#Review: Bastille @ Brighton Centre, Brighton – 18/04/22

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On Monday 18th April 2022, Bastille arrived in Brighton for the closing night of their 2022 UK tour, in support of their fourth studio album, Give Me The Future. The night was incredible, with support from BIM and The Native. Here’s what we had to say about the sensational event…


BIM

Following a last-minute line-up change, due to singer, Dylan, being unable to perform, long-time Bastille backing singer, BIM, stepped up to perform as first support of the evening. Whilst she only performed 2 songs, she wowed the audience with her incredibly powerful, and soulful voice. Songs, ‘O.T.R.’ and ‘Cinematic’ both had sexy vibes to them, the latter of which makes references to a selection of films, which BIM invited the audience to guess which ones she was singing about. The singer was candid with the audience about being alone on the stage and asked for the support of the crowd, which they gave readily. A great singer, with some incredibly dynamic vocals – definitely one to look out for.


The Native

This band were an interesting act – they’re clearly young but quite experienced. Unfortunately for the singer, he was having trouble with his guitar which threw him off slightly, however they remained professional throughout the show delivering a flawless performance. That said, they could have used a little more personality, energy and smiles in their stage presence and whilst they have well-written songs, if I’m honest, they were not the most captivating tunes. That aside, they did manage to get the crowd excited for Bastille and their song, ‘In My Mind’ was a real stand-out performance.


Bastille

From the moment the band took to the stage, there was a huge surge of excitement and cheering from the anticipating crowd, particularly when singer, Dan Smith, emerged at the back of the stage, on a high platform in front of a white rectangular backdrop.

From start to finish (of the 100-minute set), this was a truly captivating experience; probably one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen! The production was instantly impressive with a cool stage set-up, that saw crossed-shaped lights dance across and above the stage, whilst a massive stage-wide screen displayed a variety of stunning visuals at the back of the stage, throughout the set.

Much as with their fourth studio album, Give Me The Future, the entire set was broken up by audio-visual interludes that made the whole performance feel as if you were part of a wonderful cyber experience.

The set was packed with an impressive amount of songs and featured both new and old tunes that had the audience singing along with every word! Even some of the deeper cuts from previous albums as well as those from their latest, had the audience ecstatic.

Despite the nearly seamless flow to the set, the band were truly considerate of their crowd too, stopping the performance a couple of times whilst people who had passed out were carefully lifted out of the crowd.

The band were highly energetic and showed off just how refined they have become at performing in a big concert venue. They’re true professionals and giants in their genre, who deserve their every success.

Without a doubt, this band are a phenominal live act to watch and will have you jumping and singing along within seconds of taking to the stage. Whilst this tour may have now drawn to a close, I’m sure the band will be back and touring again, having said they missed performing during the Covid pandemic, and I cannot recommend watching them, highly enough – they will not disappoint!

Highlights:

  • When singer, Dan Smith, jumped off the stage and into the crowd, during the band’s performance of ‘Happier’, it created a massive buzz throughout the audience and had everyone hyped up (watch the video below as I came face-to-face with him in the crowd!)
  • The appreciation for their fans just being there was evident and the love for enabling their latest album to reach Number 1 was felt by all.
  • The diversity of the set was really thrilling, with a combination of new and old, fast and slow songs, meaning the crowd were kept on their toes throughout.
  • The stage design was amazing – it enhanced the performance without detracting from the band themselves in a wonderfully immersive way.
  • ‘Things We Lost In The Fire’, ‘Happier’, ‘Of The Night’‘Future Holds’ (due to BIM‘s stunning vocals!) and ‘Pompeii’ were definite highlights of the show.

📷 All of the photos in this post are credited to Michael Hundertmark 📸
Why not give him a follow on Instagram and Twitter or check out his website.


 Setlist

Stay Awake?
Distorted Light Beam*
Things We Lost In The Fire
Laura Palmer
Oblivion
Those Nights
Quarter Past Midnight*
Back To The Future*
Plug In…
WHAT YOU GONNA DO???
survivin’
Good Grief*
Promises
Give Me The Future
4AM
No Bad Days
Happier*
Run Into Trouble*
Of The Night
Future Holds (with BIM)
Pompeii*

Encore
Hope For The Future
Shut Off The Lights (with The Native)

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


Finally, I want to say an enormous thank you to Jenny Entwistle from Chuff Media for sorting out this review for us and to BastilleThe Native and BIM for putting on a remarkable event!


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Placebo – Never Let Me Go

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Placebo are a British rock band who formed in London back in 1994. The band has had several line-up changes over the years, but currently consists of founding members, Brian Molko (vocalist and guitarist) and Stefan Olsdal (bassist and guitarist). Since their 1996 debut, the band have released seven full-length albums, but 2022 sees the band releasing their eighth studio album, Never Let Me Go. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Placebo - Never Let Me Go

It’s been 9 years since the band released their last studio album, so needless to say, excitement surrounding this release has been incredibly high…and rightly so!

The band have produced a record of epic proportions, packed to the brim with big songs and an extensive use of synths that has added a new-found diversity to their sound.

Never Let Me Go launches with the guitar-heavy and eerily synthesized ‘Forever Chemicals’ that instantly demonstrates the rock giants are back and mean business! It quickly flows into the epic single, ‘Beautiful James’ with its continued, heavy synth use and typical Placebo vocal from Brian Molko; yet the boundaries are clearly being pushed in respect of their musical style.

One thing’s for certain, the style of the album, whilst a comprehensive body of work, also offers a diversity throughout that is bound to prick up listener’s ears everywhere and have them coming back for more – there’s so much to take in, that you can’t help but revisit it, time and again.

Some of the standout tracks from the record include, ‘Happy Birthday In The Sky’ – a sombre and emotional song that reflects on the loss of people loved and sees a calm breakdown lead into a chaotic ending. ‘The Prodigal’ has regal-sounding and cinematic strings that remind of some sort of film soundtrack, whilst ‘Try Better Next Time’ focuses on the state of emergency the environment is in, on top of an anthemic, radio-friendly melody.

Never Let Me Go clearly demonstrates that the band are back and have used their time away to craft a masterpiece.

One of the best tracks on the record though, is the incredibly upbeat ‘Twin Demons’ that is just begging to be danced to live, at one of their upcoming UK tour dates! It has captivating melodies and all-encompassing instrumentals that are sure to draw in every listener.

Other tracks not to be missed, are the marching beat and grungy guitar-led ‘Hugz’ with its sincere lyrics – a very anarchic song. ‘Surrounded By Spies’ is sinister-sounding with its almost industrial melodies and bass-led breakdown that kick back into double-time drums and a chaotic descent to the end. Whilst ‘Chemtrails’ features shimmering synths and echoing guitars that ascend the melodies throughout, whilst singing about getting away from it all.

The ending of the album is a little more unique: ‘This Is What You Wanted’ is an aching, piano-led track that never fully kicks in, as you might expect; ‘Went Missing’ is very “spoken verse” – it’s poetic, repetitive and almost foreboding with echoing guitars that give it a sense of inner reflection, whilst closing track, ‘Fix Yourself’ borders on confrontational, choosing to focus on things that annoy Molko. It’s hypnotic and moody with processed beats that fade to the end.

Despite being nearly an hour long, the album does well to keep the listener’s attention as it navigates interesting soundscapes and controversial topics, whilst intertwining that familiar Placebo charm throughout. Never Let Me Go clearly demonstrates that the band are back and have used their time away to craft a masterpiece. It’s achingly beautiful and deeply thought-provoking. It’s an album that shows the band have what it takes to push themselves to continue growing their sound, over a quarter of a century into their career! Who knows what direction they will take next, but whatever it is, it’s bound to be captivating.

Rating
4.5


‘Never Let Me Go’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/never-let-me-go/1592498059


Never Let Me Go on Spotify

Beautiful James

Surrounded By Spies


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s eighth 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 via our social media.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: James Arthur @ Brighton Centre, Brighton – 12/03/22

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On Saturday 12th March 2022, James Arthur arrived in Brighton to perform an incredible show in support of his latest album, It’ll All Make Sense In The End. With support from Sonia Stein, the evening was one packed with excitement and stunning performances. Here’s what we had to say about the show…


Sonia Stein

Sonia Stein was an interesting performer – she seems to eloquently blend funk and soul with contemporary pop, making for a really interesting sound. Think somewhere along a similar vein to Nao and you’re along the right track. She graced the stage in a bright yellow jacket, accompanied by just two band members, however between them, they produced a fantastically full-on sound. Between songs, she displayed an almost shy demeanour, yet her vocals were powerful, well-controlled and confident. If you’ve not checked her out yet, you can catch her live throughout James Arthur‘s current UK tour, or listen to her recordings on all streaming platforms.


James Arthur

He may have done something amazing simply by winning X Factor in the UK, but James Arthur demonstrated that he is so much more than just a talent show winner at his Brighton Centre show.

The singer/songwriter took to the stage to monumental applause from the packed crowd as he showed off not only his incredible vocals but his great guitar skills too, on opening track, ‘4000 Miles’.

From there, the artist proceeded to wow the audience with a mixture of his well-known hits, old cuts from previous records and some album-tracks from the recently-released, It’ll All Make Sense In The End.

The singer is undoubtedly a true professional, having spent 10 years in the industry, performing countless shows and releasing 4 albums to date, and his show appeared seamless throughout.

One thing that truly stands out in his performances though, is just how incredibly powerful and achingly beautiful his voice is live. Of course this is something you’d expect from having heard his studio recordings but it translates so well to his live performances as he shows off just how technically impressive his voice is…and it’s all done so effortlessly.

James Arthur engages with the crowd well telling little anecdotes here and there but particularly shows his gratitude to the crowd for their decade of support since winning the X Factor and how grateful he is to the show for allowing him to pursue his dreams, before launching in to the incredible single that started it all, ‘Impossible’.

Four albums in and nearly a couple of handfuls of tours down, it’s easy to see why this singer/songwriter has picked up such a fantastic following and just how wonderful his shows are. Whether you know each and every song or are relatively new to his music, I can’t recommend highly enough, seeing him live whenever you get the chance. He will not disappoint.

Highlights:

  • His vocals – I said it earlier, but his voice was truly remarkable – powerful and dynamic; something mesmerising to behold live.
  • The cruel joke he played on the audience by welcoming out Anne-Marie to perform an acoustic rendition of The Greatest Showman cover, ‘Rewrite The Stars’, before admitting she wasn’t actually coming.
  • The renditions of ‘Happy Birthday’ he sung to a couple of members of the crowd were hilarious, particularly when he couldn’t hear the name of one of them and had to keep getting them to repeat their name numerous times.
  • The addition of a section of ‘Ready Or Not’ in the middle of ‘Sermon’ made for a great crowd-pleaser.

📷 All of the photos in this post are credited to Matteo D’Ambrosio 📸
Why not give him a follow on Instagram.


 Setlist

4000 Miles
Medicine*
Sermon (including a snippet of ‘Ready Or Not’)
Falling Like The Stars
September
Can I Be Him
Rewrite The Stars (Acoustic)*
Safe Inside/Empty Space/Emily (Acoustic)
Naked (Acoustic)
Last Of The Whiskey
Always
Sun Comes Up*
Impossible*

Encore
Train Wreck
Lasting Lover*
Say You Won’t Let Go*

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


Finally, I want to say a HUGE thanks to Simon Blackmore for arranging this review for me and to both James Arthur and Sonia Stein for putting on such incredible performances.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Bryan Adams – So Happy It Hurts

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Bryan Adams needs no real introduction, however for anyone who doesn’t know, he is a Canadian multi-talented singer, songwriter, composer, guitarist, record producer and photographer. With 14 studio albums already behind him, 2022 sees the release of his 15th record, So Happy It Hurts. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Bryan Adams - So Happy It Hurts

For his fifteenth studio album, Bryan Adams set out to create an upbeat, feel-good rock album, and that is just what he did. From start to finish, the record is unashamedly happy…which is where the title, So Happy It Hurts, comes into play.

From it’s opening, title track, to the closing ‘These Are The Moments That Make Up My Life’, which looks at all the little nuiances in his life that mean so much to him, the album is filled with a joyous positivity.

There’s a lot to enjoy about this record however there are times where it feels like a progressive step forward in sound wouldn’t have gone amiss. Additionally, lyrically it is quite simplistic (dare I say it, even a little cringey in parts, particularly on ‘Let’s Do This’) and some more poetic licence could also have been applied.

That said, it’s a triumph in that Adams played the majority of the instruments on the album, due to recording constraints during the global Covid pandemic. Also, his voice is impeccably strong and as powerful and raspy as ever, showing off that he still has a great deal left to give.

For people looking for some euphoric escapism in the form of feel-good rock, this is certainly an album for you.

There are some great tracks throughtout the record though, including single, ‘Kick Ass’ featuring a great introduction from comedy legend, John Cleese and a truly “kick ass” and catchy guitar riff; ‘Always Have, Always Will’ feels like a classic Bryan Adams track tinted with some underlying reggae vibes that lyrically touches upon a long-lasting love that’s survived the test of time and is greatly appreciated for what it is; and ‘I Ain’t Worth Shit Without You’ is a great guitar-led track that really packs a punch.

Possibly my favourite track on the record though is the 50s-esque, rock’n’roll inspired, ‘I’ve Been Looking For You’ – I particularly love it as it stands out so brilliantly from the rest of the album and offers something different than any of the other songs.

The collection of 12 tracks celebrates being happy in what has been a terribly dark time for many, and provides an escape from reality that so many have needed.

For people looking for some euphoric escapism in the form of feel-good rock, this is certainly an album for you. It’s not necessarily breaking any boundaries sonically but it does give you the lift you need on a down day and will have you bopping along from start to finish.

Rating
3.5


‘So Happy It Hurts’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/so-happy-it-hurts/1586975297


So Happy It Hurts on Spotify

So Happy It Hurts (Official Music Video)

Never Gonna Rain (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the singer’s latest album? 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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#Review: Dashboard Confessional – All The Truth That I Can Tell

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All The Truth That I Can Tell is Dashboard Confessional‘s ninth studio album. It poses as both a reinvention and a rediscovery of what made the band the big emo hitters. Returning to work with James Paul Wisner (The Swiss Army Romance, The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most), have Dashboard Confessional reignited the flame that lit so many fans over the past 20 years?

Dashboard Confessional - All The Truth That I Can Tell

It’s not always common for a reviewer to pin their colours to the mast about the band they are reviewing, but for the sake of clarity and sense I will declare that I’ve never been a huge Dashboard Confessional fan. Many of my friends loved them, but I just didn’t get the hype at the time of their breakout years. However, times have changed. I have matured (don’t laugh), or at least my tastes have, and I wanted to give Dashboard Confessional’s ninth studio album a try, to see if I can work out why they are a band that has managed nine studio albums. I’m going into this blind… (or deaf?!) having not really listened before…

All The Truth That I Can Tell is a very complete album that requires your full attention.

Initially I was surprised to find that the whole album is based on acoustic and it is all the better for it. It’s a mixture of acoustic rock like ‘Pain Free In Three Chords’ but mostly straight up ballads like the single ‘Burning Heart’ and the beautifully crafted ‘Young’. Having the whole album as an acoustic affair allows for the lyrics to steal the show and gives the record a very mature feel. Despite this, there are still some wonderful guitar flourishes such as those in the ‘The Better of Me’ to add some colour to the music, alongside the well-crafted lyrics.

Lyrically, the album has a very narrative feel. As someone who is approaching their mid-30s it did speak to me and again I was surprised. It’s touching on the usual stuff you would expect; love, loss and everything in between, but it also pulls on more mature themes such as becoming a parent (‘Me and Mine’) and letting go of the trivial past and appreciating the little things in life (‘Here’s To Moving On’). It shows that Dashboard Confessional are avoiding what many bands from the 2000s have failed to do, and that is keep themselves relevant to their ageing (and sometimes maturing) fans.

Chris Carrabba is writing about what I can only assume is his here and now. This is the aspect of the album I loved the most. I found myself going back to tracks that I wasn’t paying full attention to on the first listen so that I could delve deeper into the narrative. And that’s just it. No clumsy metaphors, just a long stream of thought written out over beautiful acoustic melodies. It’s very descriptive story telling over music that, as I already said, draws you into to listen more intently.

Overall this album should be appreciated as a whole, but there are some standout tracks that are worth their own mention here. Firstly, ‘Everyone Else Is Just Noise’ is a great example of how acoustic tracks can have a great dynamic range even when just a few instruments are utilised. Also, ‘Sunshine State’, a song about regrets and letting go of the past, has a great singalong factor, it’s simple chorus which is now living rent free in my head.

If I could have one small criticism of the album, it is that the stripped-back nature of an acoustic setup feels like it removes some of the emotion from the music. A good example of this is in ‘The Better of Me’, where there is a great build up in the music and some raw vocal emotion pushing through, but it feels a bit flat as it hits it’s climax. I feel that a full band on some of the tracks would really help to hit home, the emotions that Carraba is trying to get across in his vocals. But you can’t have it all and having a full band in other tracks would have the opposite effect of ruining some deeper emotional meaning from the lyrics.

All The Truth That I Can Tell is a very complete album that requires your full attention. It has great attention to detail in both the lyrical content and in it’s musicality. It needs your full attention because it’s trying to tell a story through a straight narrative, rather than setting a tone of emotion. It feels very direct in that sense and if the lyrics speak to you then you will love this album, if they don’t you’ll probably still enjoy some stand-out tracks.

Rating
4


‘All The Truth That I Can Tell’ is out 25/02/22 and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/all-the-truth-that-i-can-tell/1580384081


All The Truth That I Can Tell on Spotify

Coming 25/02/22.

Here’s To Moving On (Official Music Video)

Burning Heart (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Dashboard Confessional’s ninth studio 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 via our social media.


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Rob Manhire
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#Review: Fickle Friends @ Chalk, Brighton – 13/01/22

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On Thursday 13th January 2022, Fickle Friends kicked off their UK tour at Brighton’s Chalk, in support of their second studio album, Are We Gonna Be Alright? The band were supported by Foxgluvv and Valeras, before taking to the stage to play a packed set. Here’s what we have to say about the evening…


Foxgluvv

Stemming from London, support act Foxgluvv, aka Imogen Davies, showcased her unique pop style to early arrivals, in anticipation of the long-awaited Fickle Friends album tour.

You can see her influence from the likes of Madonna and even a touch of Kate Nash within her song writing – very 80’s inspired. She stood confidently on stage, singing songs about relationships, anxiety and identity in a sincere manner. Foxgluvv only had a handful of songs, as a debut album is still on the horizon. One standout song of the evening was the disco banger, ‘1:00AM’, with foot-stomping bass and synths, showing true potential, on par with Charlie XCX, for more exciting things to come in the future.

Michael Hundertmark


Valeras

Valeras were an interesting pair (I say pair, because they’re technically a duo but come accompanied by two other touring members). They packed a punch in terms of sound and the singer’s voice was great too – both raw and powerful. The singer, Rose, did a great job of captivating the audience too – especially when she revealed that she is part of the LGBTQ+ community and performed a personal song about this. There was another point in the set, where she stepped down from the stage and into the crowd, really capturing everyone’s attention. It was a great set and they’re certainly an act to keep an eye on.


Fickle Friends

Fickle Friends took to the stage and the crowd burst into applause and cheering as the band performed their incredibly catchy single, ‘IRL’. From there, the set was packed with a superb combination of songs, both new and old – some from their debut album, You Are Someone Else, some from EPs and some from their recently-released second album, Are We Gonna Be Alright? It was a fantastic showcase of their catalogue!

The band’s use of their instruments and backing tracks interwoven throughout the set was seamless and they demonstrated just how good they are at live performances…even after some time away from performing due to the pandemic. Singer, Natti’s voice was impeccable throughout too – effortless and powerful in all the right places.

The stage design was humble, with their second album cover as backdrop and some cool light towers on the stage to add interesting effects, but otherwise is was over to the band to wow their audience, and wow they did; the crowd were loving every second of the band’s performance, dancing and singing along throughout.

The set was split into some of their most upbeat pop tunes, then “rock hour” (as the band called it) and then “the home straight”, which consists of songs the band know inside out and have performed for so long they don’t have to think about it. Natti took a sip of her “home straight juice” and explained the layout of the set to everyone, making people laugh. “Rock hour” consisted of some of the tracks from their second album, one which they experimented with a heavier sound, in places (read our review here).

Possibly one of my favourite moments though, was the performance of second album title track, ‘Are We Gonna Be Alright?’ The song was very different from the rest of the set and really showed off the talent in Natti’s voice, as she played guitar with fellow band member, Jack – it was beautiful.

Their crowd interactions were short and sweet but kept the show moving nicely.

One thing’s for certain; the band are polished in terms of their live performances and know how to entertain a crowd in all the right ways! If you haven’t seen them live yet, I strongly recommend catching them on this tour, especially as they’ve hinted that it might be a while before they tour again! Grab a ticket and dance and sing the night away.

Highlights:

  • The diversity of the setlist made for a truly brilliant show.
  • The energy that oozed out of the band was superb and made for a great set.
  • Favourite performances included ‘Glue’, ‘Not Okay’, ‘Love You To Death’ and ‘Say No More’.
  • ‘Pretty Great’ was a brilliant end to the set too as a vocoder was used in one part, Natti played some keyboard, Jack took centre stage and shredded the guitar, it was wonderfully chaotic in the best way and made for an outstanding close to the show.

📷 All of the photos in this post are credited to Michael Hundertmark 📸
Why not give him a follow on Instagram and Twitter or check out his website.


 Setlist

IRL
Glue*
Not Okay*
Hello Hello
Not In The Mood
Brooklyn
Write Me A Song
Yeah Yeah Yeah
Love You To Death
Hard To Be Myself*
Are We Gonna Be Alright?
Say No More*
Swim
Pretty Great

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


Finally, I want to say a HUGE thanks to Kat from Deidkated PR for arranging this review and to Fickle Friends themselves, for putting on an incredible evening.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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20 Albums Turning 20 in 2022!

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It’s a new year! It’s new you, new things to try and new starts. Unless you’re a millennial in which case it’s, “give me all the nostalgia you can!” We are the kings/queens of nostalgia and this list aims to wrap you in cosy 2000s comfort. So mix yourself up a snakebite black, attach your keys to a chain and pull on your baggy jeans, these are 20 albums turning 20 years old in 2022!

Happy New Year!!!

Matt & Rob


20. Finch – What it is to Burn

What does Rob say:

What it is to Burn introduced so many of us to the Post Hardcore genre and helped propel it more into the mainstream. Like so many Emo/Post Hardcore bands of the time, Finch never really lived up to the hype past this album, but What it is to Burn is an absolute classic of the time.


19. Alexisonfire – Alexisonfire

What does Rob say:

Three members of Alexisonfire were just 17 when they released their self-titled album! It brought a raw sound to the ‘scene’ beautifully complemented by Dallas Green’s melodic vocals. This album thrust Alexisonfire firmly into the lime light, and they went on to influence so many bands that it had to make our list!


18. Queens of the Stone Age – Songs for the Deaf

What does Rob say:

QOTSA rocketed to mainstream with Songs for the Deaf. Singles like ‘No One Knows’ and ‘Go with the Flow’ were brilliant rock anthems in their own right, but as an album Songs for the Deaf was wonderfully crafted with interlude tracks to make it a now old-school full, album listening experience.


17. Craig David – Slicker Than Your Average

What does Matt say:

Craig David returned with his second album in 2002 and whilst it didn’t reach Number 1, like his debut, this is actually packed with some pretty cool bangers; ‘What’s Your Flava?’ and ‘Hidden Agenda’ are my favourites on the record and some of the poppiest tracks but then you’ve got some real urban-influenced songs like ‘Fast Cars’ and ‘Eenie Meenie’ too.


16. Toploader – Magic Hotel

What does Matt say:

Magic Hotel was Toploader‘s second album and the follow-up to 1999’s Onka’s Big Moka – although it actually charted higher than their debut. The record is filled with big song after big song and is one of those albums that I just couldn’t get enough of. If you’re looking for stand-out songs, I’d say try ‘Time of My Life’, ‘Cloud 9’, ‘Only Desire’ and ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’.


15. Hundred Reasons – Ideas Above Our Station

What does Rob say:

We had to include this really as it epitomises UK alternative bands of the early 2000s. Hundred Reason’s debut album had emotionally felt lyrics spilled over upbeat guitar licks; it was a wonderful mashup. Twenty years on and I still find myself humming the opening guitar riff to ‘Silver’ because it is just that good!


14. Taking Back Sunday – Tell All Your Friends

What does Rob say:

How can I describe this album in such few words?! For me this is one of the most influential albums of the 2000’s emo scene. TBS’s clever writing got us either clambering to scrawl down our own clumsy metaphors or trying our best to chase down Adam Lazarra at ‘Give it a Name’ (just me, no?). Either way this album started a huge trend for the US emo scene to go global.


13. Vanessa Carlton – Be Not Nobody

What does Matt say:

Vanessa Carlton is often only known for the massive hit taken from this album, ‘A Thousand Miles’ (remember the video with the travelling piano too?!), however this album is actually packed with some pretty terrific songs, including ‘Ordinary Day’, ‘Unsung’ and a cover of The Rolling Stones‘Paint it Black’. It’s an album well worth a listen past the obvious hit.


12. Brandy – Full Moon

What does Matt say:

Brandy‘s Full Moon is actually probably one of my favourite albums on this list. I remember I actually bought it on CD whilst on holiday in France with my parents and remember listening to it on repeat the whole holiday. It’s actually quite a revolutionary R&B record with some seriously funky bass lines and synth sounds. Produced mostly by Darkchild, it’s a banger of a record. Besides the title track, other must-listens include, ‘I Thought’, ‘Apart’ and ‘What About Us?’.


11. Darren Hayes – Spin

What does Matt say:

2002 saw the release of Darren Hayes‘ debut solo album, following the split of Savage Garden and what an incredible record it was too! Still in a similar vein to his Savage Garden days on certain tracks, this wasn’t too much of a departure for him but there are some truly stunning tracks on the record, including my personal favourite, ‘I Miss You’. Others to listen to are ‘Crush (1980 Me)’, ‘Strange Relationship’ and ‘Creepin’ Up On You’ as well as the album’s lead single, ‘Insatiable.


10. Feeder – Comfort in Sound

What does Matt say:

Comfort in Sound is the fourth album from Welsh rock band, Feeder, (and the first following the suicide of their drummer, Jon Lee) and what an incredible rock album it is! It’s the perfect mixture of melodic vocals with grungy guitars and cool synth sounds too. ‘Forget About Tomorrow’ and ‘Find the Colour’ are definite favourites of mine.


9. Good Charlotte – The Young and the Hopeless

What does Matt say:

I can’t believe Rob didn’t let me put this higher on the list to be honest! This was certainly one of my favourite albums to come from 2002 as it not only propelled Good Charlotte into the mainstream but it paved the way for so many other pop punk bands to gain attention too. In fact it’s one of those albums that introduced me to the world of pop punk. The Young and the Hopeless was actually GC‘s second album but it‘s the one that really propelled them into the limelight with the singles ‘Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous’, ‘The Anthem’ and ‘Girls & Boys’ but this album is so much more than that – it’s quite frankly incredible from start to finish!


8. Simple Plan – No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls

What does Rob say:

It is quite simple, good old, jump up and down pop-punk. Everyone (even secretly) loves Simple Plan. Every track on this album is catchy as fuck and speaks to our inner 13-year-old, even to this day (I’m still a kid and life is a nightmare!). It graced every house party from its release until we all went away to uni or on to proper life and jobs. It still gets a spin whenever we meet up again.


7. Box Car Racer – Box Car Racer

What does Rob say:

Some say this was the beginning of the end for Blink (I’m team Mark btw, get well soon!) others, like me, say it allowed Blink-182 to write their greatest album. Box Car Racer was a strong departure for Tom and Travis from their usual comical stylings. Box Car Racer was serious, angry and spoke to many of us at the time. It’s a great album with many emotional tracks… and one ‘punk’ song.


6. The All-American Rejects – The All-American Rejects

What does Matt say:

The All-American Rejects originally released their self-titled debut album back in 2002 via Doghouse Records before re-releasing it on DreamWorks Records in 2003. The album was incredible and although production-wise it obviously wasn’t recorded on the highest budget, it was packed full of some real gems and wonderful quirks. It’s a stunning debut from another pop-punk band that I now follow and love.


5. Foo Fighters – One by One

What does Rob say:

Whilst the Foo Fighters need no introduction, they weren’t always the powerhouse of Rock they are considered today. Not saying that they weren’t popular before this album, but One by One was the driving force that allowed the Foo Fighters to stamp their influence on a decade and a generation of rock lovers. It’s just a straight up rock album and that’s why so many of us loved it. Done, and I’m onto the next one…


4. Justin Timberlake – Justified

What does Rob say:

I am no pop fan, anyone who knows me will testify to that, but a friend once told me to be less snobbish about pop music and shoved Justified into my ears. I love this album because every song is different but it still holds together as an album. It showed me and lots of others that pop music didn’t have to be shit, and the coming out of the 90s there was a lot of shit. This album, is full of great sing-a-long beauties.


3. New Found Glory – Sticks and Stones

What does Rob say:

Matt! Why isn’t this number one?! Ok I am bias when it comes to Pop Punk but this album influenced so many amazing bands that went on to even greater things than NFG managed at their peak. EVERY song is jump up and down excitement with great hooks and the introduction of breakdowns outside of metal. In a year where the other big hitters in pop punk weren’t releasing any new albums, New Found Glory stepped in and filled the void. It’s peak Warped Tour, Drive-Thru Records and giant skater shoes. If you know what those things are then 2002 was definitely your year!


2. Avril Lavigne – Let Go

What does Matt say:

Let Go was the debut album from pop punk princess, Avril Lavigne and was credited as the biggest pop debut of 2002; it was certified seven-times Platinum in the United States alone! Let Go had sold over 16 million copies worldwide becoming Lavigne’s biggest-selling album to date and the best selling album of the 21st century by a Canadian artist. It’s packed with huge tracks that are pure gold; from ‘Complicated’, ‘Sk8er Boi’ and ‘I’m With You’, to ‘Anything But Ordinary’ and ‘Things I’ll Never Say’ this is a massive debut album that has stood the test of time.


1. Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head

What does Matt say:

Well, we’re at the Number 1 spot and who else could we have chosen but the superb Coldplay and their remarkable second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head. This record makes greater use of the electric guitar and piano than the band’s debut and scored the band 3 Grammy Awards. It’s packed to the brim with beautiful melodies and euphoric soundscapes from the likes of ‘In My Place’, ‘The Scientist’ and of course, the massive single, ‘Clocks’. This deserves top spot on our list for being so wonderfully crafted and such a brilliant album, from a cracking British band that have gone from strength to strength since their debut.


HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of 20 albums turning 20 years old in 2022! What do you think of them? How would you have rated and ranked them? Are there any other albums you’d have included on the list? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: Delaire The Liar – EAT YOUR OWN (EP)

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Delaire the Liar have been on a steady rise over the past few years, relentlessly gracing local scenes and touring alongside some great UK talent such as Creeper, Coldbones and The Young Hearts. However, it might be time for Delaire to step into the light for themselves with EAT YOUR OWN, which shows that they have smashed it!

Delaire The Liar - EAT YOUR OWN

To kick off, this EP skirts that fine line of feeling raw and edgy without also feeling like you recorded it using an iPhone and the headphones that came in the box, whilst sat in your mate’s car (don’t lie, we’ve all been there!). Vocally it’s a superb range of emotional breaking, like with the intro to ‘NO ENTRY’ and also ‘FURNACE’; whilst also falling right back to almost a whisper. Ffin Colley’s vocals are well complimented in ‘FURNACE’ by others in the band, just to further add a level of contrast in promoting an emotional record.

And that was also the aim here, Delaire are trying to purvey some deep-level issues. Lyrically, they are not clumsily trying to sew in unnecessary metaphors. It’s hard-hitting and straight-to-the-point, covering the suicide of a loved one, serious illness, love, loss but mostly sacrifice for the ones we care about. The record hits hardest in ‘NO ACCIDENT’, where we are introduced to just guitar and vocal, pulling us into a story of helping a loved one in crisis (I won’t give away the story). There’s no building here, you’re smacked straight in the face a euphoric crescendo of melody as if emotions have just burst, much like they would in the story described throughout the song. It’s the only place on the EP where the raw tone disappears and it’s used to great effect. It’s short and well-written into the track.

Instrumentally, it’s hard to notice what’s going on as the vocals sit unashamedly high in the mix. But if you dig deeper into the sound, you hear that there are some exquisitely crafted melodies across the guitar. They are often short flourishes which break the big block of sound that is used to sit the vocals. Overall though, the rest of the band sit as a canvas for the vocals on this record and they do it well. It’s not boring though, Delaire play with some interesting rhythmic ideas such as the chorus in ‘NO THANKS’ that falls off the beat to keep us intrigued. It’s the best way to showcase the talent of the musical writing without dominating the tracks. There is one guitar solo in ‘DOG’ which is messy and ratty and fits perfectly into the track. Writing guitar work like that, on purpose, can be a tough task, but it works so well!

Delaire the Liar have managed to squeeze album-levels of emotion into just 6 tracks.

Delaire aren’t shying away from their punk roots either. Punk needs to be catchy and every track on this EP has a great hook to embed itself deep into your brain for certain recall later (normally when you’re trying to sleep…thanks guys!). In particular ‘HALLOWEEN’ and ‘NO THANKS’ bring an almost pop element to their choruses. Very melodic and lyrically lead, which help to carry the EP through the heavier music and lyrical elements. Without this, the EP would be a tough listen and one you might only reach for only if the mood fit. Instead EAT YOUR OWN will be one of those records that will sit in your playlist on a loop whatever the weather, because it clicks in with however you are feeling.

If there is one thing we can criticise this EP for, is exactly that, it’s just an EP. This had the feeling of a full-blown album in the making. Lots of dynamics across the tracks, a story to be told across 10-12 tracks. However, to mark EAT YOUR OWN down for that would be unkind given how difficult it is to write, record a produce an album of high quality without creating filler. It just left me wanting more…but maybe that’s a good thing?!

Delaire the Liar have managed to squeeze album-levels of emotion into just 6 tracks. They’ve somehow crowbarred in the epic amounts of live energy they have from their shows, kept the raw touch they bring and produced an outstanding record. This feels like Delaire’s step up to bigger things, this record is thier statement piece for people to pay attention. This is an epic EP which has firmly put Delaire the Liar on my radar for future releases, as it should for you too.

EAT YOUR OWN is out now via Rude Records.

FFO: Holding Absence, At the Drive-in, Creeper

Rating
5


‘EAT YOUR OWN’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/eat-your-own-ep/1595619213


EAT YOUR OWN on Spotify

NO ACCIDENT (Official Music Video)

HALLOWEEN (Official Music Video)

FURNACE (Official Music Video)


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


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Rob Manhire
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#Review: The Darkness @ Brighton Dome, Brighton – 17/11/21

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On Wednesday 17th November 2021, The Darkness arrived in Brighton to perform a set in support of their upcoming album, Motorheart. With support from Massive Wagon, the band performed a set packed with both hits and a few new offerings too! Here’s what we had to say about the show…


Massive Wagon

This band were not my cup of tea at all. There was lots of hair tossing, leg kicking, microphone stand twirling and screaming… to the point of distraction! They are like a garage band – not particularly polished in places but still seemed to be a crowd pleaser nonetheless!


The Darkness

As the bagpipe-esque intro played through the speakers, The Darkness took to the stage as the crowd cheered wildly.

Unfortunately, compared to the last time they played at Brighton Dome (review here), their stage design was considerably stripped back but nevertheless, they came prepared to wow their audience.

There were moments of pure guitar solo delight from Dan, Justin’s trademark falsetto vocals, bass riffs galore from Frankie and even a moment when the lead singer stood on his head in front of the kick drum.

The frontman particularly knows how to interact with and captivate a crowd. There were a couple of occasions where he had the audience calling back every note he sung and another moment when he had them repeating something deeply poetic and was frankly just chatting shit but it was hilarious!

Part way through the set, Justin made his apologies for the band being a bit rusty after their break in performing due to the pandemic and it’s true, they weren’t perfect, in places. However, they still put on a performance packed with energy and played a selection of the band’s biggest hits, fan favourites and some tracks off the new album too!

Some of the best songs performed can be seen on the YouTube playlist below – ‘It’s Love, Jim’ and ‘Motorheart’ were particular favourites from the new album, whilst you can’t go wrong with old hits like ‘Givin’ Up’, ‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman’, ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ and of course their Christmas hit, ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)’.

It was a set that despite their imperfections was fun, energetic and pure The Darkness brilliance! If you haven’t seen them before, be sure to try and check them out on this tour – they promise not to disappoint!

Highlights:

  • Justin’s crowd interactions were witty as ever and he fed off the heckles perfectly too.
  • Justin’s costume changes also added variety to the set.
  • Justin‘s live vocals are powerful and flawless, whilst his charisma oozes with dry humour and a stage presence like no other.
  • The band themselves performed with high energy and their individual talent for each of their instruments is spell-binding.
  • Justin doing a headstand in front of the kick drum during a song, before casually returning to the microphone to finish the song, was pretty damn impressive!

📷 All of the photos in this post are credited to Michael Hundertmark 📸
Why not give him a follow on Instagram and Twitter or check out his website.


 Setlist

Welcome Tae Glasgae
One Way Ticket
Growing On Me
Eastbound
Open Fire
Sticky Situations
Givin’ Up*
It’s Love, Jim*
Black Shuck
Heart Explodes
Friday Night
Love Is Only A Feeling*
The Power And The Glory Of Love
Solid Gold
Motorheart*
Barbarian
Get Your Hands Off My Woman*

Encore
I Believe In A Thing Called Love*
Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)*

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


Finally, I want to say a BIG thanks to Warren and Aoife from Chuff Media for organising this review for us!


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#Review: Normandie – Dark & Beautiful Secrets

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Dark & Beautiful Secrets is the third full-length release from Sweden’s very own Normandie. They claim this album is the true sound of the band with vocalist, Philip Strand (also a producer/writer for a number of pop artists & he even penned the Irish Eurovision entry for 2021), claiming that the album is much darker and delves more intimately into their personal lives than they have been before. Let’s see if it matches their ambitions…

Normandie - Dark & Beautiful Secrets

Overall the album is very pacy and it doesn’t let up often. Dynamically, it’s fairly steady in that it keeps up the initial pace of ‘Babylon’ and ‘Hostage’, which are very anthemic in their presence at the start of the album. Which is great. However, for an album claiming intimacy, it lacks interest in how it flows. It has more of a dance anthems playlist vibe than a gritty window into the soul. Having said that, there is some let up within the tracks themselves with stripped back choruses that then smash back into very catchy choruses. It’s the kind of thing we’ve seen from bands in a similar vein such as Don Broco and Thirty Seconds To Mars. Unlike those bands though, all the tracks feel pretty much the same, very driven and super catchy in the choruses, but that’s all.

Speaking of catchy choruses, ‘Jericho’ and ‘Holy Water’ are particular highlights on this record, but to be honest, any of the tracks would easily pass as a single release. Lyrically, the choruses are just straight to the point, trying to encompass the track as a whole with one or two lines. Again though, the album lacks imagination in its writing. The lyrics feel quite generic and although the use of some good concepts such as the idea of Holy Water drowning you (a reference to Strand turning his back on the church at the age of 14), it cannot shake some very over-used lines and clichés.

Dark & Beautiful Secrets is not a bad album, but it’s nothing that stands out from the crowd.

‘Atmosphere’ tries to break both of the issues above. It is a much slower track than the rest and is a nice relief from the driving beats and heavy melodies on the rest of the album. It really is a standout track which is unfortunately lost amongst everything else. It’s a track about losing yourself and true to its title, really has some atmosphere about it. Lyrically, it feels much stronger than the rest, less forced and the production really adds to the feeling of the track as a whole. There are some heavier elements to the album too which are ear-catching. Most notably, is the riff in ‘Mission Control’, which really throws me back to some old Muse tracks, that I haven’t visited in a while and ‘Renegade’ feels influenced by the newer Bring Me The Horizon tracks of recent times. I would say these are the only varying elements to this album but it still feels quite ‘samey’ as mentioned before.

Dark & Beautiful Secrets is not a bad album, but it’s nothing that stands out from the crowd. If you enjoy similar bands such as Don Broco, Bring Me The Horizon (later releases) and PVRIS then you will enjoy this, but I think you’ll forget about it a few weeks later. Add ‘Atmosphere’ to your favourite playlist and that will do you right.

Rating
3


‘Dark & Beautiful Secrets’ is out 19/02/21 on Easy Life Records and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/dark-beautiful-secrets/1539052326


Dark & Beautiful Secrets on Spotify

Coming Friday 19th February 2021.

Babylon (Official Music Video)

Holy Water (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s latest album? 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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Rob Manhire – Muzik Speaks
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