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Blackout Problems

RIOT

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BLACKOUT PROBLEMS – RIOT – ALBUM REVIEW

German rockers Blackout Problems have been slowly building their reputation over the past decade and have been threatening to breakout for at least half of that time. Impressive recent support slots and memorable festival performances have perhaps created the highest level of anticipation yet for a new album.

Well, that album has now arrived in the shape of ‘RIOT’. The record is their fourth studio release and is an anagram of trio, signifying their first release as a three-piece. Line-up changes and heightened expectations may surround the album but it’s the band’s continued ambition which shines through.

Originally writing music for a potential solo project, singer and guitarist Mario Radetzky is on record as saying that these songs “sounded like Blackout Problems” and attention soon turned to creating the next chapter of the Blackout Problems story.

Sonically these songs do share the essence of the band’s sound but they feel more expansive and have a greater sense of purpose. Whilst there are many personal themes running through the lyrics on this album, the overarching spectre of something bigger looms large.

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Blackout Problems – ‘GLOFS’

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The chaos of the current world landscape is explored in cohesion with Radetzky’s own personal discovery and the band shows that they aren’t afraid to get political when needed. It’s perhaps fitting then that current tourmate Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari features on one of the standout tracks, ‘GLOFS’.

There are a number of tracks which push the album forwards and ‘PUZZLE’ and ‘WHALES’ are both also good introductions for new listeners wanting to test the waters. Ultimately though, ‘RIOT’ has been crafted to take you on a journey of sorts, so it’s worth taking the time to enjoy the full album in all of its majesty.

Whether or not this is the release to take the band to the next level or not, only time will tell but ‘RIOT’ is certainly a solid album which further establishes them as a band worth taking a punt on!

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The Snuts

Millennials

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THE SNUTS – MILLENNIALS – ALBUM REVIEW

‘Millennials’ marks the third studio album from The Snuts in as many years – quite the exceptional work rate for any band these days. Work ethic isn’t something that this group have ever lacked though and their grind has seen those first two records reach number one and three respectively upon release.

You’d instantly think then that there is a level of pressure for ‘Milliennials’ to emulate that success? Well, that pressure intensifies when you consider that ahead of this release, dissatisfied with their major label, the band branched out on their own setting up their own independent label Happy Artist Records!

That decision would be enormous for any band but in this day and age it’s an incredibly brave decision. The Snuts are clearly happy to bet on themselves though; and why not? Those first two albums produced an endless stream of indie rock anthems and lead single, ‘Gloria’, instantly demonstrated that their knack for creating festival ready sing-a-longs remains very much intact.

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The Snuts – ‘Gloria’

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With ‘Millennials’, the mould is unbroken and fans will feel safe in the familiar sound that the band have perfected in the past five years. There isn’t much in the way of evolution here, which is the smart play by a band taking giant leaps on the business side of things. ‘Milliennials’ may be The Snuts playing it safe, but that’s exactly what they needed to do with this album.

The record is short, sharp and on point. With ten tracks and a run-time of almost exactly thirty minutes, ‘Millennials’ feels like it is something of a statement from the band. They may have moved house but they have decorated their new house in the same sonic colours.

This is fantastic news for lovers of sun-soaked indie anthems and this album produces more sure-fire live favourites like ‘Millionaires’ and ‘Dreams’. The rise of The Snuts continues and they will continue to climb those festival bills and play bigger shows until they are recognised as one of the biggest indie bands on the circuit. After all they have already created a strong community around them and as per the lyrics of ‘Millionaires’“if love was money, we’d be millionaires”!

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Gen and the Degenerates

ANTI-FUN PROPAGANDA

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GEN AND THE DEGENERATES – ANTI-FUN PROPAGANDA – ALBUM REVIEW

Gen and the Degenerates have been infecting music lovers with their striking live shows in recent years. The band have appeared on many a festival bill, winning over fans instantaneously and garnering a fair amount of hype.

Now it’s time for the band to show just what they can do on record as they share their debut album, ‘ANTI-FUN PROPAGANDA’. The tone was set with the record’s lead single, ‘BIG HIT SINGLE’ and tongues are firmly planted in cheeks throughout much of the album.

It’s not all laughs though as the socially conscience group tackle some big topics with the overarching theme that being a human in 2024 is tough. Their response to that darkness though is to introduce light. The concept that fun is the best medicine for the toxicity of modern life isn’t necessarily new (after all we’ve just reviewed an album from a band who popularised joy as an act of resistance), but the way that Gen and the Degenerates deliver that fun is refreshingly uplifting.

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Gen and the Degenerates – ‘Kids Wanna Dance’

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These songs are incredibly contagious and the likes of ‘Kids Wanna Dance’ and ‘Famous’ will have you bopping away all night long. This new bubblegum-punk sound is ferociously catchy and these songs will excel in the live environment.

On the penultimate track ‘Post-Cool’ singer Genevieve Glynn-Reeves proclaims that “cool is dead – this is post-cool”, and that term is a perfect description of how Gen and the Degenerates fit in the punk landscape. At a time when it’s cool to be punk, Gen and co take the brooding out of the scene and inject it with a heavy dose of fun!

Gen and her degenerates have made a truly fantastic debut album, and by the time that the band show off their musical dexterity with the six and a half minute slow burning album closer ‘Jude’s Song’, you are left wanting to do one thing and one thing only – hit play again!

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‘Discover’ New Music Podcast – Episode 63 – Gen and the Degenerates
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Album Reviews

IDLES

TANGK

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IDLES – TANGK – ALBUM REVIEW

IDLES have made an indelible mark on the UK music scene with their ferocious, foot stomping, punk frenzy. They’ve led a wave of acts into the mainstream consciousness and they’ve been praised and shot at in equal measure.

One regular criticism is a perceived lack of evolution both sonically and thematically. Well, welcome one and all to a giant middle finger of growth in the shape of their ostentatious fifth album, ‘TANGK’. We recommend that you leave all preconceptions and reticence at the door, and strap yourself in for one hell of a ride!

To lay it out bluntly, ‘TANGK’ is quite unlike anything you’ve experienced from IDLES over the past decade. The essence of the band is very much intact, it isn’t a complete reinvention, but it’s undoubtedly the biggest leap that the group have taken between releases thus far.

There is a powerful message of love sewn throughout the record as the band fully embrace their ‘All Is Love’ motto. Announcing the album, singer Joe Talbot eloquently proclaimed, “I needed love. So I made it”, and there is certainly a different listening experience present; one of positivity and yes, of love!

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IDLES – ‘Dancer’

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If you need to release some anger, then you’re perhaps best served by their earlier work, because as this album evolves all you’ll want to do is dance! That’s by design of course and the likes of ‘Dancer’ are naturally going to get crowds moving when the band play these songs live.

Changing their methods up, ‘TANGK’ has been produced by Nigel Godrich and Kenny Beats alongside the bands own Mark Bowen, and the trio have unified to create something uniquely special. Managing to both harness the focussed passion and energy that gained the band their following whilst simultaneously embracing a broader and more ambitious sound, the trio guide ‘TANGK’ towards being the fullest IDLES experience yet.

What is for sure though amongst the feeling of change present on the record itself, is that these songs will sound just as massive live as all your favourite IDLES tracks. And there within lies the mastery of what the band have achieved on ‘TANGK’!

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PET NEEDS

Intermittent Fast Living

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PET NEEDS – INTERMITTENT FAST LIVING – ALBUM REVIEW

‘Intermittent Fast Living’ begins with singer Johnny Marriott gently asking, “alright? how are you?” as he welcomes us into the chaotic world of PET NEEDS. The band have been living a full throttle life since signing with Xtra Mile Recordings, with this being their third album in as many years.

What this album represents however is the balance between life on the road as a touring, recording artist and the quiet family life that separates the chaos. Whilst the subject matter is autobiographic, the themes are purposefully relatable and as Marriott asks us how we are, we are instantly engaged into a conversation of sorts.

The album bursts to life with lead single, ‘Separation Anxiety’ which digs into the juxtaposition of two distinct realities further. The enriching experience of touring is paralleled with the angst of leaving loved ones, whilst there are jabs at bands preaching one thing whilst practicing something quite different with Marriott observing, “I’ve been trying to love myself, because I’ve been told to love myself by every single self-destructive indie band”.

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PET NEEDS – ‘Separation Anxiety’

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Each track develops on the overarching themes whilst clearly establishing the bands appreciation of their current situation and their gratitude for the community that surrounds them. There are plenty of tongue-in-cheek easter eggs in amongst the lyrics and the fans will revel in dissecting each gem.

Sonically the album follows the path laid by ‘Fractured Party Music’ and ‘Primetime Entertainment’, whilst offering an expansion on their uniquely catchy punk sound. The band somehow manages to once again create a mighty noise whilst harnessing some truly pop sensibilities.

‘Fingernails’, ‘Sleep When I’m Dead’ and ‘The Optimist’ will be live favourites for years to come, but the real magic comes from the more off-piste moments such as the superb album closer ‘Buried Together’ which ends the album on a note of acceptance and love.

Over the course of the eleven tracks, PET NEEDS are able to connect with the listener and share the struggles and joys of modern life. ‘Intermittent Fast Living’ continues the group’s insatiable momentum and is undoubtedly their most well-rounded collection yet.

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Watch Episode 44 of The Full Pelt Music Podcast with guests PET NEEDS

The Full Pelt Music Podcast – Episode 44 – PET NEEDS
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Album Reviews

Normandie

Dopamine

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NORMANDIE – DOPAMINE – ALBUM REVIEW

Normandie have been drip-feeding their prescribed sonic doorway into a dystopian future in the shape of their monthly single releases in the lead up to this album. Indeed, seven of the eleven tracks are already out there but now their full vision is upon us.

‘Dopamine’ is the follow up to 2021’s ‘Dark & Beautiful Secrets’ which saw the band entrenching themselves into the consciousness of modern rock fans. This release seemingly picks up that mantle once again as the band look to establish themselves as a vital artist in the ever growing landscape of the music world.

Thematically, ‘Dopamine’ is the opposite of its predecessor which explored frontman Philip Stand’s past. This new collection sees the band examine what a future would look like where humanity has burnt themselves out and rely on dopamine fixes much like our existing vices. It’s an interesting concept and one which might even feel all too real.

While we continue to push ourselves harder and further, you have to ponder what we lose along the way; be it relationships, aspirations or something more tangible. Life these days is relentless and it’s in our nature to do whatever is necessary to push on through the struggle, so the themes on ‘Dopamine’ may feel all too relatable!

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Normandie – ‘Sorry’

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Musically the album does follow nicely on from ‘Dark & Beautiful Secrets’ as the melodies soar higher and the riffs hit harder. The ambition is clear and Normandie have again created something instantly accessible and capable to capturing the hearts of all strains of rock fan.

There are harder hitting highlights such as the Dani Winter-Bates featuring ‘Hourglass’ interspersed with softer moments such as the very next track, ‘Sorry’. The juxtaposition demonstrated is sublime and the album as a whole flows superbly. The band really does seem to have an incredible talent for catchy hooks and the amount of sing-a-long inducing choruses on this album should be illegal under laws against monopolies!

You certainly have to feel sorry for their competition, because it hardly seems fair that Normandie can create such elegance with such apparent ease. ‘Dopamine’ is just the latest example of their ability to deliver something special.

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The Last Dinner Party

Prelude To Ecstasy

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THE LAST DINNER PARTY – PRELUDE TO ECSTASY – ALBUM REVIEW

Any self-respecting music aficionado will have clocked the name The Last Dinner Party filling ‘next big thing’ and ‘one to watch’ lists over the past year. In fact, the name seems to have become somewhat inescapable with the band topping the BBC Sound of 2024 poll and taking home the Rising Star Brit Award.

The previous winners and nominees for that BBC award in particular read like a who’s who of post-2000 music. Some winners like Adele, Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding, HAIM and Keane have gone on to fill arenas around the world. Others however haven’t fulfilled the early promise. Does anybody remember The Bravery? They won it in 2005!

So whilst these prestigious awards can be an enormous launchpad, they can also be a millstone around your neck. One of the hurdles that these awards actually put in the way of the winner is the distrust of certain music fans. The Last Dinner Party have already been accused of being ‘industry plants’, ‘flashes in the pan’ and other derogatory terms used to belittle their success.

The most important next step for any new band though is the release of their debut album; and with ‘Prelude To Ecstasy’ that moment now arrives for The Last Dinner Party. One hugely successful single and a handful of well received tracks have built anticipation ever higher, which really begs the question of the moment – can the record and the band live up to the hype?

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The Last Dinner Party – ‘Caesar on a TV Screen’

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Well the instrumental opening title-track instantly sets out the incredible ambition of the album before ‘Burn Alive’ and ‘Caesar on a TV Screen’ really commence the journey that the listener is about to engage in. At twelve songs and forty plus minutes this isn’t a mere introduction to the band, it’s their magnum opus being unfurled and implanted into the subconscious of British music!

As the album progresses and you take in all of the subtle influences, the majesty of their sound really elevates with each listen. The aesthetic of the band ties in with the sonic expression found on this album to create a grandiose experience that is hard to shoot down. Indeed the self-fulfilling prophecy of topping major awards has provided an opportunity that on the smallest percentage of artists get, but, and it’s a big one… The Last Dinner Party have delivered an album that fully justifies every accolade.

So, does ‘Prelude To Ecstasy’ live up to the hype? In our humble opinion, absolutely it does and anyone arguing otherwise are clutching at some rather thin straws. Whether the band (or any act) can reach Adele levels of success will remain to be seen but we’d expect them to last longer than The Bravery!

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Florence Black

BED OF NAILS

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FLORENCE BLACK – BED OF NAILS – ALBUM REVIEW

Florence Black have been threatening to breakout for a few years now and the impressive tsunami of pre-release singles for new album, ‘BED OF NAILS’, has set some high expectations.

Three of those tracks open the album with ‘START AGAIN’, ‘DON’T HOLD ME DOWN’ and ‘BED OF NAILS’ setting the tone early. Each track brings something different yet they all feel intricately connected. ‘TAXMAN’ is then the first unknown taste of what’s to come and it continues an unrelenting pace that won’t wane over the whole twelve tracks and forty plus minutes.

The remaining two singles follow succinctly with ‘LOOK UP’ giving of some grandiose AC/DC-esque vibes, and the superb power ballad ‘WARNING SIGN’ rallying the listener to overcome the hurdles of life. The first half of the album grabs the listener by the hand and leads them towards enlightenment.

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Florence Black – ‘WARNING SIGN’

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It’s at this point that the album really comes into a world of its own. Given the strength of the first six tracks, the band perhaps could’ve rested easy knowing that they’ve got a decent album in the bank. Rather than sit back and phone in a half-hearted back end though the group have instead strived to create something special.

Producer Romesh Dodangoda has a magic touch and this album can be heralded as another stunning success. ‘BEAUTIFUL LOVER’ provides another tender moment, before ‘THE WAY HOME’ picks things up once again. That theme of familiar yet unique flows throughout the sonic essence of the album and ensures that your attention is never sapped.

There really is so much to dissect in these twelve tracks with southern rock inspired ragers interspersed with nu-metal bangers and radio friendly rockers. The impressiveness of guitarist/singer Tristan Thomas’ dexterity is only matched by the powerful soundscape offered by bassist Jordan Evans and drummer Perry Davies.

These three individuals have come together on ‘BED OF NAILS’ to capture a touch of the extraordinary. Those high expectations haven’t just been met, they have been far exceeded and this album deserves to be the one that thrusts Florence Black into the stratosphere.

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Alkaline Trio

Blood, Hair, and Eyeballs

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ALKALINE TRIO – BLOOD, HAIR, ANd EYEBALLS – ALBUM REVIEW

While Alkaline Trio remained active during the Matt Skiba era of Blink 182, Skiba himself has admitted that they took something of a backseat. It’s perhaps not surprising then that the gap between 2018’s ‘Is This Thing Cursed’ and new album, ‘Blood, Hair, and Eyeballs’ is the longest one in the groups history.

Recent times have been particularly transitional with Skiba’s untimely departure from Blink 182 and the exit of long time drummer Derek Grant of particular note. Thankfully though for fans, the band continues to persevere and their tenth studio album is now out in the world.

WATCH THE VIDEO FOR ‘BLOOD, HAIR, AND EYEBALLS’
Alkaline Trio – ‘Blood, Hair, and Eyeballs’

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The title-track gave fans a glimpse of the band at their best when it acted as the lead single for the album, which is named after a phrase coined by Skiba’s nurse mother. Thematically the album explores the similarly grotesque nature of what the band have referred to as “apocalypse culture”.

The concept of fear-inducing bad news in the media creating a toxic environment will surely remain apt as both the US and UK prepare for a year of election frenzy.

Yes the world is always going to focus on the bad, but the fact that Alkaline Trio are still pushing out new music is something good that we can all focus on. Music is such an important distraction and the eleven tracks on ‘Blood, Hair, and Eyeballs’ can certainly keep you entertained for half an hour or so.

Ten albums in and any band will struggle to deliver an earth shattering new record. This album ultimately is decent without being that standout release. It does have its moments though and feels now like a solid reset moment for the band.

With Skiba now fully invested again and the accomplished Atom Willard on board, you feel it won’t be that long between releases this time around; and that future really does seem more exciting now with this album feeling like a timely reminder of what the trio can offer.

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Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

Dark Rainbow

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FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES – DARK RAINBOW – ALBUM REVIEW

Frank Carter has never been one to simply take the road of least resistance, especially when it comes to his musical direction. After all this is the man that left one of the hottest breakthrough bands to push his boundaries and experiment with a wider sonic palate.

With his own name on the posters now though he has a near frictionless opportunity to fully explore whatever direction he feels like taking. That is of course ignoring the noisy minority who will forever pine of an angry Carter full of rage and a desire to burn the world down.

That though isn’t a healthy mindset to carry through life and Carter’s own life has reached a point where he can suitably reflect on the ups and downs that have paved the way for the fifth Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes album – ‘Dark Rainbow’.

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Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – ‘Brambles’

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Musically the album sees Carter and co-conspirator Dean Richardson indulge the softer elements that have gradually crept in over the first four records. There are still some headbanging moments for good measure but if you’re somebody looking for another ‘I Hate You’ then you’re going to be disappointed.

If however you have an open mind and a willingness to soak in the suave aesthetics of the album then your curiosity will be rewarded by Carter’s ambition. This is certainly an album that needs your full attention, but you will be rewarded if you stick with it.

Indeed the pre-release singles may be some of the weakest in relation to the immense depth shown across the album. This record will divide opinion for sure, but as a snapshot of an artist formerly known as a hellraiser, this collection is as genuine as it is brave!

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