ALBUM REVIEW: OUTSIDERS BY GNARWOLVES

By Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

There has been a lot of speculation recently about whether punk is dead. Even people like Frank Carter, best known for his punk discography in the bands Gallows and Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes has said that “grime is the new punk” and that punk is a dying art. However, this doesn’t feel like the full picture: bands like the UK’s very own Gnarwolves bring this punch and DIY sound that is very much needed in the scene, making for a totally refreshing listen every time.

Outsiders, easily Gnarwolves’ darkest record to date, seems the most grown up. There is this aura about the album that feels cathartic with the songs coming across as if they were written as an escape. The lead single Wires shows this from the get-go as although they sound different and changed, it wasn’t due to a sense of “boys we really need to switch up our sound“, merely it is just more mature. The album is still their classic DIY punk but also has features, like song structure for example, that is reminiscent of bands like Basement.

Gnarwolves prove themselves on Outsiders that they aren’t a one-trick pony with only songs about getting drunk and high with their mates. Thom Weeks shows a deeper more personal side. Highlighted by the almost slow-burner (in comparison to a lot of their other songs, even on this album) Talking To Your Ghost, talking about “seeing people fall apart” and seems like an anthem for people to relate to. It would be stupid not to mention how much of a belter Shut Up is at the end of the album, an incredible piece of work and one that’ll be getting screamed back in their faces live soon! They prove that being ‘outsiders’ is a thing people will go through and that life goes on.

Outsiders makes you wanna be the kid who is stage-diving off the stage, crowd surfing and moshing but also makes you feel nostalgic: it leads you to think about your life and all the friends you miss, making you want to invite them back for a house party. It’s a massive mixture of happy, sad and gorgeous. Some of the chord choices resonate well, the slower attack on some of the songs and again, the personal feel with the lyrics.

If you like punk, if you want to transition into punk, if you’re having a good day, if you want something to cry too or if you want something to drive around late at night and think about life, this is the album for you. A near faultless venture from the Gnarwolves boys.

9/10


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EP REVIEW: FOSTER THE PEOPLE – III

By Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

In 2017, seeing the announcement that Foster The People had released new music was a surprise to say the least. Their songs featured heavily in the early 2010’s following the success of their debut, especially in the sport-gaming scene with the likes of FIFA and SSX matching up perfectly with their zesty pop-indie rock tunes. The gorgeous blend of indie-rock and luscious pop make this band something that you might have heard before, attempted by someone else, but not executed quite as successfully. The EP feature 3 songs from their upcoming untitled album that will be released in the summer.

The new singles Pay The Man, Doing It For The Money and S.H.C are fabulous additions to the already impressive collection of music. The sound has evolved but not changed enough for it to be completely different. Many have suspected that a few of these songs would be influenced by the inauguration of a certain American President as this band are heavy supporters of Bernie Sanders in the run-up to the election.


Pay The Man opens with a synth-brass section that almost takes a page out of Run The Jewels book and the song evolves to sort of a sing-rap song about ‘the system’ and ‘the man’ being an image of power that controls us all. The mention of ‘the man’ has been approached a lot in the styles of music like rock and punk music so it’s interesting to see it approached in indie-pop, but this band being very politically involved over the last 2 years I’m not surprised. It’s a strong opening to the EP, no doubt setting the tone for the album.

8/10


Doing It For The Money sees Foster The People use a new style of drums influenced by trap music and the chorus of this song being very big spacey and anthem-like. Contrary to the album title, the idea of this song is that they AREN’T doing it for the money. They’re still making music and proving themselves saying “We are still here”. This song also feels like a call out to all people to stand up for what you believe in and don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Very empowering and the gorgeous mixing and instrumentation on the track really help it. The way the band changes into the bridge from the second chorus is very reminiscent of their two other albums, solidifying that they hadn’t lost their way in experimenting.

8/10


S.H.C (Secret Hearts Club) brings the indie guitar back and as soon as this song starts up, you’ll be taken aback by a bombardment of nostalgia. This song sees Mark Foster expressing about how the world is in a dark place right now but he wants to “live his life again” and it almost seems as if he is saying that he can live his life again through his music. Mark stated this when the EP was released: “One of my favorite things about music is that it’s unifying. We wrote these songs to reflect joy in a time where people have needed it more than ever and we thought it was a good time to share them with you.” which further proves this point. 

9/10


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ALBUM REVIEW: YOU ARE WE – WHILE SHE SLEEPS

DISCLAIMER: Unlike other publications, we pride ourselves on our transparency. As such, it should be known the author of this piece has pledged to the funding of this album though this has not hindered the critical nature of this review.

By Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

My first ever experience of While She Sleeps was around the release of their debut album This Is The Six, where I was in a toss up deciding whether to buy the debut or Atlas by Parkway Drive. I decided on This Is The Six and I’ve never made a better choice. Angry, politically charged and head strong, the boys in While She Sleeps have grown a lot since the days of their debut, but haven’t lost any of their spark.

The new album You Are We is special. It’s special because it was crowdfunded by fans (me being one of them, the signed vinyl is gorgeous) on the website PledgeMusic and recorded the album in their own converted barn. With this, they have managed to pour more soul into their music, bearing in mind I didn’t think it was possible to be able to put ANY MORE soul into their projects, but they have floored me. You Are We is rich with riffs, massive breakdowns, meaningful lyrics and more singing from guitarist Mat Welsh which makes this album stand out from the others. Another excellent thing about this album is that it was released independently giving them so much more freedom and space to create something amazing, and they did.

The opening and title track You Are We has won its way into my top 3 While She Sleeps songs. The song starts with the familiar sound of Mat Welsh’s guitar strings leading into one hell of an explosive entrance from Loz Taylor and a breakdown that I’d lose my mind to live. Another highlight of the album is Silence Speaks featuring the infamous Oli Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon. The guitar melody over the gang-style vocals of the chorus make me melt and Oli’s addition to the song isn’t too much or too little and it’s very welcome. On the first listen through I didn’t connect with the songs Wide Awake or Steal the Sun as much as the rest of the album, but after listening again all the songs compliment each other in a way that I personally don’t think they have achieved before. There is fire behind every chord, lyric and scream, much like their second album Brainwashed had, but this album feels more personal. Other songs that have special mentions from me are Feel, the latest single which is massive and also Revolt, also massive.

Being a long time Sleeps fan, this was one of my highly anticipated albums and I’ve not been disappointed. The lead single Civil Isolation filled me with so much hope that this album would be another classic and they have shown the world how metal should be done, how metal should be performed and how it should be presented. I used to associate This Is The Six with the season of winter, as the album was harsh, dark and angry, much like the weather around me and that’s what I think I love about You Are We, because I feel warm.

So far the album has done well, reaching the 6th best selling album on iTunes on the first day of release, which is very impressive for a metal album, let alone an independently released metal album. Like I said earlier, they haven’t lost any of their spark yet have grown and refined their style. If you like metal, you’ll love this album, no doubts about it. (then when you’re done with this album, backtrack and get the rest, you won’t regret it)

9.5/10


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LOOKING BACK AT…CHERRY BOMB by TYLER THE CREATOR

By Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

I got into Tyler, the Creator through his third album Wolf. The story-telling and large concept of Tyler having loads of different characters he raps through drew me into his world and his music and I backtracked and listened to it all. Finding out his amazing talent of producing, playing loads of instruments and producing his albums almost entirely alone, while putting his own artist interpretation on everything was something I’ve always admired. 2 years ago he released CHERRY BOMB, and I had high expectations. Said to be based about the drive to the movie theater to see a movie, I was very intrigued to see how would play out.

The two lead singles from the album, the first track DEATHCAMP, and tenth track FUCKING YOUNG/PERFECT were good indications of how the album was gonna sound overall. I was very excited by DEATHCAMP as a large majority of his music before this album was hip-hop based and electronic, but having the opening chords to the album from an electric guitar got me really excited. The loud angry lyrics were back and I knew it was going to be a good album from the first few lines. Comparisons to Yeezus and Death Grips were unavoidable due to the brashness and unfiltered nature of the sound but that isn’t exactly a negative. DEATHCAMP was added to his anthem style songs that performed live would be intense!

FUCKING YOUNG/PERFECT on the other hand replaces the flashiness with a more chilled out and heartwarming aesthetic, describing this girl he fell in love who he thought was just too young for him, regardless of that fact she’s faultless in Tyler’s eyes. Having both a soft and hard hitting songs is something I always enjoy from an artist because you can see their full potential from a variety of different angles, something that the Odd Future ringleader has displayed repeatedly during his career (after all, we got Answer on the same album as Domo 23).

I was pumped for this album to come out, based on the first few songs, so when the album came out I listened to it on repeat for weeks: considering it released bang near the end of Spring, it was perfectly timed to dictate my summer listening. Playing it at parties with friends only certified that Tyler still had what it takes to orchestrate a good time. Unlike some of Tyler’s songs, the tracks that appear on Cherry Bomb still stand strong, especially the more instrumentally dense tracks like 2SEATER and FIND YOUR WINGS with the latter being the underlining meaning of the whole album. Tyler posted this in 2014, before the album came out, talking about being yourself, embracing yourself and loving yourself:

Tyler has always been brash, loud and offensive, with lyrics about rape, murder and sexual actions (which were all just through a character’s voice in his narrative!!) and that has always landed him in bad water with the media eg. being banned from performing in the UK and Australia. However, all the controversy in a way only made him a bigger star. It hasn’t put a break on his successful stab into the fashion industry with his clothing line GOLFWANG though he hasn’t given up on the music, most recently featuring on Frank Ocean’s new track Biking. The album as a whole is really good in my eyes.

However, sometimes it’s hard to hear his vocals and I know he has said the reason being is that ‘thats how I wanted to mix it so I did’ which I respect. Some of the songs haven’t carried over too well over these past two years but I’m still listening to most of the album and was only rapping along to DEATHCAMP the other night at a house party. Here’s to hoping he releases more music soon, and the ban gets lifted or ends so I can get freaky at his shows!

7.5/10


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ALBUM REVIEW: GREATEST HITS by REMO DRIVE

By Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

What’s exciting about music in this day and age is that no matter where you are, music will be there with you. Whether you’re surfing youtube or watching videos on Facebook, an advert might pop up or the song in the background of the video picks you fancy. Streaming services, besides the small amount of money the artist gets, are amazing for finding new bands/artists.

Me stumbling across Remo Drive’s debut album Greatest Hits is an example of one of these times. Having an eclectic music taste, I am always up for listening to new things, a lot of the time brought in by the album cover and/or band name and giving them a taste. The opening track Art School really sets the tone for the rest of this very emo, post-punk album, and what a debut album it is.

Distorted guitars and angry drums are something you’ll find when searching for an album or band in the emo sub-genre, but Remo Drive throw in drum patterns and bass lines you don’t expect from a band with this sound. Music evolves and changes which is one of the most beautiful things about it but not often do you come across something new and exciting that blends so well together without it sounding like it’s trying too hard to be different. A good example of this is in the song Hunting For Sport, where you expect the song to continue along the ‘emo anthem’ style and it surprises you with a small bass line interlude. The ending as well, expecting it to finish and be over but stops and starts with such ease.

One of the leading singles from Greatest Hits is Yer Killin’ Me which sounds like it has so many influences. Instrumentation from the intro reminds me of bands like Gnarwolves or a heavier The Front Bottoms, the middle of the song sounds like it was influenced by Foals, the end sounding NOTHING like the rest of the song and vocal lines influences from bands like FIDLAR. However, the song still breaks down to be an emo anthem in the end which I do identify as the new band I’m really starting to fall in love with. There aren’t many bands who could throw all of that into an album, let alone one song, but make it sound so effortless and downright beautiful.

This band are definitely one to watch and are worth getting very excited about to see what they do next. This album will definitely be going into my favourites from the year playlist. It is beyond worth a listen if you’re a fan of bands like Basement and Creeper.

8/10


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ALBUM(?) REVIEW: More Life by Drake

By Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)
 
Change of direction and sound is something that is always argued about in the world of music, dividing and/or bringing in new fans. Drake’s ‘More Life’ is an album that is definitely dividing audiences, possibly pushing away his older fans but bring new fans in in the thousands. More Life is a dancehall dominated playlist, influence presumably from the success of 2 of the lead singles (One Dance and Too Good feat. Rihanna) from Drake’s last album Views. The playlist also includes the moody nocturnal vibe that Drake always brings to the table.
 
 

 
The first thing that’ll attract you to More Life, besides the fact Drake is one of the biggest artists around in this modern day, was the features. Seeing names like Giggs and Skepta will bring people in from the other side of the pond, Drake representing his connection to Boy Better Know (Skepta’s record label) and it gives grime more of an opportunity to show its face in the United States. Other features that attracted me was the new voice of soul, Jorja Smith, big auto-tune rappers like Young Thug and Travis Scott and of course the infamous Kanye West.
 
Still, More Life seems very safe. Lots of singing from Drake himself, pushing his pop-rap style further into the mainstream, and lots of the beats are based off the dancehall style that he was so successful with. Some tracks are easy listening, nice to put on in the background. If I played some of these songs at a party, I wouldn’t piss anyone off. I played some of the tracks to my mum, someone who’s not a fan of anything rap, and she loved it. Not that that’s a bad thing, but considering 2 years ago songs like Energy and Legend being two huge hits from the most recent album of the time If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late shows how Drake, even 2 years down the line, has migrated most of his attention to the songs you could play in mainstream clubs.
 
Image result for drake more life
 
Regardless of this, it’s a good playlist.  Drake pulls a lot of emotion out on some of these songs, talking further into the struggles of fame on the song Do Not Disturb with lines like ‘Can’t describe what my life is like when she asks about it, scary whenever I close my eyes at night, wakin’ up to public statements about my private life’, describing how his life has got so busy he can’t even talk about what he does anymore and is also scared of public attention. Also showing heartbreak and loss on the song Lose You and the lead single from the playlist being Fake Love about fake friends.
 
The other thing that interests me about this playlist is that some of the features have their own tracks, a feature that artists like Frank Ocean and Kanye West have done on their own respected albums. Sampha and Skepta throw their own styles into the mix, which is possibly why the album is described as a playlist. In addition to this, the samples used for some of the songs are out of the blue, like some of the soundtrack from the 2006 video game Sonic The Hedgehog used in the song KMT and samples J-Lo’s ‘If You Had My Love’ on Teenage Fever’ which is slamming.
 
Overall the album has struck a chord with me more than Views did. Besides the dancehall, the album is, for the most part, darker; however some of the songs are forgetful, maybe throwing 22 songs in is stretching it a bit thin.  It does feel quite like a B-Side album of songs that didn’t make Views but it’s still pretty solid. 

7/10

BEST TRACKS: Passionfruit, 4422, Do Not Disturb, Can’t Have Everything, Blem, Fake Love and Lose You.


Bar a few filler tracks, a solid effort filled with great features and cracking production

7/10 – Jake Cordiner (@jjjaketh)

Thankfully making up for the disappointment that was Views, the variety in sound and solid features is sadly brought down by a handful of filler tracks.

7/10 – Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)


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TRACK REVIEW: Chanel by Frank Ocean

By Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

Christopher Breaux, more know to the world as Frank Ocean, has once again surprised the world with more glorious music. The latest addition to his discography is the dreamy Chanel, which debuted on Apple Music’s main radio channel Beats 1 during the second episode of Ocean’s own show blonded RADIO. Played on repeat for nearly an hour, the world was shook by this sudden addition to the era of Blonde.

Even though Chanel is suspected to have been written post-Blonde it still plays with the same themes, a lack of conventional ‘verse-chorus-verse’ song writing (with the exception of returning lyrics and motifs) and lush instrumentation. The most interesting part about this song is that even thought it was written within a year of the release of Blonde, I personally feel like it wouldn’t fit on the last album. It seems Ocean has almost evolved musically in the last year, possibly influenced by the latest feature he had appeared on, Slide by Calvin Harris.

 

The song from the start is a beautiful mix of piano, bass and jazz-influenced percussion, (drums and percussion being absent for the majority of Blonde, showing a progression in instrumentation). Layered vocals is a key focus point of Ocean’s music, giving that fuller sound and the etherial backing vocals rich with reverb drift straight through you. Lots of references about ‘new money’ and being rich also hint to the song being written post-Blonde, as he released his second album independently and made lots because of it. Ocean has more of a rapping tone to his voice for a majority of this song too which hasn’t been touched on much since Super Rich Kids from his debut album Channel Orange, which is refreshing. Some lyrics seem slightly mumbled and thrown away at some point which is the only downside, but it’s very minor. 

What Frank has always excelled at is pouring his personal life and feelings into his music without seemingly pushing it down your throat, and Chanel is no different. Back in 2012, Ocean came out as bisexual, which was a big moment for the Hip-Hop/RnB scene, also having appeared in many Odd Future songs (Odd Future being known for their brash, offensive lyrics, of which sometimes included homosexual slurs), it came to a bit of a shock for the world but was followed with incredible support. 

The returning motif of the song is that Ocean “can see both side like Chanel”, referring to the Chanel emblem and hinting to his bi-sexuality. The first line “My guy pretty like a girl” is again still showing the world it’s okay to be able to talk about these issues such as homophobia, which is why many have always appreciated Ocean as an artist, as he’s not afraid to take big risks, changing the game and pushing the boundaries of conventional song writing. 

 

9/10 


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