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Bon Jovi

Forever

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BON JOVI – FOREVER – ALBUM REVIEW

Anyone would love to have had the career that Bon Jovi have had, but their journey through different eras is something future music historians will view with great perplexity. How many times can a band be written off only for them to reinvent themselves and prove all their doubters wrong.

Whether it’s early glam rock Jovi, soft rock Jovi, hard rock Jovi, ballad Jovi or country Jovi, Jon Bon Jovi and his merry men keep moving whereas their contemporaries pack up or stay put. During a career which has turned them into one of the biggest bands of all time, they’ve also become one of the biggest targets of all time!

An American U2 if you will, the group will be the butt of jokes from your mates, but they’ll be the first in line for tickets and screaming the lyrics to ‘Living on a Prayer’ whenever they come to town. Reviews, quite rightfully of late, have also always been quick to lament the efforts of one of the most enduring acts past few decades.

The title of their new album, ‘Forever’, feels like another proclamation that they aren’t going anywhere despite recent vocal issues trending and their latest albums being highly maligned by most commentators.

WATCH THE VIDEO FOR ‘LEGENDARY’
Bon Jovi – ‘Legendary’

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The first thing to note about the record is that Mr Bon Jovi himself sounds in fine fettle and as such the many sing-a-long inducing choruses all sound stadium ready. The second thing is that musically this sounds like peak Bon Jovi, as the band almost go back to basics.

Thirdly, it’s worth admiring that all of those genres listed above are present and, to use another tired cliché, the sound of this album could be referred to as career-spanning! This means that there really is something here for fans from all eras of Bon Jovi and that they don’t do any of these eras a disservice with their offerings here.

‘Forever’ could be a much needed career reset once again for a band with an astonishing work-rate. Indeed, you wouldn’t put it past them to simply go on forever after all. This may not be up there with a ‘Slippery When Wet’ or even a ‘Have a Nice Day’ but it’s a damn sight better than their most recent efforts!

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Royal Republic

LoveCop

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Royal Republic are one of those bands that people might struggle with until they see them live on stage. Thereafter they’re guaranteed to be fully converted into the madness that this obscenely catchy party band.

Of course, a band needs songs to play when they are on those stages and Royal Republic are back to grow that arsenal with their fifth studio album entitled ‘LoveCop’. A naturally absurd name for another over the top, all out disco rock release!

The ten tracks on this album may just be their most diverse set yet, despite all heavily capturing that funky style that has typified their sound to date. Indeed, this is a continuation of their previous work, but it’s more than that as the band expand on the retro elements of their music with some sublime 80’s-esque pop hooks lifting these new tracks even higher!

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Royal Republic – ‘Ain’t Got Time’

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Never afraid to let it all hang out, it’s great to see the group playing with their sound enough to keep things fresh, whilst maintaining their signature aura. ‘LoveCop’ is made for the dancefloor and it will be impossible not to dance along to the likes of ‘My House’, ‘Boots’ and ‘Ain’t Got Time’.

Equally the likes of ‘Lazerlove’ and ‘Electra’ bring something a little different to the collection which keeps it moving nicely. All in all, with a runtime of 35 minutes, the album flies by and provides the band with more than a handful more songs to draw from when they capture your attention from the stage, just as they will at Download!

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Twenty One Pilots

Clancy

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TWENTY ONE PILOTS – CLANCY – ALBUM REVIEW

Every now and then a musical force comes along that changes the game and inspires a whole new generation of artists. Twenty One Pilots can lay claim to being such a special talent, with their 2015 effort ‘Blurryface’ launching a tidal wave of creatives looking to replicate the fresh sound perfected by Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun.

Continuing their artistic vision, the duo have subsequently embarked on a multi-album story arc involving a character names Clancy. 2018’s ‘Trench’ and 2021’s ‘Scaled and Icy’ are now joined by the eponymous ‘Clancy’, which closes out the storyline.

Twenty One Pilots have again used creative methods to promote the record in a way that engages their dedicated fanbase whilst generating much needed hype for the album. The world brought to life through songs and videos is wondrous and the duo should again be credited with changing the norms that surround the unlimited volume of music put out into the world.

WATCH THE VIDEO FOR OVERCOMPENSATE
Twenty One Pilots – ‘Overcompensate’

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Musically though whilst ‘Scaled and Icy’ was generally praised there was a clear undertone of negative reviews which gave it the bands most mixed reception since their mainstream explosion. The same will likely happen again with ‘Clancy’ as whilst it continues to spotlight the ingenuity of Joseph and Dun, it also fails to produce the same excitement as their breakthrough releases.

Of course, popular opinion is a historically polarising medium in which to rate actual quality but it sadly does bare consideration. Clancy is a sublime theatrical and sonic journey which diehard fans will celebrate as a masterpiece, but it’s sadly likely to flop at the box office. A useful analogy may be that ‘Clancy’ is the Multiverse of Madness for the Twenty One Pilots’ MCU!

Given the levels of ambition for both those projects it may be frustrating that outside of an embedded customer base the visions for this album may not get the response that they deserve. Like certain movies in the MCU will stand the test of time, you wonder which tracks will endure in setlists over the next decade and outside the obvious like ‘Overcompensate’ and ‘Next Semester’ you can’t pick any with a degree of certainty!

Much like the MCU as well, you can’t help but wonder where the band will go next.

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Paul Weller

66

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PAUL WELLER – 66 – ALBUM REVIEW

Paul Weller celebrates his 66th birthday with his aptly titled new studio album, ‘66’. What a career Weller has had! From The Jam and The Style Council to his ever growing arsenal of releases under his own name, he has long since carved his name into musical folklore.

It’s highly commendable then that he continues to explore his creative desires and ‘66’ is his sixth solo album of the past decade. Much to his financial detriment (how much would a reunion of The Jam earn him?), Weller’s persistent pursuit of musical evolution has typified those releases and he shows no signs of slowing down.

WATCH THE VIDEO FOR ‘NOTHING’
Paul Weller – Nothing

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Always looking to work in new ways, collaboration is something that Weller has embraced and on ‘66’ you will hear contributions from an array of talented individuals including Noel Gallagher, Suggs and Bobby Gillespie.

The twelve tracks that make up ‘66’ have been worked on over the past three years and represent a varied sonic outlay akin to the diverse mix of sounds produced over his recent efforts. It’s probably fair to suggest that there is something on this album for fans from each of his different eras.

The likes of ‘Jumble Queen’, ‘Nothing’ and ‘Soul Wandering’ do jump out but the album as a whole is easy to consume with a well structured flow. As ‘Burn Out’ brings the album to a close you can’t help but again marvel at the longevity and vision of a true national treasure!

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Bring Me The Horizon

Post Human: NeX GEn

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BRING ME THE HORIZON – POST HUMAN: NEX GEN – ALBUM REVIEW

The twists and turns in the road to releasing ‘Post Human: NeX GEn’ have been plentiful for Bring Me The Horizon. Since the first release of the Post Human series, ‘Post Human: Survival Horror’, arrived in 2020 the group have solidified themselves as one of the biggest bands in the world, headlining arenas, stadiums and festivals all over the globe.

Behind all that success however has been a narrative that not all is well in house Horizon and the late notice delay in releasing this new collection has been followed by nine months of uncertainty and the shock departure of creative whiz Jordan Fish. Midnight however brought another shock for fans as the band surprised everyone with the unannounced delivery of ‘Post Human: NeX GEn’!

So after all this time, how does the album stack up? Well the tracklist features sixteen tracks and interludes which run to over fifty-five minutes so the first cliff note is that this is a substantial offering.

The second note is that the song titles and their retro Myspace-esque capitalisations are going to test our autocorrect as we run through this review! Highlights on the naming convention front include ‘Top 10 staTues tHat CriEd bloOd’ and ‘a bulleT w/ my namE On’.

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Bring Me The Horiozn – ‘a bulleT w/ my namE On’

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Another key note before diving in is that the trend of Bring Me The Horizon collaborating with artists continues at pace with AURORA, Underoath, Lil Uzi Vert and Daryl Palumbo of Glassjaw all contributing. The final pre-note for reference is that the departed Fish is still credited on seven of these tracks, so his fingerprints still remain intact even after his exit.

Now then, ‘[ost] dreamseeker’ introduces fans to the first new track ‘YOUtopia’ which is our first Fish-less glimpse of new Bring Me The Horizon. The track does however include a credit for the equally esteemed Dan Lancaster who has worked with the band previously and is a current live member of Muse. It’s perhaps not a shock then that the song instantly indicates that the aesthetic of recent singles remain intact.

Speaking of recent singles, ‘Kool-Aid’ follows and is the first of six already released songs on this album dating back to 2021’s ‘DiE4u’! The decision to include all these singles is interesting and likely done for completeness. Come the end of the near hour of music however you do slightly feel a few of these could’ve been left off to make this collection more succinct.

WATCH THE VIDEO FOR ‘DiE4u’
Bring Me The Horizon – ‘DiE4u’

As with all of these past singles, the newer tracks here draw more from the poppier side of the group whilst still going hard. They don’t align sonically with the heavy hitting ‘Post Human: Survival Horror’ tracks, although frontman Oli Sykes does state that thematically “It’s a real concept album, with a full narrative that connects to the first record, but the concept is hidden and buried,” before adding, “Some people aren’t going to be interested, but for some people it could be like a self-help book. There’s a lot of things in there, some of it’s quite clear, but a lot of it cryptic and hidden. People are gonna have to work it out.”

It will be interesting to see if the Post Human concept continues beyond this release, particularly given the time lapse and line-up changes since its inception. You also suspect that this release won’t have the same impact on their career trajectory as its predecessor.

That’s largely because the band have already achieved top tier status and this record certainly doesn’t change that. Indeed it shows that despite their issues and their already prolific release history, they still have plenty left to offer.

There is a giant sense of relief that ‘Post Human: NeX GEn’ is finally out and that the band can now move on. The album is again a smorgasbord of influences and gives of real retro 2000’s vibes whilst maintaining that signature modernisation that only Bring Me The Horizon seem to be able to pull off.

Upon ending with ‘DIg It’, it’s actually hard to look back and pinpoint any real standout moments, probably due to the pre-familiarisation with the singles. That said, there isn’t anything bad here either and the album certainly provides an absorbing listening experience; which is exactly what you should do now – go and listen for yourself!

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The Treatment

Wake Up The Neighbourhood

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THE TREATMENT – WAKE UP THE NEIGHBOURHOOD – ALBUM REVIEW

When we reviewed The Treatment’s last album, ‘Waiting For Good Luck’, we commented on the aptness of the title and the fact that their revolving line-up had stifled their early momentum. Well a status report ahead of their new album, ‘Wake Up The Neighbourhood’ and the line-up remains static with a prevailing wind once again behind good ship Treatment!

This record is the groups sixth studio effort and remarkably marks the first time across those albums that the same vocalist has featured on three successive releases. It does have to be said that Tom Rampton’s stunning voice has played a big part in recapturing the magic and righting the ship.

Those vocals again stand out throughout what is easily the band’s best work, which is saying something given their fine previous work. On an album which aims to pay homage to the roots of the classic rock genre in the 1970’s – then of course just known as rock!

WATCH THE VIDEO FOR ‘WHEN THUNDER AND LIGHTNING STRIKES’
The Treatment – ‘When Thunder and Lightning Strikes’

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As we focus on two newer bands from the ‘New Wave of Classic Rock’ in our Magazine this week, it should of course be noted that it was the likes of The Treatment that really started that movement back in the early 2010’s, and it’s great to see the band not just coasting but pushing full steam ahead.

The opening run of ‘Let’s Wake Up This Town’, ‘Back To The 1970’s’, ‘When Thunder and Lightning Strikes’ and ‘This Fire Still Burns’ will tell you all you need to know about this eleven track and forty minute collection. It’s all out rock ‘n’ roll, but with a truer classic sound and a little less of the pub rock elements of previous albums.

This helps to create a genuine throwback sound but with a modern twist, and ensures that many of these songs will be stuck in your head for some time. These songs will sound huge live and this album should act as a new marker for success for a band still capable of making a mark!

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Kings of Leon

Can We Please Have Fun

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KINGS OF LEON – CAN WE PLEASE HAVE FUn – ALBUM REVIEW

Kings of Leon are in the position many mega-selling artists find themselves in. They’ll forever be shackled to their back catalogue and the weight of expectation to replicate past success. That burden however equally can become a gift. Their career is stable, they will forever be able to sell out the biggest venues across the world, and therefore it perhaps doesn’t matter if they continue to produce hit records.

Well, for Kings of Leon they have linked up with producer Kid Harpoon for their ninth collection as a band. In advance the band have talked of their positive experience working with the Brit and have classed ‘Can We Please Have Fun’ as the music they’ve always wanted to make. Perhaps then those shackles are now off!

Given recent output has been somewhat hit and miss from the Followill tribe, it’s interesting that on this album they lean into their more methodical side. Slower but perhaps more meaningful the sonic ambience of the record is far removed from their bigger rockier hits with an almost shoegaze-esque feel creeping across these tracks.

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Kings of Leon – ‘Mustang’

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That perhaps could be the influence of the Harpoon kid or perhaps just an expansion on their own garage rock roots but it ties the album with a cohesive albeit basic thread. The band have commented in press for this record that not everything has to be turned up to 11 and in fact there is nothing here really turned up to even an 8.

This album is all very easy going, which isn’t necessarily a criticism but you kind of wish they would step it up at least once or twice. This record though, despite its title, isn’t designed for the dancefloor or even the festival stage.

It would however suit a long, sunny car ride somewhere and ultimately you suspect the album title is more self-fulfilling. Hopefully, the band enjoy this record because they’ve earned the right to make music for themselves, just as long as those hits continue to fill those stadiums!

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Indoor Pets

Pathetic Apathetic

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INDOOR PETS – PATHETIC APATHETIC – ALBUM REVIEW

A lot can happen in five years, and it certainly has in the five years since Indoor Pets backed up their early promise with brilliant debut album, ‘Be Content’. The world has seen chaos, disorder, panic, isolation and depression, and Indoor Pets haven’t been impervious to modern life’s crushing weight either.

With the world stopping, the band took time away from the music industry including the rigours of maintaining a constant social presence. Thus, they disappeared for a while from public view, but thankfully they eventually reconvened to harness their creative powers once again.

Now the group are back with their sophomore release, ‘Pathetic Apathetic’, which sees them emerge from hibernation with a harder sound and a point to prove, even if just to themselves!

WATCH THE VIDEO FOR ‘LONDON (LOVE TO HATE)
Indoor Pets – London (Love To Hate)

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The record bursts into life with the scathing indictment of our capital city that is ‘London (Love to Hate)’, and that honesty both in terms of lyrical content and musical soundtrack continue through the rest of the album.

It does feel like on ‘Pathetic Apathetic’ we are getting Indoor Pets unchained and free to make music the way they want to without the burden of expectation. There’s a passion and an energy that seeps through the substance of these songs and the results are magical.

During their early years, Indoor Pets managed to beautifully showcase their pop sound utilising indie-indulging guitars, but on this record, those guitars thrash and fuzz more like a British Weezer. This helps to affirm ‘Pathetic Apathetic’ as an incredibly catchy return for a band that has never failed in creating enjoyable pop rock earworms.

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BIG SPECIAL

POSTINDUSTRIAL HOMETOWN BLUES

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BIG SPECIAL – POSTINDUSTRIAL HOMETOWN BLUES – ALBUM REVIEW

Should it be any surprise that 14 years into the chaotic rule of the Tory party, we’ve seen a boom in politically conscious groups gaining substantial popularity? Anyone would think that the working class were sick and tired of being taken for granted and treated like fools and even an inconvenience to those in power!

Given it’s a rather important year for politics it’s perhaps more imperative than ever for the voices of the general public be heard. It’s perhaps just a coincidence then that many big hitters of the so-called post-punk movement have released or are about to release new albums this year.

It’s a new act however that has been generating the most hype and now BIG SPECIAL are taking this opportune moment to share their huge debut album, ‘POSTINDUSTRIAL HOMETOWN BLUES’.

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BIG SPECIAL – ‘POSTINDUSTRIAL HOMETOWN BLUES’

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That is huge in terms of the themes present, huge in terms of the sonic kaleidoscope on offer, huge in terms of impact and indeed huge in terms of size. The collection sits at fifteen tracks and nearly fifty minutes of running social commentary intermixed with a sublime blend of punk, of course, but also alt-rock, soul, goth-rock, pop and a heavy dose of blues.

Whilst much focus, even within this very review, will be on the frank and pertinent lyrical content which is of great relevance in the current climate, the most impressive aspect of this album is the variety of stunning musical turns. It really is the sonic onslaught that grabs you firmly and hypnotises you into absorbing those words of brutal poetry.

The words that do come forth from the music are different from the standard post-punk clichés because they don’t preach and they don’t look to answer the problems identified. The album simply places on record observations of the impact of modern life whilst subtly holding out hope that things can get better.

Despite much of the duo’s promotional materials offering the quip that “It’s not big and it’s not special”, on listening to this superb collection you’ll be left under no uncertainty that this is indeed very big and this is truly very special!

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Attic Theory

What We Fear the Most

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ATTIC THEORY – WHAT WE FEAR THE MOST – ALBUM REVIEW

The so called “New Wave of Classic Rock” continues to flourish with dedicated rock fans always on the lookout for something new. As such, a name that will have caught their gaze in recent years is that of Attic Theory.

The group have been winning over audiences with their live shows whilst supporting the likes of Terrorvision, Black Spiders and Dead Man’s Whiskey or hitting up festivals such as Firevolt in their native North West.

In late 2020, a well received EP further pushed their name as “one’s to watch”, but now feels like the time for the band to arrive as it were. That’s because the fateful moment when Attic Theory release their debut album is upon us.

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Attic Theory – ‘Narrow Lines’

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‘What We Fear The Most’ acts as a statement of intent, capturing on record the sound that has won them their plaudits thus far. That is a hard rock sound that pulls in elements of metal, classic rock and even grunge – the latter stemming largely from the powerful voice of singer Lewis Wright which brings with it Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell vibes.

The guitars are crushing and the rhythm section is methodical which gives the majority of the record some real thunderous momentum. There are standouts and quirks however with the likes of ‘Tattooed Heart’, ‘Narrow Lines’ and softer numbers ‘Million Little Things’ and Lucy Ellen featuring finale ‘The Legacy’ all worthy of mention.

All in all though this is a very solid documentation of what Attic Theory are all about, and with the hurdle of a debut album skilfully navigated you can only imagine that the band will continue to go from strength to strength.

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