The gap between Billy Talent’s sixth and fifth albums has been double the length of any previous inter-album gaps. Of course, the pandemic will have played a role in the delay but it’s finally time to hear the band follow up the very impressive ‘Afraid of Heights’.
‘Crisis Of Faith’ starts with ‘Forgiveness I + II’ which initially emerged back in 2019 and showed a slight stylistic change for the band. Soon thereafter though the familiar sound of the band takes over with ‘Reckless Paradise’ and ‘I Beg To Differ (This Will Get Better)’ close behind.
Over the course of their previous five albums, Billy Talent have proven themselves to be incredibly and consistently prolific in terms of quality. The pre-release singles including Rivers Cuomo collaboration ‘End Of Me’ ensured fans had no crisis of faith in the bands ability to deliver catchy and punchy punk rock, and the album as a whole repays that faith.
This album certainly feels like the band are stretching their legs and trying new things, but without giving up what has won them a legion of dedicated fans. It’s always refreshing when a band is willing to test themselves and also commendable when a band tries to please their fans. ‘Crisis Of Faith’, is one of those rare albums that manages to find that middle ground and do both.
It truly is remarkable how Billy Talent are able to maintain a stream of such quality releases. ‘Crisis Of Faith’ manages to deliver on any fan expectations and reassures that despite the gap in time the band remain as relevant now as a decade ago.
Yard Act is a name that you would likely have seen at some point recently. After all, they have appeared on many ‘ones to watch’ lists and festival line-ups over the past year or so. There hasn’t however been a great deal of material available to check out, until now that is!
‘The Overload’ is the bands debut album and arrives with many eyes on it, so can it live up to the anticipation and expectations?
The title track sets the stall from the very start as the band pin their colours to the mast. It is pretty obvious straight away that this album is a simple statement from Yard Act. They are who they are, do what they do and don’t care about any haters.
Politics, for example has become somewhat of a taboo subject for bands. Nowadays protest songs have been replaced with carefully constructed and wholly inoffensive tracks targeting widespread appeal and commercial success. Thankfully, a number of bands have begun to stick their heads above the parapet in recent times, and Yard Act clearly don’t mind addressing polarising subjects.
Equally the bands sound isn’t an obvious attempt at breaking into the mainstream, it is however incredibly catchy and you’ll find it very hard not to move your body in time with their bouncy post-punk jingles.
Yes, Yard Act are very interesting. ‘The Overload’ almost purposefully avoids taking advantage of the mainstream interest, yet somewhat emerges as a pop masterpiece. When listening to some new music, you sense a decent career, rarely do you think to yourself “these could be huge”, but that is very much the feeling here.
The IDLES phenomenon continues at full pace, and the band commence their latest sold out run of UK dates with not one but four nights at the legendary Brixton Academy. We headed along to nights one and three to witness the brutal majesty of a band hitting their stride.
Each night of their London residency has seen different hand-picked support acts as IDLES curate what isn’t so much a tour but a travelling celebration of community spirit soundtracked by incredible musicians.
Over our two nights we witness wych elm, Wet Leg, Big Joanie and Sinead O Brien all deliver delightful sets to an appreciative and attentive audience. The supports each night help to build the excitement and anticipation for the 90 minutes of musical catharsis to follow.
These shows were originally in support of 2020’s ‘Ultra Mono’, however the prolonged pandemic delays to these shows have unexpectedly resulted in them now supporting a newer fourth album from the band. Yes, ‘CRAWLER’ arrived last year to much adulation and now gets to spread its wings live.
After all, IDLES songs do tend to breathe new air live and morph into different beasts when being delivered with the level of ferocity that IDLES somehow manage to conjure onstage. Over the two nights we attend, the likes of ‘Car Crash’, ‘The Beachland Ballroom’, ‘The Wheel’ and ‘When the Lights Come On’ all shine bright.
WATCH ‘CAR CRASH’ ON YOUTUBE
There are also tracks from ‘Ultra Mono’ which has seen some unfair criticism. ‘Mr. Motivator’, ‘Grounds’, and ‘Reigns’ again all sound massive and fit well with the setlists.
The band change up the setlists each night but fan favourite staples such as ‘Mother’, ‘Divide and Conquer’, ‘Never Fight A Man With A Perm’ and ‘Danny Nedelko’ feature both nights.
IDLES are a next level live band, and with two more albums in their arsenal since their sell out Alexandra Palace date back in 2019, their back catalogue is also now reaching enviable proportions. These factors combined with the passion and energy of their dedicated fanbase ensure that IDLES remain one of the most vital and enjoyable bands gracing stages right now.
‘BRIGHTSIDE’ represents the fourth studio effort from The Lumineers, a band that shot into the popular conscience of music fans with their huge hit ‘Ho Hey’. Since then the profile of the band may have stagnated slightly but their musical output has remained consistently credible.
Call me old fashioned but I certainly can’t help but to feel that their output of four albums in ten years has slowed their momentum somewhat. Yes, the days of yearly album releases are long, long gone but The Lumineers definitely haven’t struck whilst the iron was hot.
If however, the band needed an album to rubberstamp their credentials and to re-establish themselves in the higher echelons of music’s luminaries then ‘BRIGHTSIDE’ could well be it.
WATCH ‘BRIGHTSIDE’ ON YOUTUBE
Starting off with the title track and fellow recent single, ‘A.M. RADIO’, the album instantly showcases the musical talents of Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites at their best. The groups folk stylings underpin two pop songs destined to grace the radio for some time to come.
How this album will be received here in the UK is hard to tell, but if you listen to ‘BRIGHTSIDE’ and close your eyes, you can just picture a long road trip across North America. I can’t imagine this album giving The Lumineers the same level of success here as their debut album did, but it should recapture the hearts of some lapsed fans.
The Lumineers are an interesting prospect, because back in 2012 they looked set to take over the world. That hasn’t happened, but they continue to make beautiful music and perhaps that’s all they want to do. If so, they’ve managed to do exactly that on ‘BRIGHTSIDE’.
THE WOMBATS – FIX YOURSELF, NOT THE WORLD – ALBUM REVIEW
The Wombats continue to defy the laws of popularity when so many of their peers have disappeared from the limelight. The fact that they find themselves somewhat as the house band at the zeitgeist barometer that is Reading & Leeds Festivals proves that the band, who hit the mainstream back in 2007, still resonate with the youth of today.
Despite, scarily, finding themselves nearly two decades into their career, The Wombats seem to have found the fountain of youth. Their fifth album, ‘Fix Yourself, Not the World’ showcases this with a youthful sound that doesn’t sound forced.
Many bands that breakthrough with a youthful sound, struggle as age takes it ugly toll (I’m looking at you Pop Punk!), but I don’t get that sense listening to this album. This is a huge credit to The Wombats for their durability and adaptability.
LISTEN TO ‘IF YOU EVER LEAVE, I’M COMING WITH YOU’ ON YOUTUBE
The Wombats have delivered some incredibly catchy indie pop anthems in their career, and the likes of ‘If You Ever Leave, I’m Coming with You’, ‘Method to the Madness’ and ‘Everything I Love Is Going to Die’ are certainly in that category.
In fact, from start to finish, ‘Fix Yourself, Not the World’ feels fresh and delivers everything you want from a Wombats album. The band hasn’t been the most prolific in their career, but when they do release new music, it’s usually top quality. Think of a football player that doesn’t score very often, but when they do it’s a goal of the season contender!
If you’d have said to me back in 2007 when listening to ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’ that The Wombats would still releasing mainstream albums and taking big slots at massive festivals, I wouldn’t have believed you – but, here we are! Now where is that fountain of youth?
Blood Red Shoes have always had an impressive work ethic, and whilst many of us took a step back during the events of the past eighteen months, they didn’t.
Their sixth studio album, ‘Ghosts On Tape’ was actually recorded in March 2020 but the pandemic has seen the release delayed until now. In the meantime however the band has recorded and released an EP, Laura-Mary has recorded and released a mini-album and started a new Podcast and Steven has been writing and producing a plethora of alternative artists. Not to mention that the duo also run their own label.
So, after almost two years in the vault ‘Ghosts On Tape’ is finally here. Opening with the haunting piano led ‘COMPLY’, the album sets its tone from the start. This is a dark record focusing on the outcasts and outsiders of society.
WATCH ‘MORBID FASCINATION’ ON YOUTUBE
Lead single ‘MORBID FASCINATION’ kicks the album up a notch and helps to lead us down a path of exploration into the psyche of serial killers, a theme played out throughout the album.
It has always been hard to pigeonhole Blood Red Shoes under one particular genre and ‘Ghosts On Tape’ only makes that harder with a gothic edge shrouding the sounds that have brought the band much success.
You can feel the care that has gone into ‘Ghosts On Tape’, and the album surely represents some of the duos most creatively complex and ingenious work to date. The album speaks to the outsiders of the world, and after the last couple of years we’ve all experienced reclusiveness from society. That makes it very easy, perhaps too easy considering the themes, to embrace these songs.
It may have taken almost two years for ‘Ghosts On Tape’ to see the light of day, but the album likely feels even more relevant now. Lyrically and musically this may be a side step from Blood Red Shoes, but it works incredibly well and is well worth allowing yourself to be absorbed into their murky world!
It’s a new year, so there is a lot of that “new year, new me” stuff in the air. It’s actually awfully tempting to start this review by saying “new year, new Twin Atlantic”, but that’s far from the truth. The band’s sound has naturally evolved over their last few albums and arrives here and now with their sixth studio release, ‘Transparency’.
It certainly does feel far removed from their early material, but it isn’t as giant a leap as it somehow feels from their 2020 album ‘Power’. There has been a certain flamboyance to their music ever since ‘Great Divide’ elevated them into the mainstream, and yes that flamboyancy is turned up to 11 on this album.
WATCH ‘BANG ON THE GONG’ ON YOUTUBE
Pre-release singles ‘One Man Party’ and ‘Bang On The Gong’ unashamedly pointed to the direction of this album and the complete collection definitely doesn’t fail to deliver on the promised lavishness.
‘Transparency’ is short and to the point which suits this statement of an album well. It wouldn’t be fair to say that until now Twin Atlantic have been playing by the rules, but with this album they have certainly thrown off the shackles. The album has the feel of a band comfortably letting loose.
The results are very intriguing and will illicit reactions one way or the other. Some old school fans may not feel comfortable with the direction of ‘Transparency’, and that’s fine, but there is plenty here for those that have followed Twin Atlantic’s recent trajectory.
There are elements of all eras of the band here, but they are all accentuated on this ambitious record to create a splendiferous symphony of lavish pop rock. So, old school fan or first time listener, sit back and let Twin Atlantic take you on a short, sharp journey of wonder!
2020 was a year that we all wish we could forget. Could 2021 be any better? Well, it started off just as the previous year ended; with the live music industry on its knees. Lockdown restrictions still ruled out any live in person shows, with even socially distanced shows initially outlawed.
Come late spring, things began to look up and a number of “test” events were planned. We were lucky enough to attend the Pilot Download Festival and the euphoria of being amongst fellow music fans in a field can’t truly be put into words. Things were looking up!
Live music would eventually make a full return but sadly as we write this The Year In Review 2021 feature, the sector is once again holding its breath waiting for the Government to take action. Alas, true normality may still be a long way off, but for a few months this year we got to feel alive again.
That alone elevates 2021 above 2020, but there is plenty more to unpack. We recently undertook our now annual countdown of our top albums of the year over on our social media. 2021 was a truly exceptional year in terms of album quality. Those musicians kept in lockdown last year certainly found their creativity and compiling a list of the top 50 albums of the year was highly competitive.
In our The Year In Review 2021 article, we will be revealing our end of year award winners. As with last year we will announce our Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Artist of the Year, Gig of the Year and Festival of the Year.
This year however we have an additional award to hand out. 2021 was a big year for Full Pelt Music, our first full year in existence. We’ve grown and we’ve enhanced our focus on new music. We launched initially our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist on Spotify through which we highlight the best up and coming artists.
We also launched not one but two Podcasts this year, including the accompanying ‘Discover’ New Music Podcast where we truly shine the spotlight on your new favourite acts. As such, this year we will also be awarding the ‘Discover’ New Artist of the Year award!
Before we get to those awards though, let’s run you through a few of our highlights this year. First of all, as mentioned we also launched The Full Pelt Music Podcast this year. Fittingly our inaugural guest was Frank Turner, the winner of both our Gig of the Year and Artist of the Year awards in our 2020 Year In Review.
Across the Podcasts this year we’ve had the pleasure to talk with Press To Meco, Beans On Toast, Miss Vincent, Planet Fatale, Mercutio, Light By The Sea, Freddie and the Fabs, The Damned Few, Project Renegade, Icarus and Smoke! Be sure to check out these conversations, and also to Subscribe on Youtube or wherever you listen to your Podcasts. After all, we will have plenty more for you to enjoy in 2022.
The Music Industry has seized on the opportunity to entertain this year both live and on record. We’ve reviewed 66 albums, 2 festivals and 27 gigs in 2021 as fans have been treated to incredible releases and some truly stunning live shows. Again, perhaps the enforced break has allowed creativity to breed innovation.
So with that in mind, let’s work through those award catagories!
Album of the Year
As we’ve already referenced, the pure quality of releases this year made compiling our Top 50 Album of the Year List very tricky. It was hard work but we did it, and you can read the full list here.
The quality is demonstrated best by last year’s winners IDLES only reaching a still respectable number 7. The winner however had to be ‘Blue Weekend’ from the incredible Wolf Alice who continue to go from strength to strength. After three stunning albums, there is no ceiling for this band and we can’t wait to catch songs from the album live in 2022.
‘Blue Weekend’ by Wolf Alice
‘Written & Directed’ by Black Honey, ‘Typhoons’ by Royal Blood, ‘Seize the Power’ by Yonaka and ‘Transmute’ by Press To MECO
2020 – ‘Ultra Mono’ by IDLES
Single of the Year
We move on now to our award for the Single or Song of the Year. This year has again seen us locked down for considerable amounts of time and many will have sought solace in Playlists such as our Spotify Hot List.
In selecting our track of the year we considered which songs we’ve come back to time and time again, which songs remain as fresh now as they did on first listen and what songs simply just resonate on a different level.
Our winner is an incredible track from the fantastic album ‘Transmute’ from Press To MECO. ‘A Test Of Our Resolve’ ticks all of the criteria and also sounds absolutely massive live.
‘A Test Of Our Resolve’ by Press To MECO
‘My Town’ by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, ‘Afterlife’ by Holding Absence, ‘Midnight’ by Creeper and ‘Haven’t Been Doing So Well’ by Frank Turner
2020 – ‘Obey’ by Bring Me The Horizon feat. Yungblud
Artist of the Year
Artist of the Year now and for this award we look for somebody who has had a huge, perhaps even career-defining year. Last year we gave the award to Frank Turner for his incredible work for the #SaveOurVenues campaign through his Independent Venue Love series.
This year our winners are a band that also dabbled with livestreams during that first lockdown. This year however has been a hugely important year for Biffy Clyro. A new album, ‘A Myth of the Happily Ever After’ came hot on the heels of last year’s ‘A Celebration of Endings’. It’s another quality album from a band that continue to deliver consistently great music.
The band also had a huge impact on the live music scene this year. Firstly, the band rode to the rescue by stepping in as late replacements for Queens of the Stone Age to once again headline Reading and Leeds Festivals.
Secondly, the band played huge outdoor shows in Cardiff, Glasgow and Margate to help signal the return of live music after around 16 months of lockdown. Highlights of both their Reading and Glasgow performances aired on the BBC.
Lastly, the band played a completely sold out and very intimate ‘Fingers Crossed’ Tour across the UK. Their shows this year giving fans an opportunity to witness songs from not one but two albums live for the first time.
Enter Shikari, Bring Me The Horizon, Creeper and Wolf Alice
2020 – Frank Turner
Festival of the Year
Festivals made a belated return from lockdown restrictions in late summer, although the majority of the usual seasons events were still cancelled. For our Festival of the Year however we can’t look anywhere other than the special event that laid the groundwork for all events to return, the Download Pilot Festival!
Back in June the Government test event was the first opportunity for music fans to camp in a field and rock out for three days. The camaraderie and atmosphere this situation created, combined with the uniquely intimate Download layout and line-up made for a once in a lifetime experience.
British bands took centre stage and delivered an incredible weekend of music; with bands and fans both desperate to experience live music again. Thanks to all involved we can hopefully experience a full fat Download Festival again this summer.
Last year’s winner of Gig of the Year was a socially distancing outdoor affair, this year however true live music returned! Picking a winner this year is difficult because the pent up frustration of lockdown on both musicians and fans vented fully across some amazing gigs.
We reviewed 27 of those shows this year and there were some very special moments amongst them. The winner however must go to Bring Me The Horizon who stormed the O2 Arena with You Me At Six and Nova Twins in tow.
The night was a massive middle finger to any remaining doubters and the band solidified themselves not just as arena fillers but as festival headline ready. Fitting therefore that they have recently been revealed as headliners for Reading & Leeds Festivals next year.
Creeper @ O2 Kentish Town Forum, Idlewild @ Electric Brixton, The Offspring @ Wembley Arena, Biffy Clyro @ O2 Kentish Town Forum, Vukovi @ Norwich Waterfront Studio and Royal Blood @ Norwich UEA
2020 – Frank Turner @ Nottingham Arboretum
‘Discover’ New Artist of the Year
Our final award is a new award for this year where we shift focus on to the future. Having launched our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist and Podcast this year we wanted to honour an act that we have featured and for whom the future is bright.
With their debut album ‘A Funeral For Youth’ cracking our top 20 for the year, Miss Vincent take the inaugural ‘Discover’ New Artist of the Year award!
Planet Fatale, Dead Nature and Thumper
So, it hasn’t been a usual year again, in fact at times it has been just as hard as 2020. 2021 has however reminded us of what we were missing. Stunning new music, incredible live shows and a return to some normality (nobody say ‘new’ normal!), make 2021 a year that will live long in the memory for many reasons.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our The Year in Review 2021 feature and we wish you a very Happy New Year. Here’s hoping 2022 is a good one!
Since leaving their Callous Heart jackets on the KOKO stage back in November 2018 the normally well thought out plans of Creeper have hit road block after road block.
With their second record arriving during lockdown, this tumultuous period appeared to be ending with their arrival of their previously postponed headline tour. Alas, the show tonight at the O2 Kentish Town Forum in London takes place amid more uncertainty as the pandemic rages on.
Support act Wargasm are unable to play due to COVID and many of the sold out crowd clearly are also missing. The night should be a celebration, but the atmosphere is cautious, there is an impending sense of doom.
Music though is the great equaliser and can take away all of life’s worries, even if only for a while. Opening act Static Dress do a fantastic job of raising spirits and blowing away doubts. The crowd are instantly sucked in and the band capitalise on their short time on stage superbly. Crowd definitely warmed up!
With no Wargasm, it’s straight onto main support for this tour, Holding Absence. Having released one of the albums of the year in ‘The Greatest Mistake of My Life’, anticipation is high for their set. Over the next 30 minutes the band lives up to all of the hype that comes their way.
An assured and uplifting performance from a band on a massive spike in upwards trajectory. ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Wilt’ close out a short but very sweet set which captures the hearts of those in attendance. It shouldn’t be long before Holding Absence are headlining venues of this size.
Our headliners tonight however are Creeper. The band have battled adversity to arrive at their biggest headline show. Their cult following are out in force, even if the attendance drop reported by the Music Venue Trust is in evidence. The night has a special feel, and if any band can meet the high expectations then it’s Creeper.
Musically stunning and theatrically spectacular, Creeper take their audience on a journey of delight. From the time they arrive on stage to the moment they leave, Creeper exude confidence. This show builds on everything the band has presented since their inception and makes a statement. This is a band at the peak of their powers. This is the celebration that it needed to be.
A mixture of material features from across their career from their debut EP to recent release ‘American Noir’. The evolution of the band is clear for all to see, and so is the effort put into the show.
It may have taken slightly longer than expected to arrive at this level of venue, but on this showing Creeper are still on course to progress into even bigger buildings. This tour is a master class from the purveyors of grandiose rock and roll theatrics. Let’s hope that Creeper now get a clear run towards their destiny.
Volbeat find themselves at an interesting point in their career, well, as far as the UK is concerned. Of course the band is huge in Europe, but where do they fit in over here?
They’ve steadily worked their way up festival bills and played larger and larger venues, but will they reach the arena filling, festival headlining status they enjoy elsewhere? They felt on the cusp prior to the release of 2019’s ‘Rewind, Replay, Rebound’ but a slightly lacklustre response to that album and a global pandemic stifled their progress somewhat.
Now, they return with their latest album, ‘Servant of the Mind’, with another chance to make that leap. Whilst ‘Rewind, Replay, Rebound’ wasn’t a momentum killer of an album that many bands in the rock scene have suffered from in recent years, it also didn’t propel them any further. So the ultimate question now is can ‘Servant of the Mind’?
If the early singles, ‘Wait a Minute My Girl’ and ‘Dagen Før’, were anything to go by then that answer would be yes! The album jumps straight in with ‘Temple Of Ekur’, ‘Wait a Minute My Girl’ and ‘The Sacred Stones’ setting the tone for the next sixty plus minutes of music.
Another single ‘Shotgun Blues’, ‘The Devil Rages On’ and ‘Say No More’ all then act to reassure that yes, this is Volbeat at their very best. The thrashing swagger of the guitar work that launched their career is front and centre in all its glory, and the songwriting is able to latch on to create some new classics for the bands arsenal.
WATCH ‘SHOTGUN BLUES’ ON YOUTUBE
Always a force to be reckoned with live, these tracks will instantly enshrine themselves as fan favourites when the band next take to the stage.
This album certainly finds the band at their relentless best and even as it reaches its latter stages there is plenty to retain your interest. The deluxe version of the album will set you back some 80 minutes of your life, but it’s time well spent.
On the evidence of this album, Volbeat will be pushing themselves further up those festival bills and any lingering doubts can now be dispelled. How could we ever have doubted this band!