#Review: Doll Skin – Love Is Dead And We Killed Her

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerDoll Skin are an all-female rock band from Phoenix, Arizona, consisting of Meghan Herring (drums/co-lead vocals), Sydney Dolezal (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Nicole Rich (bass/backing vocals) and Alex Snowden (lead guitar/backing vocals). The band’s sound is a blend of punk, metal, alternative rock & pop. In April 2019, Doll Skin announced that they had signed to Hopeless Records, to release their third album, Love Is Dead And We Killed Her. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Doll Skin - Love Is Dead And We Killed Her.jpg

There will undoubtedly be people who will compare Doll Skin to the likes of The Donnas or other all-female punk bands but Love Is Dead And We Killed Her is possibly one of the most exciting rock records I’ve heard this year. It’s fresh, enthralling and unique.

From the anger-fuelled, scream anthem that is the opening track, ‘Don’t Cross My Path’ which sees the chanting of “This is a song for everyone I hate,” and “Throw your tantrum, meet my rage,” to the final notes of ‘Homesick’ – a track about returning home, to the people you have missed – this is a cyclical album with strong themes of karma, facing internal demons and broken relationships throughout.

There is plenty of metaphorical imagery intertwined too, such as the closing track casting thought-provoking scenes about finding peace, or single, ‘Mark My Words’, casting scenes about tattooing Sydney‘s words onto someone to tell of the hell she’s been through because of them.

It’s really hard not to write about every track for different reasons; from ‘No Fear’ with it’s captivating vocal melody and impeccably strong delivery or title track, ‘Love Is Dead And We Killed Her’, a payback track about karma catching up with their ex lover, through to ‘When They Show Their Teeth’ and its frantic drum intro with good old punk rock ‘na, na, nas’ (very much the kind of track you’d hear playing over the footage of a car chase scene with shaky camera shots, high-octane, skilled manoeuvres and even a crowd-pleasing, clap-along breakdown at the end too; there’s really a bit of something for every punk or rock music lover here.

There’s something exciting about the delivery throughout the record and a real sense of diversity in the production and tone of each track.

For me though, it’s the middle tracks of the record that really grabbed my attention. ‘Outta My Mind’ is possibly the strongest track on the record, instantly giving me goosebumps. It’s the kind of career-defining song that people come back to as a fan favourite with incredible gang vocals and and angsty but upbeat tone that is somehow also heavy at the same time.

‘Ink Stains’ has some lovely the half-time moments, a high-pitched, powerful vocal, with the cutting line, “You won’t be hearing from me any more,” and even a chaotic, half-spoken, half-sung breakdown, a bit like the one in Good Charlotte’s ‘Predictable’.

‘Nasty Man’ is a deep track, seemingly about a predatory man – someone promising a young girl what she wants and taking advantage of it, whilst ‘Your Idols Are Dying’ is an angst-ridden anthem about internal struggles, drugs and finding out that the people you admire and look up to most are not all they’re made up to be. There’s a perfect scream breakdown that goes right to the end of the track too!

‘Empty House’ is another example of a metaphorical track too, initially addressing being alone and screaming out for help, but it’s a progressive story that builds to a more positive ending, about learning to love yourself – it’s quite beautiful!

It’s actually funny how an album cover can mislead you – I wasn’t expecting to like this record quite as much as I did, based on the cover alone, but ended up thoroughly loving it. It’s a real testament to show that you shouldn’t judge an album by its cover.

Love Is Dead And We Killed Her is a truly exciting album that although wouldn’t always be my normal cup of tea, truly captivated me. There’s something exciting about the delivery throughout the record and a real sense of diversity in the production and tone of each track. Sure, there are certain elements that fall within the same vein as Paramore but they are also, so much more – it’s like they learnt to scream and got a whole bit heavier in tone.

I’m super excited to see what Doll Skin put out next, as this album is a banger, and you can bet these tracks will be incredible live!

Rating
4-5


‘Love Is Dead And We Killed Her’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/love-is-dead-and-we-killed-her/1459583026


Love Is Dead And We Killed Her on Spotify

Mark My Words (Official Music Video)

Outta My Mind (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this band’s third release? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: The Dangerous Summer – Mother Nature 🌊

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerThe Dangerous Summer are a rock band from Maryland, USA who formed back in 2006.

The band released 3 studio albums before parting ways in 2014. However, since reforming in 2017, and releasing their fourth, self-titled album (The Dangerous Summer), the band are now unleashing their fifth studio album to the world, Mother Nature. Here are our thoughts on the record…

The Dangerous Summer - Mother Nature.jpg

This feels very much like the album that should have arrived in 2018 to mark the band’s resurrection, because this album is pretty sublime. It’s a unique brand of melodic and mature emo-esque rock that isn’t afraid to talk about feelings in a direct way.

It opens with ‘Prologue’ a track led with a positive voice message from a female, letting the recipient know that she’s there for them. It’s actually a nice, uplifting message that somehow manages to feel personal to us, the listener. Pretty quickly, we’re then catapulted seamlessly into ‘Blind Ambition’, a track with a pretty amazing guitar line that somehow feels forcefully positive, to the point it gives me goosebumps.

There is something quite beautifully simplistic about the way difficult, even tumultuous events in our own lives can be compared to the unstoppable forces of Mother Nature, at times, leaving us weak and powerless – it’s truly poetic. This is displayed with wonderful imagery on tracks such as ‘Virginia’ and ‘Bring Me Back To Life’ with powerful lyrics like “I must be weak, if you couldn’t tell, I couldn’t breathe, bring me back to life now, bring me back to peace, give me back the sun now, can you give it back to me?”

It’s not quite a concept album, yet at the same time kind of is; whatever it is, it works…really well!

‘Mother Nature’ itself is a track that really encapsulates the tone of the record. It’s a song about having hope, accepting changes we face in life and being bold enough to embrace changes within ourself. Perdomo successfully evokes powerful imagery of mother earth and nature, and sells his own willingness to become a part of it.

Equally, the album’s lead single, ‘Where Were You When The Sky Opened Up’, has an apocalyptic feel to it, describing facing demons head-on and attempting to mature.

Other tracks to pay attention to include: ‘Starting Over / Slow Down’ a track of two halves – the first half is slow and melodic with vocals that cross over each other, whilst the second half is more synth-driven and up tempo with an amazing, all-consuming, drum ending. ‘It Is Real’ see Perdomo sing of drug-taking and trying to understand the world with a deep sense of nostalgia. The metronome sound throughout is pretty cool too. ‘Better Light’ has this amazing vocoder-esque intro that sounds somewhat like an Imogen Heap track that builds with soaring falsetto vocals – it’s very euphoric and ethereal. Lastly, there’s ‘Consequence Of Living’, an almost a positive look back at the end of your life and being able to observe how you lived your life.

One major thing that can’t go unnoticed is AJ Perdomo‘s sensational vocals throughout the album! He delivers emotion with utter sincerity from incredible falsetto to aching melancholy with some seriously angst-ridden screams on the likes of ‘Way Down’ – an angry, heavy rock song about dark thoughts; possibly one of the best tracks on the record?!

Mother Nature is an exciting return for the band – it feels like they’ve found a sound and style that works for them. It’s not quite a concept album, yet at the same time kind of is; whatever it is, it works…really well! I defy people not to find themselves drawn to this record time and again to indulge on its honesty to reflect on life’s big events. There’s a real feeling of excitement I get from listening to this album and I can’t wait to see what the band do next!

Rating


‘Mother Nature’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/mother-nature/1458152823


Mother Nature on Spotify

Where Were You When The Sky Opened Up (Official Music Video)

Way Down (Official Music Video)

Bring Me Back To Life (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our latest review! What do you think of this band’s fifth record, Mother Nature? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: Frank Iero And The Future Violents – Barriers

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Frank Iero initially rose to fame as the rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist of My Chemical Romance but following the break-up of the band in 2013, Iero set off on his own with his first solo project, in 2014. So far, the project has changed incarnations with each album (first as frnkiero and the cellabration, then Frank Iero and the Patience) and this third album is no different. 2019 sees him return as Frank Iero and the Future Violents with his third album, Barriers. Here’s what we have to say about it…

For this album, Frank and the band recorded 17 songs in just 15 days, all of which were recorded live and directly on to tape, giving the whole record a very raw feel.

The album opens with the aptly-named, ‘A New Day’s Coming’ – an organ led opening that serves as a sort of religious sermon before becoming slightly Country-tinted and like a song you might hear at a dive bar in the Deep South of America. The pairing of Frank’s vocal with a female’s makes for a great sound and the guitar solo is pretty epic too!

‘Young and Doomed’ (the lead single for the album) quickly follows, changing the pace of the record with a definite grungy, garage-rock anthem sound and a little nod to his My Chemical Romance days in the line, “And I promise that I’m not OK (Oh, wait, that’s the other guy.”

Other songs to take note of include: ‘Basement Eyes’ which is sort of like an early My Chemical Romance track – it’s a melodic, sorrowful and impactful track; ‘The Unfortunate’ has a folky vibe with violin and piano instrumentation making it a rather beautiful track and ‘Moto Pop’ conjures up images of the circle pits that will ensue when this track is played live. It’s possibly one of the best tracks on the record for its edgy, intense and fast-paced demeanour.

There’s a lot to be admired about what Frank stands for in terms of his writing and recording process and certainly a lot of magic is captured by the process this was recorded with.

There are other rather magical moments throughout the album, such as off-key harmonies on ‘Medicine Square Garden’, the haunting piano and a vocal reminiscent of the Deja Entendu days of Brand New on ‘Police Police’ and ‘The Host’ which is a dreamy, mellow rock track.

There are a few tracks however that seem to merge into one and don’t quite stand out from the rest; ‘Great Party’ displays somewhat naive songwriting – it’s rather angsty and stroppy as it details lusting after someone you miss whilst ‘Fever Dream’ and ‘Ode to Destruction’ are more traditional, screamy punk songs.

The final two tracks on the record particularly make for a memorable impact on the listener though. ‘Six Feet Down Under’ addresses the accident Frank Iero had in Australia a couple of years back that proved nearly fatal. It has interesting vocal intonation on the verses, that are almost conversational. Finally, ’24k Lush’ brings Barriers to a rather epic-sounding close – it starts off mellow and even a little drab but builds to a rather melodic close, making the album appear to come full circle.

Barriers certainly has a garage rock band feel to it and a raw edginess of bands gone by, where albums were not over-produced to perfection. Flaws in Frank’s voice are able to stand out, meaning there’s a real vulnerability to the whole record.

There’s a lot to be admired about what Frank stands for in terms of his writing and recording process and certainly a lot of magic is captured by the process this was recorded with. It’s got a lot of wonderfully unique moments, however you certainly have to be someone that appreciates imperfections.

That said, some of the songs sound fairly similar in places, perhaps because the speed of recording and writing did not allow for much time to really tweak the sounds of the instruments and therefore differentiate between tracks?

However, there’s enough to be enjoyed about the unique, rawness of the songs that make it worth listening to and appreciating the craftsmanship.

Rating


‘Barriers’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/barriers/1454839419


Barriers on Spotify

Young and Doomed (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Frank Iero’s latest incarnation for his third full-length album release? Do you love it or loathe it? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: Millencolin – SOS 🚀🆘

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Millencolin are a punk rock band from Sweden, consisting of all four original members, Nikola Sarcevic (vocals & bass), Mathias Färm (lead guitar), Erik Ohlsson (rhythm guitar) and Fredrik Larzon (drums). To date, the band have had eight studio albums and played all around the world, including at America’s prestigious Warped Tour. Now, 2019 marks the release of SOS, the band’s ninth studio album since their 1992 inception, some 27 years later! Here’s what we have to say about the record…

Millencolin - SOS.jpg

SOS kicks straight in with the intense, apocalyptic-sounding title track, gripping you with its chugging guitars and haunting vocal chants, making it instantly clear that this is very much a punk rock album and not a commercialising into the pop punk realm.

That said, there is something very commercial about the album’s glistening production; vastly different from that of some of the band’s earlier records.

Additionally, there’s actually something very traditional about this album, like Millencolin have followed the recipe for the perfect skate rock record – ‘For Yesterday’ and ‘Nothing’ are perfect examples of this and particularly reminiscent of early Goldfinger or Alkaline Trio. However, in saying this, it also demonstrates that the band have not quite made any moves to vary their sound or try to push the boundaries of the genre, though there are bound to be countless fans that will appreciate this.

‘Sour Days’ and ‘Reach You’ particularly stand out, and although some of the most “radio friendly” tracks on the record due to their big choruses, they’re possibly the most vocally and instrumentally interesting with great harmonies and pristine changes in tempo across both.

It’s definitely a well-produced record with some strong choruses and impeccable instrumentation.

‘Yanny & Laurel’ is a good, story-telling song and interestingly named after the 2018 debate about whether a sound clip was saying the word ‘yanny’ or ‘laurel’ and is cleverly reflected with an auto-tuned chorus around the two words.

Sadly, there are some songs that just lack sincerity and would sit better on blink-182 or Green Day album (though don’t get me wrong I love both those bands), like ‘Do You Want War’ and ‘Caveman’s Land’. Both tracks have strong instrumentals but lyrically border on cringe-worthy.

‘Carry On’ really brings the album home with a strong, nostalgic-feeling chorus, which sounds almost like an audible farewell. The drums at the start, instantly draw you in and by the end of the track, it’s descended into just the right amount of chaos that you’re both satisfied and left wanting more.

Overall, SOS is a politically charged public service announcement, and takes a rather negative take on the current state of the world, even referencing the decline in society and impending end of the world as we know it. But then isn’t that what all punk rock is about?

It’s definitely a well-produced record with some strong choruses and impeccable instrumentation, however there are certainly the odd lyrical improvements and risk-taking elements that could be adopted by the band, going forward. I guess it could just be put down to, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Rating
3.5


‘SOS’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/sos/1441157359


SOS on Spotify

SOS (Official Video)

Nothing (Audio Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Millencolin’s latest album, SOS? Are you a fan? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: Hold Close – Time 🕐

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerHold Close are a Pop Punk band hailing from Springfield, Missouri in the USA. To date, they have had a couple of EP releases through Hopeless Records, across 2016 and 2017 but now, 2019 sees the release of their debut album, Time. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Hold Close - Time

We’re eased into the album with title track, ‘Time’ – an intro-style song, which starts off calm and rather understated, with a nice little gang vocal, riding on top of the acoustic guitar. It has quite a wholesome sound to the opening, with the lyrics, “You know time will always heal,” but by half way, bursts into a chaotic moment and a slightly heavier tone, giving us a sense of what’s to come…before calming back to the way it begins. It doesn’t last long before swiftly leading into ‘Hang Tight’, dramatically picking up the pace.

‘Hang Tight’ has an intense beat, you can’t help but get swept up in, especially as there’s a huge sense of ecstasy in the calmer moments. Near the end of the track, there’s a note that’s almost screamed before a moment of calm that comes back round as if the track is starting again – it’s marvellous.

The best tracks on the record have to be: ‘Breath’ – a beautiful track about losing someone. It’s so stunningly passionate and heartfelt that you hang on every word. The line, “Sometimes I pretend like you’re still here,” really gets me; ‘Tropical Depression’ is deeply engrossing track due to the vocal effects and the metaphor of a relationship being a-likened to a tropical depression is wonderfully poetic; ‘Here Again’ depicts a longing for someone you miss. Subtle synths swirl around powerful vocals in the chorus, which makes for a touching outpouring of emotion; lastly, ‘Separation’ makes for an epic close to the album – hauntingly beautiful guitar melodies in the chorus are met with great instrument pushes and gang vocals to really hit it home, dropping into a long, synth outro and subtle vocals.

Other tracks include: ‘Cast Me Away’ which makes for a slightly more traditional pop punk track, ‘Absent To Reality’ has a much darker tone than most on the record whilst ‘Cloud9’ has something similar about the synth sound and melody to Keane’s ‘She Has No Time’ – it’s the lyrics that mostly resonate with me; “Will I ever learn to dream again, Escape from all the things I fear and then, Find my path to seeing clear again, Make my way through what’s to come from this.”

The only real drawback about Time is that 3 of the 11 tracks are pretty short, acting as intros/interludes – sure they are haunting and give the listener a few seconds to pause, but it would have just been amazing if there were more tracks.

There’s a real maturity to this record that a lot of bands can only dream of – it’s not quite pop punk, it’s not quite alternative rock – it’s just damn good!

The occasional echo effects on the vocals, interspersed throughout the album, alongside the diverse song-writing and instrumentation, induce real moments and feelings of euphoria – it’s the kind of album you can just turn up loud and get completely lost in – engulfed by the melodies and production.

There’s a real maturity to this record that a lot of bands can only dream of – it’s not quite pop punk, it’s not quite alternative rock – it’s just damn good! The instrumentation is intricate and well-crafted, with deeply considered, honest and relatable lyrics that must have taken a lot of self-reflection.

There is a lot of emphasis placed on memories of love and people lost, right across the album and a very clear theme of time passing, reminiscing and some degree of healing coming from that. “Time will always heal” is very much a repeated phrase. A mantra.

Time is very much like the record of a pop punk band who have already had a lengthy career and matured, going on to create an album of well-considered, thought-provoking and sonically captivating music to push the boundaries of the genre…it’s just that Hold Close have achieved it early on in their career than others. The band have produced something wonderful with this album and I truly can’t wait to hear what they create next.

Rating

4-5


‘Time’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/time/1437338395


Time on Spotify

Tropical Depression (Official Music Video)

Breath (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Hold Close’s album, Time? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: Afterlife – Breaking Point 🌡


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerAfterlife are a metal quartet from West Palm Beach, Florida, consisting of Tyler Levenson (vocals), Andrew McGuire (guitar), Tristan Edwards (bass) and Luke Walkinshaw (drums). Since signing to Hopeless Records, the band are now putting out their debut album, Breaking Point. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Afterlife - Breaking Point.jpg

The album bursts into life with serious tenacity, in the form opening track, ‘Sacrifice’ – a song laden with creepy vocal effects (somewhere in the same vein as Marilyn Manson) and come served up with a huge dose of angry, metal instrumentation.

From there, the album takes off into a flurry of metal-induced fury and it’s clear throughout, that the production quality of the record is impeccable. Not only is it a great quality record but there are a lot of layers to the tracks, making it interestingly chaotic, in parts. Unfortunately though, in places it feels like there is more style over substance and that the production and intricate instrumentation outweigh the lyrical content. For example, ‘Giving Back The Pain’ is a great song for crowds to mosh to and it has a certain commercial quality to it, but I hate to say it – lyrically, it is bordering on cringe-worthy. It’s clear what they’re trying to achieve, but I’m just not feeling it.

That’s not to say it’s all bad, by any means. ‘Throat’ has some quirky, downward spiral sounds and a catchy melody to it that is actually reminiscent of the early Eminem track, ‘Kim’, though the lyrics attempt to be profound but end up somewhat disjointed. ‘Breaking Point’ focuses on getting angry to the point that you snap and the motion of the chorus vocal is pretty captivating, while ‘Holding On’ has this brilliant bass-line leading into the track (and underpinning the chorus) with a well-written rap-style verse and an understated melody leading into the chorus, that make for a brilliant listen.

‘Grey Sky’ has a wonderful melody to the chorus line, “Where did your mind go?” that you can’t help but love – it’s gritty and raspy and really captivates the lyrical content about being trapped in your own dark thoughts.

The band’s performance throughout, is brilliant and Tyler Levenson‘s screaming is incredible – he has a great singing vocal too.

Possibly the best tracks on the record have to be ‘Karma’, which is a really great angry anthem to blare out when you just want someone to get what they deserve. “Try to run, try to run, try to hide, Karma’s coming for you bitch” – I mean God, it just oozes rage! And ‘Broken Home’ – the album doesn’t really let up on the anger front until this track, where suddenly it seems to get a little lighter in tone and whilst the subject is sad and there’s still a little grunginess to it, it’s not so fuelled by hatred and dark screaming – it’s more honest and self-reflective. It’s quite possibly the best track on the album.

As far as Hopeless Records releases go, this is not your typical release from the label – it’s a lot heavier but undoubtedly, it will have an appeal to corners of the metal market. In fact, it’s got elements of rap merged with metal, like Linkin Park meets Rage Against The Machine, but just not quite as well-crafted.

That all being said, the band’s performance throughout, is brilliant and Tyler Levenson‘s screaming is incredible – he has a great singing vocal too, but the frequently-used, rap-style verses just don’t quite make the mark (lyrically and stylistically) – perhaps as the band continue to mature, they will grow lyrically too.

I’m sure there will be a lot of support for this album, particularly from fans of Hopeless Records and perhaps those who’ve begun to venture more into the metal realm, from the softer, pop punk genre. However, for the band’s next release, I hope they will work on their lyrical content to match the great instrumental performances.

Rating

2.5


‘Breaking Point’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/breaking-point/1435412838


Breaking Point on Spotify

Throat (Official Music Video)

Holding On (Official Music Video)

Sacrifice (Visual)


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


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#ThrowbackThursday: Goldfinger – ‘Get Up’


   

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I can’t believe it’s already been a decade since Goldfinger released their sixth album, Hello Destiny… (SideOneDummy Records, 2008) but it has.

The first single to be taken from the album was in fact ‘One More Time’, which although a great track, I couldn’t resist sharing ‘Get Up’ in all of its pop punk/ska punk glory! In fact, on iTunes, it is actually the most popular track on the record!

It actually wasn’t released as a single, so no music video exists but it’s chock full of political messages that really pack a punch! It’s the sort of song you can really visualise a politically-driven video for though; the kind that would feature news clips, etc.!

Great song, great message, incredible band!

What are your thoughts of this 2008 pop punk/ska punk belter? Are you still a fan of the track, 10 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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‘Get Up’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/get-up/993329380?i=993329394