#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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#FeelGoodFriday: Rina Sawayama – ‘LUCID’

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Rina Sawayama is a Japanese-British singer-songwriter and model based in London who released her first EP in 2017. After signing to Dirty Hit, she released her debut studio album, Sawayama, in 2020.

Produced by hitmaker, BloodPop, ‘LUCID’ is a synthpop anthem that just begs to be danced to and sees Sawayama take on a different, more commercial sound to the rest of her debut album.

The song is fairly mainstream with its dance-pop beat and is certain to propel her more into the limelight as a pop songstress. Comparisons have been made to the likes of Lady Gaga and her 2020 album, Chromatica (which was also produced by BloodPop).

The music video is fun too, featuring Sawayama performing in an other-worldly environment alongside a reflection of herself, with a short behind-the-scenes look at the end of it.

What are your thoughts of this singer-songwriter? Got a #FeelGoodFriday 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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‘LUCID’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/lucid/1540687113?i=1540687503


#MellowMonday: Gabrielle Aplin – ‘When The Lights Go Out’

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Gabrielle Aplin is an English singer-songwriter who amassed a following after uploading a series of acoustic music covers to YouTube, before signing to Parlophone in February 2012.

Her style falls anywhere from folk and indie rock to synthpop, with her latest single, ‘When The Lights Go Out’, being a mellow, synth-driven anthem.

This particular song was written shortly after the release of her latest album, Dear Happy. Aplin says, “I wanted to make a song that felt like a hug that you can also dance to and I’m considering it the song that closes the Dear Happy book.”

It does just that – it manages to be a somewhat upbeat record that you can have a boogie too, whilst also being something mellow, easy listening and like the closing of the Dear Happy chapter in her career. It’s a brilliant amalgamation of happiness and calmness and is mellow enough to be a great #MellowMonday start to the week.

I can’t get enough of this track right now!

What are your thoughts of this singer-songwriter’s latest single? Do you have a #MellowMonday 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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‘When The Lights Go Out’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/when-the-lights-go-out-single/1543733734


#MellowMonday: Jolé – ‘Alpine Green’

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Jolè (aka Joshua Oliver) first arrived on the scene in early 2016 with his breathtaking brand of folk music. It wasn’t unil 2019 that he released his self-titled debut album, Jolé, on which, the singer-songwriter displayed his talents and abilities to use both electric and acoustic folk to tell personal tales, going on to amass over 2 million streams of the record.

Now, the London singer-songwriter is back with the lead single from his forthcoming Silver Lake EP (out 21st August 2020). ‘Alpine Green’ perfectly captures the power of memory, with this poetic folk song about heartache and longing for someone lost.

This is a track that will not only resonate with those who have lost a loved one but also with those who have experienced profound disconnection from family and friends during the coronavirus pandemic. Its composition is beautiful and sound is nostalgic – a true folk masterpiece, perfect for #MellowMonday.

Unfortunately, no music video exists for this track just yet, but we’ll be sure to keep you updated if one is released – if one were to exist though, I imagine something truly cinematic and beautiful to reflect the imagery of the lyrics. What do you invisage?

What are your thoughts of this singer-songwriter’s latest single? Do you have a #MellowMonday 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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‘Alpine Green’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/alpine-green-single/1518095638


Jolé · Alpine Green

#FeelGoodFriday: Big Wild – ‘Touch’

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Singer, songwriter and producer Big Wild (aka Jackson Stell) is back with his first new music since his 2019 debut album, Superdream, in the form of brand new single, ‘Touch’. This time he has taken on a new edge with a blend of almost western movie soundtrack vibes and electronic production, creating something perfect for Feel-Good Friday.

‘Touch’ is a disco-infused, bright indie single with seriously catchy pop undertones that really increase the rich, colourful emotion that Big Wild has become known for.

Although it was written before the current coronavirus pandemic, the song is about longing for a loved one – something that will probably resonate all too well with people during lockdown.

Speaking on the new single, Stell added: “I’m sure with the current state of the world ‘Touch’ will take on a different meaning than I intended but that’s the best part of writing music, seeing where a song goes. I can’t claim any foresight, but the feeling of deep longing and desire is universal. It’s interesting because I was writing from a personal place but this theme is something we’re feeling on a societal level right now. People need connection.”

The lyric video suits this song perfectly too with it’s spaghetti western edge to it. No music video has been released as yet.

What are your thoughts of this producer’s latest single? Do you have a #FeelGoodFriday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt Wright – Muzik Speaks
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‘Touch’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/touch-single/1501740551


#Review: Pick It Up – Ska in the 90s

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Following the success of his previous feature documentary (Here’s to Life: The Story of the Refreshments), director, Taylor Morden – an on-and-off trumpet player in ska bands for over 20 years – has returned to the world of ska to help bring the story of 90s ska to the masses. With a very successful Kickstarter campaign, the documentary took full flight and could not have been better produced, more thorough or more interesting to watch. Here’s what we had to say about it…

Pick It Up! Cover

From the very start, there are some wonderful aspects to this film, that instantly jump out at the viewer. Firstly, there is the fantastic animation weaving its way seemlessly throughout the documentary – some of it flows over footage of the various interviewees and other sections are entirely animated – but it all works so well! Secondly, is the truly amazing cast of stars from the genre, talking about their experiences with anecdotes and opinions that  they lived through during the ska scene in the 90s. Lastly, is the fact that the film is entirely narrated by Tim Armstrong (best known as the singer/guitarist for the punk rock band Rancid, and before that, the ska band, Operation Ivy – considered instrumental for the genre, despite only ever releasing one album).

But, what is ska?
Well, a lot of the cast of the film, brilliantly sum it up as “fast reggae with horns”.

Near the beginning of the film, we’re treated to a journey through the origins of ska, back in the 1950s, with a beautifully descriptive piece about what nights of ska music would have been like in its native Jamaica and then how it made its way over to the UK, settling in places like Brixton, Notting Hill and Coventry and on from there. This whole segment is accompanied by that wonderful animation, to bring it to life. It’s also interesting to know that reggae music actually wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for ska music being slowed down, and that also two-tone and ska punk both found their origins in ska.

This is a truly engaging film that is easy yet interesting to watch. It’s split into sections, looking at specific aspects of the genre like “skanking” (the very limb-orientated dance); the horn section (in particular, how in magazine photos they would often hold their horns to show it’s a ska band); and the DIY ethic of the genre – from posters to merchandise, bands would do pretty much everything themselves, such as designing logos, posters for shows and more, as cheaply as possible.

It’s fascinating that many consider 90s ska to have been brought to the forefront of the mainstream market due to No Doubt signing to a major label (Interscope Records) and releasing their hit album, Tragic Kingdom – which interestingly wasn’t very ska in style but due to their roots in the genre, helped highlight it to the masses.

I can’t recommend this documentary highly enough – whether you’re into ska or not, if you’re interested in music, this is a film you can learn a lot from.

We also learn that others had a big impact on the genre – Goldfinger were entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for playing 385 gigs in a single year; The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ made an appearance in the cult movie, Clueless; and the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games introduced ska to a new generation too.

The film looks further into the “ska scene” and how instrumental live shows were, not only for bands and their friendships but the fans and creating shared experiences too. Additionally, despite touring extensively, money for ska bands was often in short supply due to the number of members in a band, but often small indie labels would release compilation CDs to showcase some of their band’s best work, to generate further interest in them. A lot of these smaller indie labels would operate as mail order services.

One of the most postive and interesting things about ska is the unity within the genre – black and white people would work in bands together, in harmony, so if anyone demonstrated any racism at shows, bands wouldn’t stand for it, however fights would frequently break out at shows as a result. This is one of the main reasons that the black and white checkers became a thing of ska. Also, there are a fair few women in genre and they address how these women would often have to hold their own with their strong characters and no-nonsense attitudes.

Unfortunately, by the turn of the millennium, as major labels had almost made ska a parody of itself, the ska bubble burst and the scene had become saturated with similar bands. As a result, people started to turn their backs to it and bands themselves started adapting to new sounds and dropping their horn sections.

There will always be a subculture for ska – just like with punk rock – but it’s not as mainstream as it was in the 90s. However, there is a bit of nostalgia resurge for ska at the moment (as well as 90s music in general), so whilst bands like Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish are making new music ,they have a lot of fans reliving their youths by coming to shows. That said, across Mexico, Japan and Europe there is still a lot of love for ska and there’s hope for a ska revival in the near future, as the world could use some positivity right now.

I can’t recommend this documentary highly enough – whilst I like ska, it’s not a genre I know tons about but whether you’re into it or not, if you’re interested in music, this is a film you can learn a lot from, not only about the genre and it’s origins but from first-hand accounts of the scene during the 1990s, in an engaging and humourous way. Plus, you actually find yourself absorbed in the music itself – in fact I’ve had the playlist from the movie (below) on repeat ever since!

Rating
5


‘Pick It Up! – Ska in the 90s’ is out now and can be ordered/downloaded from the official website – https://www.skamovie.com/shop-1


Listen to the ‘Pick It Up! – Ska in the 90s’ official playlist on Spotify


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! Have you seen this SKAcumentary yet? What did you think of it? 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: Amy Studt – Happiest Girl In The Universe

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Amy Studt is an English singer, songwriter, musician and actress, who first rose to fame in 2002, with the release of her first single, ‘Just A Little Girl’, followed almost a year later, by ‘Misfit’ and eventually her debut album, False Smiles. Though she’s been through ups and downs in the rather perilous music industry, she is now set to release her third studio album, Happiest Girl In The Universe, independently. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Amy Studt - Happiest Girl In The World

If you knew Amy Studt from her debut album, or even 2008’s Paper Made Men, then you might not instantly recognise her now, as this is quite the far cry from her former artist, self.

Following a breakdown in 2009 and a diagnosis of rapid cycling bipolar, it’s amazing to see how this strong woman, has channeled her mental health, feelings and emotions into a brilliantly artistic project.

Whilst at its core, this record is still Amy Studt, she has created something experimental and unassuming pop music. Happiest Girl In The Universe is a much more mature record than some of her previous releases, dealing with some rather deep emotions and intense feelings. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted – think Lana Del Rey’s more depressing moments…turned up to eleven! That said, she’s crafted something special and undoubtedly therapeutic.

Amy Studt has laid herself bare, with raw, heartfelt vocals and honest, painful lyrics detailing how tortured she has been over the past few years.

If you’re like me, this album might even take you two or three sittings to get through, in order to digest the significance of the messages, understand her crippling depression and comprehend the enormity of the topics, as well as embrace the unusual style of music.

Amy Studt has explored her suffering and documented it like an audio diary – without frills attached! She paints vivid, personal pictures in a most cinematic way, occasionally touching upon moments of hope and redemption.

Her voice remains identifiable, with the occasional twinge of The CranberriesDolores O’Riordan. Possibly one of the best songs is ‘Sleepwalker’, on which she demonstrates a wonderful shouted vocal towards the end of the track, with something Kesha (of all people) about it. There’s a lovely rawness that is almost off-key, but it really doesn’t matter due to the intense delivery. She further demonstrates a tortured scream-like vocal on ‘Violently With Love’, showing off just how impressive her voice is.

‘I Was Jesus In Your Veins’ is a wonderfully diverse track, that seems dark and brooding yet switches to a light-hearted chorus, whilst ‘Let The Music Play’ has a rather twisted-sounding yet catchy chorus.

‘The Water’ stands out for being part spoken word poem, part song, accompanied by a chaotic, hypnotic and rather intense instrumental. Whilst ‘One Is The Only Number’ has haunting, screaming guitars in the background, beautiful falsetto vocals and an underlying, heavy beat, like the pounding of a primal drum on the way to the gallows. Another wonderful track is the rather whispery ‘Troubles Coming In’.

Haunting and haunted are probably the two best words to describe Happiest Girl In The Universe. Amy Studt has laid herself bare, with raw, heartfelt vocals and honest, painful lyrics detailing how tortured she has been over the past few years, creating something mysterious and wonderfully dark, yet utterly captivating. I hope this can put to bed a difficult chapter in her life and that she continues to make music from here – I know I’ll be listening!

Rating
4


‘Happiest Girl In The Universe’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/happiest-girl-in-the-universe/1479696794


Happiest Girl In The Universe on Spotify

Let The Music Play (Official Video)

Overdose (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Amy’s latest 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.


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

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#WildCardWednesday: Misha B – ‘Letter To My Sistars’

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Misha B is finally back with her latest single, ‘Letter To My Sistars’, and I couldn’t be happier to see her return!

The latest song from the ex-X Factor artist has a definitive, old-school R&B / Hip Hop vibe with an understated beatbox intro, vinyl-tinted beats and clean guitar melodies throughout, topped off with some wonderfully raw and effortless vocal harmonies.

‘Letter To My Sistars’ is a strong departure from her post-X Factor days yet still remains polished and true to herself. It’s a female empowerment track about looking out for each other (Don’t mess – “If you put a finger on my sister, guaranteed your head pop, pop, pop just like blister”); an urban anthem at its best.

The video for the track is fun too – seeing Misha B performing alongside strong female characters in and around the urban environment but also has narrative segments depicting Misha as a child, with one of her “sistars”, as referenced in the track. Go check it out, below.

I’m super excited for this return and hope that maybe this will signal an upcoming debut album?! We can only hope!

What are your thoughts of Misha B’s latest release? Are you as pleased to see her back, as we are? Do you have a #WildCardWednesday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Letter To My Sistars’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/letter-to-my-sistars-single/1467045615


#TunefulTuesday: Will Joseph Cook – ‘Hey Brother’

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It’s been a couple of years now since Will Joseph Cook released his debut album, Sweet Dreamer, but the catchy indie-pop, anthem-writer is back with a brand new single… and it would appear he’s parted ways with Atlantic Records.

His latest offering, ‘Hey Brother’, comes following a witty video announcement hinting not only of this single release, but a forthcoming album too!

‘Hey Brother’ is still distinctly Will Joseph Cook – his ethereal high vocals in the choruses are married with his more apathetic tones in the verses. One thing’s for sure, his voice remains unique and captivating, as ever.

This track also demonstrates his marvellous songwriting talent, as he uses a simplistic yet catchy guitar melody and loops it, bringing it in and out of the focus, whilst also continually layering up the track to bring it to a great, harmony-driven climax.

This layering is reflected in the music video for the track too, which sees multiple versions of the singer appearing throughout. He’s not one to settle for something visually drab and so this too shows that he’s remaining true to his artistic nature, once again showing how powerful it can be when coupling music and interesting visuals. Check it out below!

What are your thoughts of this indie singer-songwriter’s latest single? Do you have your own #TunefulTuesday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Hey Brother’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/hey-brother-single/1469264663


#WildCardWednesday: Siamese – ‘B.A.N.A.N.A.S’

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

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

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

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

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

What are your thoughts of this singer-songwriter? Got a #WildCard Wednesday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘B.A.N.A.N.A.S’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/ru/album/b-a-n-a-n-a-s/1455133470?i=1455133474&l=en