Act III
If I’m Dancing (Interlude)
Me Against The Music*
Gimme More
Clumsy/Change Your Mind

Act IV
Scream & Shout (will.i.am Interlude)*
Boys
Do You Wanna Come Over?
Work It/Get Ur Freak On/WTF (Where They From) (Dance Interlude)

Act V
Get Naked (I Got A Plan) (Interlude)
I’m A Slave 4 U
Make Me…*
Freakshow
Do Somethin’

Act VI
Magic Circus (Interlude)
Circus
If U Seek Amy
Breathe On Me
Slumber Party*
Touch Of My Hand

Act VII
Jungle Fever (Interlude)
Toxic
Stronger/(You Drive Me) Crazy*

Encore
Till The World Ends*

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


Finally, I want to say a massive thanks to the Brighton Pride organisers for putting together such an incredible line-up for this year’s Pride…it was amazing! Now…how the hell are you gonna top Britney next year?!


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Two4Tunesday: James Arthur – ‘You Deserve Better’ & MNEK – ‘Colour’ featuring Hailee Steinfeld


   

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James Arthur – ‘You Deserve Better’

James Arthur has just returned with not one, but two, new songs in the form of a double A-side single, You Deserve Better/At My Weakest.

‘You Deserve Better’ is an acoustic-driven track at the start but then goes on to see the introduction of funky bass guitars, pounding drums and rhythmic claps. The almost understated repetition of the track’s title in the pre-chorus is catchy and seems to take a hold on the listener, before James Arthur bursts into his full, powerful vocals in the chorus. It’s a brilliantly written track!

Does this signify the coming of a third album for the artist?!

No official video has been released as yet, but the paper-themed lyric video (below) should keep you going for now.


‘You Deserve Better’ is on iTunes for downloading now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/you-deserve-better-at-my-weakest-single/1389804905



MNEK – ‘Colour’ featuring Hailee Steinfeld

To much delight from fans, MNEK recently announced that his debut album is finished and in the process of being mixed.

Earlier this year, he released the tantalising ‘Tongue’ and now he’s back with ‘Colour’ (presumably the second single from the upcoming album), which is a collaboration with singer and actress, Hailee Steinfeld.

The track comes just in time for Pride season and with the mention of rainbows 🌈 and MNEK himself being gay, we’re sure this is going to receive a lot of spins around the world, this summer.

The track is tropical house-flavoured with and almost reggae beat to it. The playful, loved-up lyrics are fun and catchy and the way the pair bounce off each other and harmonise is just perfect!

Again, no music video has been released for this track yet but the wonderfully colourful lyric video (below) should hopefully brighten up your day.


‘Colour’ can also be downloaded from iTunes now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/colour-feat-hailee-steinfeld/1386508884?i=1386509174


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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