#Review: The Rocket Summer – Sweet Shivers 🐝

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The Rocket Summer is the solo project from singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Bryce Avary. Since self-releasing his first EP in 2000, at the age of 17, Avary has gone on to release a total of 7 EPs, 7 full-length albums and a live album too! Now, 2019 sees the release of his seventh studio album, Sweet Shivers. Here’s our thoughts on it…

The Rocket Summer - Sweet Shivers.jpg

From the offset, it’s clear that Sweet Shivers is a much more experimental album than his previous efforts, thought it’s still distinctly The Rocket Summer.

We’re instantly thrown in at the deep end with opening track, ‘Morning Light’, a much darker introductory track than some of his previous efforts – there’s a twinge of a more mainstream Nine Inch Nails vibe to it!

We’re then led nicely into ‘Shatter Us’– whilst I’m not keen on the trumpet-like synth effect, the vocal melodies in the chorus and the plonky piano are incredible, especially paired with the very personal lyrics.

‘Blankets’ is possibly one of my favourite tracks on the album – the full-on verses are juxtaposed by the beautifully whispered chorus, making it powerful and captivating. Melodically it is a stunning track and has something a bit Biffy Clyro about it.

We’re then treated to ‘Gardens’ – like an experimental pop track where Avary has clearly played around with production – Jamiroquai inspirations seem to come through in places. ‘Peace Signs’ has a lovely yet simple, descending guitar melody that loops throughout and a strong vocal melody to the chorus. And in the spirit of looping, ‘5 4 3 2 1 Z’ has a looping piano melody, combined with brass sounds and an understated vocal melody. Maybe the most commercial-sounding track on the record, though it completely changes pace two-thirds of the way through before coming back to the original chorus.

‘Wannalife’ then seems to act as an interlude between the first and second half of the record. A nice little acoustic number about his life’s desires.

Overall though, this is a well-written, if slightly more experimental album, that could divide the fans.

As a long-time lover of The Rocket Summer, it pains me to say that ‘Sweet Shivers’ is very much an album of two halves – the first half being a lot stronger than the second. The second half has a lot of melodies that kind of blend into one.

Additionally, throughout the record, there are some rather quirky synth sound choices that I’m not convinced work, at times sounding a little cheap and underwhelming.

‘Slomo’ and ‘Keep Going’ are both pretty forgettable, while ‘Together In TX’ has an edgy breakdown, which stopped me from skipping the track. ‘Apartment 413’ has a dark melody and this is lyrically reflected in the tone too.

It’s the final two tracks that are saving graces for the latter part of the record. ‘World’s Greatest’ has some great deep vocal melodies and heavy bass synths with an amazing breakdown that continually builds back up to the end of the track. Whilst ‘m & m’ is possibly the strongest track in the second half, bringing the album to a strong close – there are intense vocal melodies and a fast-paced drum beat, plus funky guitar riffs and a Busted-esque synth at the end. A great track to end on!

Overall though, this is a well-written, if slightly more experimental album, that could divide the fans. That said, there are plenty of moments to enjoy, so fans will still find parts they love. I’m certainly still a lover of The Rocket Summer and appreciate his artistic license to be experimental, but I hope his next record might return a little more to his roots.

Rating


‘Sweet Shivers’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/sweet-shivers/1473282206


Sweet Shivers on Spotify

Morning Light [Official Music Video]

Shatter Us (Official Music Video)

Blankets (Official Music Video)

Peace Signs (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of The Rocket Summer’s latest album? Do you share the same opinions 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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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#EventSpeaks: Kate Nash @ Concorde 2, Brighton – 31/07/19

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On Wednesday 31st July 2019, Kate Nash returned to Brighton to put on another outstanding show, following the release of her 2018 album, Yesterday Was Forever and was supported by the punk quintet, The Menstrual Cramps.


The Menstrual Cramps

The band took to the stage, instantly packing a punch with their all-female brand of punk – think traditional punk rock but with some kick-ass girls showing who’s boss! The lead singer, Emilia Elfrida, was consistently hilarious with her crowd banter between songs and even shared some more personal insights, such as sexual assault she experienced and a song she wrote about it. As per traditional punk, there’s a lot of political messages behind their songs but one I loved in particular was a song, ‘Neo-Nazi’, written specifically for the crowds of an upcoming festival they’re playing at, to get back at them for the death threats and general unpleasantness they received the last time they played there!

Highlight: The energy of the band’s set (in particular the wit of Emilia) and the no-holds-barred approach to their lyricism and addressing of political and social issues! Well worth a watch.


Kate Nash

Right from the offset, there was something instantly better and more high energy about this set than the last time Kate Nash performed in Brighton. That’s not to say she wasn’t great back in 2017, but this time, there seemed to be a real buzz of excitement and a new lease of life to her set, which just instantly created an electric atmosphere throughout the crowd.

Following the release of her 2018 album, Yesterday Was Forever, the audience were treated to a whole host of new and old material in all the right doses. On several occasions, Kate shared the gratitude for her fans’ continued support throughout what has recently been shared (in her rather personal documentary – Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl – via BBC3) as quite a tumultuous period in her life. She also addressed her own personal struggles with mental health and how she believes that everyone should take time to talk about their own mental well-being, before performing, ‘Musical Theatre’ – a wonderfully personal account of her inner-most thoughts.

Naturally, in amongst her newer songs, the performance was interwoven with traditional hits such as ‘Mouthwash’, ‘Pumpkin Soup’, ‘Dickhead’ and ‘Foundations’. There was even a little medley thrown in for good measure, followed by an insanely fast version of ‘Mariella’ and just had the audience going crazy! The speed she performed it at was actually very impressive to behold!

Even though she is already a professional performer, this particular set/tour demonstrated just how much she’s grown as an artist and songwriter but also how much she has honed her live shows. I strongly recommend catching her at your earliest opportunity – you don’t even need to know all her songs, she’s just instantly bewitching!

Highlights:

  • Kate’s energy level was consistently high and her interaction with both the audience and her incredible band, made for a great watch all round. She always makes sure that her band are as much in the forefront as she is.
  • Kate’s vocal performance was stunning; from her beautifully powerful high notes to the delivery of her quirky, trademark, too-many-words-for-one-line lyricism, she was on point throughout.
  • I particularly loved watching her personal performance of ‘Musical Theatre’ – it’s not only got a strong message but her delivery of the song’s lyrics was sensational.
  • Her sense of style was as to be expected – interesting and out there, but oh so perfect.
  • At the end of the set (before the encore), Kate even got off the stage and into the front of the crowd to sing amongst her fans, which made them go wild.

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📷All of the photos of The Menstrual Cramps and Kate Nash are credited to Michael Hundertmark 📸
Why not give him a follow on Instagram and Twitter or check out his website.


 Setlist

Play
Life In Pink
Mouthwash*
Sister
Trash
Always Shining
Musical Theatre
Agenda
We Get On
Kiss That Grrl / Shit Song / Later On
Mariella
My Little Alien
Pumpkin Soup
Foundations*

Encore
Dickhead
Underestimate The Girl

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


Finally, I want to say a great big thanks to Patrick from Lout Promotions for sorting out this review, to Michael Hundertmark for his snaps and lastly, to Kate Nash, her band and The Menstrual Cramps for their amazing performances!


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

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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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: Siamese – Super Human 🦸‍♂️

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Siamese are a 4-piece metal-pop band from Denmark (read our interview with Mirza here) who made serious waves on the scene with their 2018 album, Shameless. Since touring with that album, the band have once again, been busy in the studio and now return with their latest record, Super Human, alongside a mini UK tour too. Here are our thoughts on the album.

Siamese - Super Human

At times, Siamese have found it difficult to be taken seriously within the genre and it’s easy enough to see why – they are not just a straightforward metal band, and Super Human is no exception. They merge Metal with genres like Pop, R&B and Dance and for die-hard fans of metal, this just doesn’t cut it. However, the band have stuck to their guns with their unique take on the genre and that shows conviction for what they believe in…and it’s a good thing!

From the opening track and lead single, ‘B.A.N.A.N.A.S’, with its reference to Gwen Stefani‘s, ‘Hollaback Girl’, on top of an intense metal instrumental – the pace for the record is set.

Other tracks that really stand out, include ‘Ocean Bed’ – an intensely emotive song with a grungy, heavy metal breakdown; the incredibly unique ‘Super Human’ – an urban-tinted affair with powerful lyrics about inner strength and guest vocals from Olivio Antonio and ‘Unified’ – a very personal track on which Mirza opens up about his background as a refugee.

Super Human is a good album and certainly isn’t lacking in musical diversity throughout. Siamese have managed to successfully amalgamate different genres to create a really cohesive body of work.

There are other moments to enjoy throughout the album though; ‘Animals’ begins with a church-like organ and builds like a Dance track would before launching into chugging metal; ‘You’re Not Alone’ is an uplifting song not only lyrically but reflected in the instrumental too, plus there are great vocal harmonies at the end (even if they are heavily autotuned) and ‘Give Me Up’ has Asian-tinted drums to open and a monasterial gang-vocal breakdown at the end – it’s very confessional in tone.

The only track which feels slightly out of place is ‘Party Monster’. It makes almost tongue-in-cheek jibes at vacuous pop songs however it feels like it might be trying to be serious too – it just doesn’t quite land.

The album is brought to a close by ‘Not Coming Home’ – 90s/00s-style Prodigy-esque Dance opening and drum beat that ends in chaos, leaving the listener wanting more.

Super Human is a good album and certainly isn’t lacking in musical diversity throughout. Siamese have managed to successfully amalgamate different genres to create a really cohesive body of work, mostly self-produced, allowing them freedom to create what they want. However, there are moments when the integrity behind the lyrics is not always sincerely delivered, focusing more on the style than the substance. Plus, one or two of the songs sound fairly similar – overall though, it’s a pretty solid record. The artwork is unusually well-matched to the album too, with several of the songs having an underlying religious or spiritual undertone to them, even if, in parts, it’s just in the musical composition rather than the lyrical content.

This album is surely going to further cement the band’s place within the genre though and demonstrates that they are seriously players on the scene. Personally, the genre-bending brings something interesting to the table, meaning they stand out from the rest, and it’s intriguing to see where they take their style next!

Rating


‘Super Human’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/super-human/1455133470


Super Human on Spotify

B.A.N.A.N.A.S (Official Video)

Super Human featuring Olivio (Official Video)

Animals (Official Video)

Ocean Bed (Official Lyric Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this band’s latest album? Is Super Human going to be your soundtrack to 2019? 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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#WildCardWednesday: Siamese – ‘B.A.N.A.N.A.S’

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Siamese are an award-winning, Danish, Pop-Metal band and following their previous album, Shameless, gained more than 8 million streams, catapulting them to recognition outside of Denmark, and enabling them to play sold out shows in Japan, UK and Germany.

Singer, Mirza Radonjica-Bang, said, “B.A.N.A.N.A.S, the album opener was actually written for the Shameless album. At least the starting riff was. But ultimately we were never satisfied with anything but the riff. We left it alone for two years before absolutely nailing it. One of my favourite tracks on the album for sure.”

This track showcases just how epic this band are – huge synth use, grungy guitars and metal drum patterns, all topped off with the wonderful sample of Gwen Stefani‘s ‘Hollaback Girl’ make this truly stand out! It’s a real genre-bending song that will appeal to people of all tastes from pop to metal.

Their next release, Super Human (out Friday 24th May), continues to showcase their trademark big choruses and well-written instrumental compositions; what’s more, it’s all self-produced!

Watch out for this band as they continue to go from strength to strength!

What are your thoughts of this singer-songwriter? Got a #WildCard Wednesday 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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‘B.A.N.A.N.A.S’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/ru/album/b-a-n-a-n-a-s/1455133470?i=1455133474&l=en


#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:

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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