#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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#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Aaron Barrett from Reel Big Fish

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Reel Big Fish are undoubtedly one of the world’s biggest ska punk bands (as if you didn’t already know!) and December 2018 saw the band release their ninth studio album (and first new album in 6 years), Life Sucks…Let’s Dance! (click the link to read our review).

I was lucky enough and truly honoured that Aaron Barrett took some time out of the band’s busy tour schedule to talk to me!


Hey Aaron, so you‘ve been gearing up to release your ninth studio album, ‘Life Sucks… Let’s Dance!’ and the buzz around it seems be great but how do you feel prior to a new release? Is it nerve-wracking or exciting?
Aaron Barrett: There is definitely a lot of excitement this time around because I think for the first time in my life I am totally confident in the record. I know it’s really good and the songs are awesome and I can’t wait for people to hear it! In the past I really always was insecure about the albums and thought people would hate the new stuff and I just dreaded everything about putting out a new one.

Well nothing to fear with this record…it’s great! So where did the idea for the title come from and what’s the meaning behind it?
Aaron Barrett: That was just one of the songs I wrote for the album and I guess it’s just kind of how I’m feeling these days. Just make the best of whatever situation you’re in, that’s about all you can do sometimes.

What’s the track you’re most excited for people to hear?
Aaron Barrett: All of them! There are so many great songs on this record! I think my favorites are ‘Life Sucks; Let’s Dance’, ‘In Love Again’ and ‘I’d Rather Get It Wrong’.

All great tracks! What’s your usual process for writing/recording and where do you take inspirations from?
Aaron Barrett: I’ve never been a “Sit down and write a song/album” kind of guy. I pretty much just wait for song ideas to pop into my head. I might be at a restaurant, in the shower, at the beach, I never know where or when an idea will come. But when it does, I don’t record anything, I don’t write anything down, I just try to remember and I figure that if it’s good enough for me to remember for a few years, then it’s time to get out the guitar and figure out how it goes and show it to the rest of the guys. So this new record is just the last 5 years of little musical ideas piling up in my brain! Haha.

I love that – so organic and honest! Haha! So what future plans have you got? Any big tours? Will you be winging your way over to the UK any time soon?
Aaron Barrett: Well with the release of a new record, that means even more touring than we usually do! Gotta go everywhere and spread the word about the new music. We will definitely be in the UK this summer and who knows, maybe the fall too!

If you could have anyone feature on a track, who would it be and why?
Aaron Barrett: I’d love to have CC Deville from Poison do a guitar solo on a song! Or maybe do a duet with Dolly Parton? That would be cool!

Both of those would be amazing! What music have you been listening to most recently?
Aaron Barrett: I’ve been listening to nothing but 80’s country music for the last couple weeks on the tour bus, the rest of the band hates me now! Haha!

Haha! Reel Big Fish goes Country for the next album?! Maybe not! If you had to cover a recent chart song, which song would it be and why?
Aaron Barrett: I honestly couldn’t name one hit song that’s been out in the last few years, I’m completely out of touch with music today…thank goodness! Haha.

Haha, fair enough! Where are some of your favourite cities to perform at?
Aaron Barrett: I always love to do shows in Hawaii because…well I get paid to go to Hawaii!! And of course I always love to tour the UK!

Who wouldn’t love to play in Hawaii! What a lucky guy you are. What makes a show particularly amazing for you?
Aaron Barrett: I think what makes a show great for me is if the audience is singing along and dancing and going crazy, that’s the most important thing for me. I do everything I can to keep people moving and excited and having a good time. And if anybody laughs at my dumb jokes, that’s a bonus too!

I bet they do; you’re a funny and charismatic guy! So, has anything really scary ever happened to you on tour? If so, what?
Aaron Barrett: We had a tour bus that burned down one time, that was pretty scary. Everybody was asleep in their bunks on the bus and the bus driver came running in waking everybody up telling all to get out. Some of the guys didn’t even grab their shoes or wallets and we pretty much all lost our cell phones. But all of our music gear was ok and we all survived. But that was crazy…and scary.

Sounds horrendous…at least you were all alright! Do you have any pre-show or post-show rituals?
Aaron Barrett: I think the only pre-show ritual we have is drinking a few beers and changing into our stinky show clothes. Nobody does any yoga or punches themselves in the balls 30 times before they hit the stage or anything, haha!

Haha, now there’s an image! Have any of you got any weird habits?
Aaron Barrett: Yea, we all listen to SKA music!

Good one! Do you have any other passions outside of music?
Aaron Barrett: I’m obsessed with my dog Walter! Check him out on Instagram: @thewonderfulworldofwalter

*Looks on Instagram* ADORABLE! What really grinds your gears?
Aaron Barrett: When people ask me stupid questions…

Awkward…sorry, haha! What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to any of you, in life?
Aaron Barrett: I started a Ska band!

Embarrassing…or super cool?! What’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
Aaron Barrett: Edward Penis-hands.

Haha…enough said! If, in say 10 years time, a film was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
Aaron Barrett: Kermit the Frog.

The Muppets as Reel Big Fish…love it! If you were a chocolate bar, which one would you be and why?
Aaron Barrett: I like sour candy, can I be one of those?

Course you can! Lastly, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Aaron Barrett: “Don’t worry, be happy.”

Massive thanks to Aaron for taking the time to interview with me and to Mike Cubillos from Earshot Media for organising the interview.

📸Photo Credit: Jodi Cunningham


Reel Big Fish‘s releases are all available:


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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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#Review: With Confidence – Love And Loathing 🥀


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerWith Confidence are a pop punk band from Sydney, Australia, who formed back in 2012. Having been through some line-up changes, the band now consists of Jayden Seeley (lead vocals & bass), Inigo Del Carmen (lead guitar & backing vocals) and Joshua Brozzesi (drums). In 2016, the band signed to Hopeless Records and released their debut album Better Weather. Now, in 2018, the band are back with their sophomore record, Love And Loathing. Here’s what we have to say about it…

With Confidence - Love And Loathing.jpg

This feels very much like the band have studied and followed the recipe for making the perfect pop punk record, down to a tee…and that’s not even a bad thing! Somehow, the record feels timeless within the realm of the genre but without sounding like a carbon copy of so many others. After only a couple of listens, it feels just like returning to an old favourite that has been in my collection for years!

Opening track, ‘That Something’, is a stunning way to kick off an album – it’s got catchy vocals (but not obviously so) about finding a new love interest, paired with strong instrumentals of varied tempos, topped off with superb and subtle production flourishes.

Other huge tracks to take note of, include: ‘The Turnaround’ is a massive tune about making a change in your life and grabbing it by the horns, all accompanied by seriously incredible falsetto vocals; ‘Jaded’ which is a fast-paced thrashing track that you might find from the likes of Simple Plan; ‘Better’ is probably my favourite song on the record – about the desire to improve yourself with it’s occasionally satirical lyrics and soaring high-pitched vocal melodies, it’s a track you can easily get lost in.

Diversity spans the record: ‘Spinning’ is much calmer tune that has ‘woohoos’ and the subtle catchiness of a We The Kings or Maroon 5 track; ‘Pâquerette (Without Me)’ wishes an old love well with mellow acoustic vibes and ‘Icarus’ is a far grungier and more aggressive song that bares a resemblance to something by You Me At Six – it’s got heavy guitars and screamy vocals and adds a new depth to the record.

After only a couple of listens, it feels just like returning to an old favourite that has been in my collection for years!

Even in its lower moments, this is an album that feels overall, positive and like a band that’s been revitalised. The tracks each sound unique and interesting in their own ways; some outright pop punk anthems, other mellow, heartfelt ballads and even a couple of slightly more experimental numbers…yet it all still comes together as a cohesive record. Love And Loathing is just that – a record of two halves, covering the excitement of new relationships and hatred of old ones.

It is a tight, well-produced album that, despite some recent, tumultuous events, feels like a band now set for even bigger things! Could this be the next All Time Low or 5 Seconds Of Summer? If you’re a pop punk fan, you will love every second of this record!

Rating
4-5


‘Love And Loathing’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/love-and-loathing/1388719305


Love And Loathing on Spotify

That Something (Official Music Video)

Moving Boxes (Official Music Video)

Jaded (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s second album? 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 hit us up via our social media.


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#Review: Trophy Eyes – The American Dream 🇺🇸


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerTrophy Eyes are an Australian pop punk band consisting of John Floreani (lead vocals), Jeremy Winchester (bass guitar & backing vocals), Andrew Hallett (lead guitar), Kevin Cross (rhythm guitar) and Blake Caruso (drums). To date, the band have released 2 albums and an EP through Hopeless Records and this, The American Dream, is their third full-length album. Here’s what we have to say…

Trophy Eyes - The American Dream.jpg

The American Dream has a much more mature sound to it than either of the band’s previous releases. It’s somewhere in the vein of Sugarcult‘s Lights Out and You Me At Six‘s Cavalier Youth with some of Thirty Seconds To MarsThis Is War epicness thrown in.

The first track, ‘Autumn’, launches the album with a life-spanning and reflective tune that whilst it doesn’t quite burst into frantic action like so many other pop punk albums, sets a more impressive tone for the rest of the record.

Next comes ‘Something Bigger Than This’, a rather emotive track about being something more than we perceive and how life will make more sense at the end. It’s not crass or overly indulgent in insincerity like so many other bands – this feels real and honest.

In my opinion, ‘Friday Forever’ is by far the best track on the record – from it’s frantic, guitar-driven verses, to its suspenseful build-up into the powerhouse that is the chorus, this track just bursts at the seems with euphoric pop punk at its best. This is definitely a track to keep on repeat!

From epic choruses to emotive lyrics and powerful, pained vocals to punchy guitars, The American Dream is an album that will drive this band forward in their career.

Some of the other, most notable songs include: ‘More Like You’ which is certainly a crowd-pleaser, with its “woah ohs” but has the added depth of scream vocals; ‘You Can Count On Me’ is a definite summer anthem with its massive crescendo and satirical look at band life with the chorus hook, “Some of my friends sell drugs but I just sell sad songs to the ones who feel alone”; ‘Broken’ is a beautiful, ballad-esque track that has a understated yet very catchy chorus – a brilliantly-written track that’s very different to some of the other tracks on the album and ‘Lavender Bay’ feels very nostalgic with mellow, melodic verses and a big gang-vocal chorus singing about how the band won’t rest until they’ve “made it” with the addition of a key change!

The album has a beautifully rich and diverse tone to it – ‘A Cotton Candy Sky’ is an intensely dark and haunting song that feels a little out of place but it’s eerily captivating whilst ‘Tip Toe’ is a great little ballad.

‘I Can Feel It Calling’ is a monumental track, coming in at over 6 minutes in length and going through a range of sounds and displaying a variety of influences, bringing this stunning album to a wonderful close.

This is certainly an album you’ll have on repeat as there’s just so much to love about it! From epic choruses to emotive lyrics and powerful, pained vocals to punchy guitars, The American Dream is an album that will drive this band forward in their career, taking a slightly new direction but picking up new fans along the way. 2018 should be an exciting time for the Australian quintet!

Rating
4-5


‘The American Dream’ is out 27/07/18 and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-american-dream/1382478709


The American Dream on Spotify

Available Friday 27th July 2018.

You Can Count On Me (Official Music Video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs_7y0ToBcU


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s latest album, The American Dream? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or via our social media.


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

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#Review: State Champs – Living Proof 🐯


   

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State Champs are a pop punk powerhouse, who formed in Albany, New York, back in 2010. To date, the band have released two albums, which had great receptions, making them a staple name in the pop punk world. Now they are releasing their third full-length record, Living Proof, which is set to see the band soar to new heights!

State Champs - Living Proof.jpg

Kicked into top gear immediately, with opening track, ‘Criminal’, this epic, in-your-face thrash anthem is a high-octane way to open a record…and you’d expect nothing less from State Champs.

From there the album continues to build, from the drum-heavy and powerful ‘Frozen’ to second single, ‘Crystal Ball’, which has the perfect build-up from a calm, heartfelt introduction through to a passionate, powerful chorus. The vocals are particularly incredible on this track with a half-time section towards the end.

It’s impossible to listen to this record without craving to see them live.

Then there’s the sure-fire, off-beat crowd-pleaser and lead single, ‘Dead And Gone’, about a troubled relationship and ‘Our Time To Go’; an archetypal pop punk power ballad which tugs at the heart strings and encourages taking the positive with the negative.

Other notable tracks include, the passive aggressive, ‘Safe Haven’ which contains a brilliant musical breakdown after the chorus and a moment of solace in the middle 8 section; ‘Something About You’ is a fun, uplifting track with some superb vocal steps and is reminiscent of something by Marianas Trench whilst ‘Mine Is Gold’ has an All Time Low-vibe. It then all goes out with a bang in ‘Sidelines’; a beautifully chaotic track which breaks, in part, to a lighters-up moment of calm before descending into a final bout of pure carnage that brings the album to an epic finish.

The production on the album is top-notch too! Some stunning little effects and subtle fills make this a diverse and powerful listen!

It’s impossible to listen to this record without craving to see them live. You get every sense that a performance by this band will leave you sweaty and exhausted but greatly fulfilled. All credit to the guys for taking their time to release a new record; it’s an excellent album that will undoubtedly take pride of place in every pop punk fan’s music collection.

Rating
4-5


‘Living Proof’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/living-proof/1370452923


Living Proof on Spotify

Dead And Gone (Official Music Video)

Secrets (Official Music Video)


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


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#ThrowbackThursday: Bowling For Soup – ‘Punk Rock 101’


   

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This year sees the 15th anniversary since Bowling For Soup released their single, ‘Punk Rock 101’.

The band are known for their punk rock sound but married up with comedy and a pinch of not taking themselves too seriously, and this is certainly no different. The song serves as a lesson in writing a punk rock song, making references to other songs or things from the world of music, such as Bon Jovi‘s ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’, Fat Mike from NOFX and even the title itself is a nod to Kurt Cobain‘s suicide note.

The track is catchy as hell, fast-paced, cheeky and just downright fun!

And the music video (below) is even funnier – picturing the band amongst a large group of recruits at an army-like boot camp for rigorous training in the art of punk rock. Hilarious!

A great track that never gets old – a timeless punk rock classic!

Do you remember this song when it was released? Is this your first time hearing it? Have you got 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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‘Punk Rock 101’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/punk-rock-101/418436938?i=418437191