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

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

Tom Walker - What A Time To Be Alive.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating
5


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


What A Time To Be Alive on Spotify

Leave A Light On (Official Video)

Just You and I (Official Video)

Angels (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Tom Walker’s stunning debut, What A Time To Be Alive? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Prides – A Mind Like The Tide, Pt. 1 (EP)


   

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Prides are a Scottish indie band who originally formed in Glasgow, in 2014, as a three-piece. The act is now comprised of Stewart Brock (lead vocals and keys) and Callum Wiseman (guitar, keys and backing vocals). Since releasing their debut album, The Way Back Up, in July 2015, the pair have worked hard on creating their next release; a two-part album, starting with this, the first half, A Mind Like The Tide – Pt. 1.

A Mind Like The Tide, Pt. 1

The EP opens with ‘Every Story Of Mine Is A Story Of Yours…’ – led by an ethereal synth, the track builds beautifully to a quite cinematic climax comprised of chest-rumbling bass notes, Stewart’s trademark crooning and a collection of people speaking the title of the track, repeatedly. This is surely going to become the song which opens the set for the pair’s live performances, for the foreseeable future and it’s easy to see why…it’s just oozing with atmosphere!

Overall, this EP is an eclectic mix of songs, from the unashamedly feel-good pop qualities of lead single ‘Let’s Stay In Bed All Day’ to the slightly more chaotic and almost grungy moments found in ‘Sweet Time’. I particularly love the energy and catchiness of ‘You’re The Drug’ (which could easily be another single), whilst both ‘A Wilder Heart’ and ‘I Know That I Can Change’ are emotionally charged and ascend to euphoric climaxes. My only criticism of the EP is the fact that ‘I Don’t Ever Want To Live Without You’ feels a little like an interlude (though it’s still a track which remains true to the essence of the band). That, paired with the opening track being more of an intro, you’ve essentially got 5 brilliant, new, sing-a-long tracks. It’s still a great release though and I’m certainly left intrigued to hear the second part of the album, around March next year.

The quality of the production throughout is remarkable and it’s a really comprehensive collection of tracks. Towards the end of ‘You’re The Drug’ there is an incredible break in the beat and just when you think it’s going to drop back in (as is predictable in so many songs), it doesn’t…it keeps you waiting and I love the originality of this! The calming, break in ‘Sweet Time’ is bewitching and melodic with it’s acoustic guitar, synths and falsetto vocals, right before it kicks back in to the heavy guitars and punchy chorus. Lastly, the delicate way ‘I Know That I Can Change’ begins with it’s atmospheric sounds and gradually becomes a massive stadium-filling anthem – it is just the perfect way to close the EP.

This is undoubtedly a brilliant release from the pair and certainly doesn’t disappoint. It may have been a couple of years since their debut album but it’s clear they have spent time working on their songwriting and developing their style. It’s also nice to see that despite a string of stand-alone singles, they haven’t just piled them onto this EP, to pad it out. It’s a beautiful release, crafted with major love and fine attention to detail.

Rating
4


‘A Mind Like The Tide, Pt. 1’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/a-mind-like-the-tide-pt-1/id1295669547


‘A Mind Like The Tide, Pt. 1’ on Spotify

Let’s Stay In Bed All Day (Official Audio Video)


Hopefully you have enjoyed our review of Prides‘ latest EP release! What are your personal thoughts of the EP? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or via our social media and don’t forget to share this think. Thanks 😀


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

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#FeelGoodFriday: Prides – ‘Away With The Night’


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As you probably know by now, I’m a huge fan of Prides and their latest single is no exception.

‘Away With The Night’ is incredible! Pure indie pop perfection at its best.

This band are remarkable and just go from strength to strength; surely this signals a second album on the way?!

What are your thoughts of their latest release? Are you excited for a potential second album? Read our interview with the band – here!

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Away With The Night’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/away-with-the-night-single/id1200831383


#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Prides / #TunefulTuesday: Prides – ‘Are You Ready?’


   

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‘Are You Ready?’

Having recently become a duo, Prides are back with their incredibly catchy and attention-grabbing single, ‘Are You Ready?’

As big supporters of the Scottish indie-pop pair, we have been left feeling very excited and in anticipation for their upcoming album release; especially if this new song is anything to go by! The band have maintained their signature sound whilst intertwining it with echoing guitars and beautifully powerful vocal melodies. It’s passionate and intense whilst still remaining pop at the core – I guess you could call it mature pop!

It’s just one heck of a good song…well done guys…bring on LP2!


The Interview

We got the opportunity to catch up with the band, about their feelings on recording their second album, what they’re listening to right now, and found out about a scary experience they had! Here’s what they had to say…

1. What’s it like going to write a second album? Do you feel there is a lot of pressure to make it as successful as the first?
It’s actually felt like the pressure is off a little bit! It feels like we have an amazing amount of support to just be ourselves, and to write the music that we want to write. It’s actually been a hell of a lot of fun.

2. How is the writing and recording of your second album going? Have you got a release date or title yet?
At the moment we just have a long list of songs, but we’re hoping to have things tidied up by the end of the year. No official title or date yet, but we’re not far off!

3. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to each of you, either whilst in the band, or in life?
Life’s too difficult to worry about being embarrassed.

4. What really grinds your gears?
People who expect for things to be handed to them.

5. Is there anything other than music you’re really passionate about?
Love, books, films, friends, family, trees and kittens.

6. What music have you been listening to most recently? Have you got a favourite song right now?
Bon Iver, Dua Lipa and The Innocence Mission. Our fave song just now is ‘Old Friends’ by Pinegrove.

7. Has anything really scary ever happened to you on tour? If so, what?
We once drove down an icy mountain in the dark in the French Alps. It really felt like we were going to go over the edge and plummet to our doom. And then someone was sick. Not a great day.

8. Have either of you got any disgusting habits?
No, we’re the embodiment of perfection.

9. What is your usual process for writing and recording? And where do you take your inspirations for songs from?
It’s nothing overly complicated. We tend to write and record at the same time, we take it in turns shouting ideas at each other, and slowly build the framework of the song. All the songs are inspired by moments in my life, thrown brazenly onto page.

10. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Wear sunscreen.

It was fantastic to hear from the band and I’m so excited to have had this opportunity. Special thanks to the guys for taking the time to take part in the interview and to Joly for setting it up for me!

What are your thoughts on Prides’ newest release? Has it got you excited for their upcoming, second album release? What’s your favourite Prides song so far? Please leave your thoughts, comments or own #TunefulTuesday suggestions in a comment below or hit us up via our social media accounts.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Are You Ready?’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/are-you-ready/id1153704745?i=1153705066



Enjoyed this? Check out our other interviews with:

Joe Ragosta from Patent Pending

Ali Tabatabaee from Zebrahead

Frankmusik

Lucy Spraggan

David Ford

Chris Bourne

Race The Horizon

Life Of Dillon

Platnum

Skip from Almost July

Tom Ryder


 

#Two4Tunesday: Britney Spears – ‘Pretty Girls’ featuring Iggy Azalea & Prides – ‘Higher Love’

This week’s #Two4Tunesday see’s the return of pop sensation Britney Spears and new single from Scottish synthpop band, Prides!


Britney Spears & Iggy Azalea Banner

To start, let’s look at pop princess, Britney Spears‘ new track, Pretty Girls, featuring Oz rapper, Iggy Azalea! As is becoming so current, this song also draws on 80s sounds, with a modern twist – it’s a mixture of electro-hop and trap (808-fuelled music)

Britney Spears has set up residency in Las Vegas and been quiet since her 2013 album, Britney Jean, but this song sees her triumphant return. I am sure that this song will be a hit, especially as Iggy Azalea is flavour of the month right now.

The video also has a very clear, fun 80s vibe, with big hair, bright colourful earnings and crop-tops galore, judging by the photos which have been released from the video shoot. It is rumoured that the video will be released on 13th May 2015.


Pretty Girls is due for UK release on 14th June 2015 and I’m certain it will be a huge hit for the pair! Pre-order your digital copy now, on iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/pretty-girls-single/id990918836


Britney Spears – ‘Pretty Girls’ featuring Iggy Azalea


Prides Banner

Our second selection is Scottish synthpop trio, Prides. The band formed in 2013 and have gone on to release a handful of singles, their most recent being this song, Higher Love.

Some of their songs have also been synced with the likes of FIFA 15 and Sourz.

There’s not much to say about this relatively new band, except enjoy this song and look out for them in the future!


Go grab a digital copy of Prides’ new single, out now on iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/higher-love-single/id973095772


Prides – ‘Higher Love’


So there’s another #Two4Tunesday for you all! Please leave a comment below with your two favourite tracks this week, and also share the link to this post on your social media accounts. Thanks for all your continued support!

Matt – Muzik Speaks