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IN DEPTH: Neck Deep – The Peace and The Panic REVIEW

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Five years ago, Neck Deep was brought to life after vocalist Ben Barlow met guitarist Lloyd Roberts, and ever since the guys have been on the ascend. 2015’s Life’s Not Out To Get You stormed the pop-punk scene with ferocious attitude, creating an army of loyal followers – which is how we ended up with their forthcoming album The Peace and The Panic a few days early.

ndEarlier this year in May, the band dropped their first two singles from the upcoming album on BBC Radio 1, ‘Where Do We Go When We Go?’ and ‘Happy Judgement Day,’ which both received high praise and almost instantaneously a thousand streams over platforms such as Spotify and YouTube. Their twitter was exploding with excitement for the release of The Peace and The Panic, and with both singles setting the initial tone, Neck Deep was about to drop a banger. Last month, they released ‘Motion Sickness’ which keeps a similar kind of tone, with melodic riffs and similar thematises, referring back to previous release with lyrics “Sat on the kitchen floor all alone talking to a ghost / About where we go when we go / He said, ‘Life is the great unknown’” and ultimately proving the maturity that the band have found during the writing process and production of this album. There’s a huge sense of recollection, but the happy-go-lucky sound of pop-punk hammering in the background, it’s light and catchy. Their latest officially released track, ‘In Bloom’ takes a different route to its predecessors, slowing the music right down. We’ve seen this before with songs such as ‘A Part Of Me’ and ‘December’, but ‘In Bloom’ is really a new kind of sound for Neck Deep and really compliments Barlow’s voice.

Besides the aesthetically pleasing music video, ‘In Bloom’ is emotionally driven, and the passion of the song eventually builds the tempo gradually over the three-and-a-half-minute track. There’s a few songs like this on the album, such as opening track ‘Wish You Were Here,’ and it just proves that there’s more to Neck Deep than the breakup anthems that they’ve handed out with previous albums. It could be because fans are hearing more about the lives behind the music, and the relatability is really coming into play with this album, but it’s obvious that Neck Deep have tuned into a more passionate and emotional side they possess to drive their creativity. There’s some lyrics that are genuinely tear-jerking, such as ‘In Bloom’s “’cause the truth is, you’re the only voice I wanna hear in my head,” or heard in ‘Wish You Were Here’ “cause a picture is all I have to remind me that you’re never coming back.”

They haven’t entirely scrapped the hard-hitting pop-punk anthems though. ‘Heavy Lies’ has everything to get you into it with catchy lyrics, complimented guitar riffs and heavy basslines, the limelight definitely shines on the drums. The attitude and feeling of the song relies heavily on the rhythmic pounding drums and is truly emphasised throughout the song. It’s one of the most important component of the song as it complements the sound of everything else going on around them. It could be the speakers that I’m using, and if that is the case, then I suggest listening to this album on the best quality speakers you can find because it’s beautifully portrayed. It feels as each song has an important instrument though, since the bass during ’19 Seventy Sumthin’’ adds a depth that accomplishes the feeling of nostalgia throughout the storytelling song. It’s also quite poppy, and more body bopping than head banging. The punk element returns during the last quarter of the song, when the initially up-beat subject of the lyrics turns heavy. There was a lot affecting the band during the writing process of the upcoming album, and it breaks through with a lot of the heavy lyrics, but instead of creating a Debbie-downer of an album, it’s as if they’re discussing what’s happening, but remembering that there is still a lot of positivity to look towards.

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‘Beautiful Madness’ brings back the fast-paced and loud lyrics back into play. One of the admirable things about Neck Deep is that they’ve created music that literally leeches onto your brain and it’s instantly liked. Their music has the ability to have you screaming the words back as loud as you can, and ‘Beautiful Madness’ really is no exception – apart from the ‘Where Do We Go When We Go’, it’s the first sense of the initial reason why Neck Deep made it. And that’s the anthem-esque, loud hitting music that we first heard. The album has a lot of variety though, and shows a lot of change, even with Barlow’s voice becoming more melodic than straining. I’ve already sung a good few songs at the top of my lungs and haven’t felt that feeling of my throat tightening once, unlike the times I’d pretending I was fronting for ‘A Part Of Me.’  Sixth song, ‘Worth It’ is not only the perfect example for my previous statement, but really shows the development and skill of the guitar, with melodic riffs working in correlation with the rhythm.

But old habits aren’t entirely bad, and as the album moves on to ‘The Grand Delusion’ we can hear the sheer impact of Barlow’s passion can have on a song. It’s another nostalgic moment for the album, almost driving us back to what we might have heard if Neck Deep created a Life’s Not Out To Get You Part 2. Drummer, Danni Washington, has taken the spotlight with this album though, once again adding a great approach of intensity. ‘Parachute’ is similar, reeling in that pop-punk aggression but really emphasises on the drumming for that rhythm. Whilst Neck Deep have a knack for creating those catchy tunes, ‘Parachute’ does it differently – it’s not catchy because of the amount of noise it can make in rhythm, but because it’s somewhat light compared to their heavier melodies. It’s simple, and sometimes simple can be best. At the end of the song, Matt West has no problem showing off his ability to play a solo and while it isn’t at the forefront ndtourand being shown off, it’s nice to hear that there’s more to him than the catchy melodies that he’s clearly been working at to create The Peace and The Panic.

Previously featuring Mark Hoppus for their built on version of ‘December’ for Life’s Not Out To Get You, this time around we see the voice of Sam Carter from ARCHITECTS show up for their second to last song ‘Don’t Wait,’ and yes, you guessed it, it’s one of the heavier tracks on the album. What else can you expect, for a song featuring the face of progressive rock band ARCHITECTS? It’s a display that there is a variety to the band, and they can do it really quite well. The sound of Sam Carter’s aggressive vocals doesn’t sound out of place, and it’s really quite interesting to see how they plan to play the song live, but it’s honestly such a good song that it’s easily going to be the one to have the gnarliest mosh pits.

Ending the album with ‘Critical Mistake’, it opens with the sound of a voicemail and brings us back to that pop-punk feeling that the album has overall. Both the guitar and bass are complemented by each other, and if you want to know what the album is going to be like, ‘Critical Mistake’ is probably the song that wraps up the whole thing in one song. It’s a song that promotes finger-clicking, clapping and outrageous dancing to truly enjoy – which isn’t a bad thing! The guys have truly lived up to their name, and building off that momentum that they’ve gained over the last few years of being one of the biggest names in modern pop-punk.

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5 Albums That Have Aged Really Well

GCTCOLAD1. Good Charlotte – The Chronicles Of Life and Death

2002 was a massive year for music, and Good Charlotte released their second studio album The Young and The Hopeless that featured the still very popular pop-punk songs, ‘The Anthem’ and ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous.’ It’s a brilliant album and builds up a lot of hype at their live shows, but there’s only so much you can take before you see the opening sequence of their music video on Kerrang! and turn over the channel to try your musical luck elsewhere. But, two years later in 2004, Good Charlotte brought out what I would consider as my favourite album by them, The Chronicles of Life and Death, and the album was available in ‘Life’ and ‘Death’ editions. This – or these – albums didn’t quite get nearly enough recognition as they should have though, and they’re entirely made up of well performed and produced songs that it’s a guaranteed good time when it’s playing. The Chronicles of Life and Death have some right gems on there such as ‘Predictable’ and the well-known ‘I Just Wanna Live.’ It’s a very underrated album, but the fact that the songs aren’t consistently shoved down your throat makes it all that bit sweeter.

USEDILAD2. The Used – In Love and Death

Before ‘The Bird and The Worm’ drove The Used into the mp3 playlists of many, we were blessed with the wonders of In Love and Death. I remember Kerrang! practically playing 24/7 in our living room and no matter how many times ‘All That I’ve Got’ would play, I could never quite bring myself to turn over the channel. (There are some songs that can I can withstand on repeat!) Fast forward to the release of the surreal sound of ‘Pretty Handsome Awkward,’ the previously overplayed ‘All That I’ve Got’ disappeared from our televisions and seemingly entered the abyss. Lies For The Liars was a brilliant album, featuring party anthems and potentially earning the title of most relatable album for misunderstood teenagers in 2007. Wow, 10 years ago… In all fairness, Lies For The Liars could have been the album to feature on this list, but there’s something charming about In Love and Death that really draws you to the album, and really sets the tone for what was to come for The Used in their future. It’s got every bit of life, emotion and spirit that an album should have, and even after something like thirteen years, it’s an enjoyable listen.

BFMVTP3. Bullet For My Valentine – The Poison

Everyone who entertained the idea of being a metal head – back in 2009 when the alternative scene started booming and heavier tracks were the norm – will remember at least one song from Bullet For My Valentine’s The Poison. The Welsh boys garnered a lot of attention, and dragged all local metal fans to pack out their venues and cause a mayhem that I haven’t seen since. MSN personal messages were plagued with lyrics from ‘All These Things I Hate’ and ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ and, in all honesty, it brought a connection between opposites. It’s almost like listening to a blast from the past when this albums on, like everyone gathering outside the Newport Venue awaiting eagerly to get in and throw their limbs around; or listening to ‘My Fist, Your Mouth, Her Scars’ on a pair of massive, cheap headphones on full volume because you got grounded. It was such an aggressive song, that it almost calmed you whenever you did listen to it in a rage. But since BFMV have been growing their fanbases all over the world with releases such as Scream, Aim, Fire and Temper, Temper, the guys still remember their roots, honoring 2005’s ‘4 Words’ at worldwide shows and festivals, and hearing such a massive roar of the crowd in return. It’s just a wonderful feeling seeing the local guys grow into something huge, and not lose their old favourites.

GDDOOKIE4. Green Day – Dookie 

Most old-school Green Day fans will say that Dookie is their favourite album, and with hits such as ‘Welcome To Paradise’, ‘When I Come Around’, and ‘Longview’ featured on it, it’s hard not to be drawn into it more than others. There’s a charm about the early 90’s Green Day, and it was hard to choose between Dookie, Kerplunk or Insomnia. They’re all brilliant albums from the Kings of punk-rock, and brought people a lot of joy with their releases. Green Day has inspired people from every walk of life, from influencing music to art, from poetry to standing up in your beliefs. It was only a matter of time before they brought out American Idiot and Revolution Radio where they portray their political agendas and theoretically growing up and attempting to create a better world for the next generations. Dookie was not only a catchy punk-rock album that influenced artists such as Lady Gaga and early pop-punk era icons, No Doubt, but it was a real album, written by real people who knew what their fans were going through. Whilst most albums are written and produced keeping in mind “what will sell?” Dookie feels like the album they wanted to make. For that, I’ve listened to Dookie so many times over the years of my musical ventures and it’s always been a favourite. I cried when I was blessed with the live version of ‘When I come Around’ earlier this year at Nova Rock.

TBSTAYF5. Taking Back Sunday – Tell All Your Friends

These are the guys that turned emo cool, with their at times mismatched instruments and the iconic voice of Adam Lazzara. Back in February, at the Manchester show as part of their tour with Milestones and Frank Iero, they spoke about how The Smiths turned them into sad boys – and they might have been the start (or close to the start) to the ever expanding accounts of honest emotions within music. 2002’s release of Tell All Your Friends brought the thumb-through-the-cuffs and side fringes into a booming fashion. The album showed fearless emotion through instruments and lyrics, and is still relatable to this day. I can’t imagine anyone not getting excited at the sound of ‘Cute Without The ‘E” over the speakers, especially since it’s been almost 15 years since they burst open the hearts of many. Taking Back Sunday are still doing so well for themselves, keeping their roots close at heart and still opening their chests for fans to this day. Their most recent release, Tidal Wave done so well among life long fans, and a perfect way to garner further followings.

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Outta Peak ‘Loveproof’ Review

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Originating from the exotic land of Italy, Outta Peak have done what they can to make a wholesome, dedicated band. Since their formation in 2010, the quartet have experimented frithelessly with music and shows, growing at an alarming rate and finding their sound. 2012 marked their first release of “Never Forget Never Regret.” Their first release, sang in Italian and English, consists of songs such as “Megan Fox,” and “Hate Your Goodbye.” Bass boosted, lively and charismatic with drum breaks and energised guitar riffs, “Never Forget Never Regret” started their journey to where they are today.

OUTTAPEAKFast forward to now, Outta Peak have released their latest album Loveproof. They’ve evolved since their early releases, developing a certainty in their sound and portraying a brilliant sense of growth. There’s a confidence in their music know, and as the album plays “Dear Christy,” the band’s current direction has taken it a notch heavier, but keeping it just as lively. If there’s anything the band has stuck to since their first release, is their ability to play vivaciously and to create perpetual music.

Outta Peak have an exceptional understanding of creating songs that stick with it’s listeners. “All In My Head,” is a brilliantly composed song and easily one of the album favourites. It’s a song that forces clapping, and with a memorable chorus, a bit of a sing along. There’s a few songs like this on the album, such as “Dirty Blankets,” and “Rest In Pieces.” The guys have truly mastered the creation of chorus’s that get you riled up and ready to scream at the top of your lungs.

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Loveproof is a full length, 43 minute album comprised of a plethora of songs that will most likely strike a chord with anyone. Now residing in Sheffield, UK and signed to Human Hearts Records from Arizona, USA, Outta Peak have some big plans for their future. Currently putting on shows around the UK and reaching areas such as Glasgow and Swansea, Outta Peak’s motivation is far stretched and full of passion.

Check them out on Facebook and Twitter and stream their album Loveproof below on Spotify.

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Penelope Tree “The Scenes You Create” Review

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Bands such as Real Friends, Modern Baseball and Boston Manor have recently mixed emo with pop punk, bringing sad boys into fashion and lunging us back into 2002 where a different generation of emo was thriving, and everyone quoted Taking Back Sunday in their personal messages. Taking their chances in the field of modern day emo, Penelope Tree are an asset to any playlists featuring bands from The Story So Far, Microwave and The Wonder Years.

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Forming in 2015 in the city of Buckinghamshire, Penelope Tree have fearlessly put their thoughts and emotions on the line for their music. Released in 2016, The Scenes You Create arrived on the music scene at the right time to make maximum impact. It’s a four track EP, featuring some real worthy anthems such as “A Night Like This,” and “Restless.” It’s a lyrically beautiful EP, and has talent being shown musically, lyrically and chemically. The band works well together, with each instrument adding a certain element to make it special. The vocals are charming, pulling on your emotions throughout.

The first track, “The Way You Fall Asleep,” is a perfect example of the musical talent that the guys behind the sound of Penelope Tree have. The sound of the guitar, overlapped by the vocals is somewhat laid-back and relaxing, with the kick coming from the crashing of the drums. There’s every bit of relatability in The Scenes You Create, and it feels like the mature voice in a crowded room of pop-punkers. Penelope Tree work tirelessly, interacting with fans as much as they possibly can, putting on shows and making sure that everyone’s straight up having a good time. They show a copious amount of dedication, and The Scenes You Create is a perfect example of what they’ve already achieved, and an exciting stepping stone to what’s next.

Check them out on FACEBOOKTWITTER and INSTAGRAM and keep up to date with their whereabouts!

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The Reckless, The Brave “Out Of Time,” EP Review

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Work is slow. The only people walking through the center are zombified from the early morning commute – from the long week of work, and from those all too many drinks last night. It’s a Saturday, the only ones looking alive are the teenagers that are out early to make the most of their day before the evening gradually inches it’s way into Sunday. The weekend’s are too quick, compared to the 5-day working week. If only there were some way to spice up such a tedious morning. My only entertainment is the corner in which we sneak our phones and the bluetooth speaker, and for a Saturday morning, my phone isn’t going to be much fun considering the Friday alternative scene in Cardiff. It’s just pictures of kids eating their breakfast, or watching some creepy kids television show. I listen to the same playlist of music over and over again, so I decide a change.

My listen list, full of bands formed by friends, students and people with a passion for music is a long list to choose from. I settle for The Reckless, The Brave. I stalked their facebook not long ago, and was drawn in by the term “hard-hitting pop punk.” Pop punk is always spicy enough to turn dull to excited, or at least in my experience at least. The six track album starts with “Hard To Breathe,” and it keeps it’s promise. There’s so much energy that I instantly feel invigoration.

Forming in 2014, the band’s patience and hard-work over the two years have paid off, massively. Their EP, Out Of Time, was released mid July in 2016 and has some serious tunes. “Hard to Breathe,” is infectious, lurking at the back of your head until you listen next. The lyrics are memorable, causing involuntary singing, head movements and foot tapping. Side effects include superfluous air guitar motions. You’ll be pretending you’re in a pop punk band whether you like it or not. Through one listen, I was a guitarist, bassist and a drummer. Despite the temptation to sing into the brush handle as I sweep the work floor, I’m not that great of a singer, and I won’t try my chances in public, but I know what I’ll be singing to later.

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As the album moves on to “About A Girl,” the listener gets a real sense of the modern take of pop punk. The vocals, are the main component of that vintage feeling, but  it’s the instruments that are able to switch between styles. “About A Girl,” is one of the lightest songs on the album, but still filled with that punk energy. There’s something myspace-esque about the third track, “This Is Me.” The idea of stumbling upon a new bands page, and hearing their featured song start to play. It’s got a very archaic feel. Almost like before the pop to punk ratio went 7:3. A modern day, and punkier Kids In Glass Houses if you will. The album varies in the pop punk direction the band has taken – there’s heavier moments complimented by light pumps. It wins the right to be dubbed as the EP’s anthem track. Fifth track “Out Of Time,” might argue that, being the EP’s titled, it’s the rightful owner of the EP’s anthem. And it’s close. It’s a huge song and has a tantalizingly mesmerizing guitar’s working side by side. It’s all brought and held together by a break in the song where it the light truly shines on the work that the guitarist’s are doing to bring this masterpiece together.

“I’m Going Insane,” is lyrically a personal favourite – it’s flowing and catchy and overall a switch-up from their thematic style. It’s a very emotionally driven song, with optimism laced between each note and every drum beat. Every song recorded for this EP is important in it’s own way, but “I’m Going Insane,” feel like the most fluently played and confidently handled song. It’s  captivating, for many reasons, including the subtle bass boosting the song’s depth. The final song, “Fade Out,” sums up the whole EP.  Song after song latches itself onto your cerebrum with every note floating through your ears. In a swift conclusion, The Reckless, The Brave have achieved a modern take on early pop-punk with Out Of Time, and with plans to tour Europe over 2017, they’re going to see a lot of fist pumping.

 

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Parallaxis “Dissonance” EP Review

PARALLAXIS(Photo Credit to Clearway Media)

The first track on the album starts somewhat misleadingly with it’s slow introduction into the song, but “Malice,” sums the talent of the band up perfectly. The electronic undertones contributes an extraordinary element to the post-hardcore 5-piece band that adds to the appeal – and definitely makes the listener want more. Parallaxis’s guitarists, Ben Stevens (lead) and Ash Henbrey (rhythm) have an impeccable equilibrium between them, particularly seen in second song, “Clarity.” The guys behind Parallaxis have tuned into what it is to make music powerful, and in the direction and genre they have taken to, have managed to create and stress emotion of each song.

The aggressive vocals throughout gives the EP an overall pugnacious attitude, softened and complimented by the clear voice of vocalist, James Holt. Modern post-hardcore are rarely described as “catchy,” and more-so reviewed on the amount of sound that the band can make, but keeping to the post-hardcore mixed with a sense of old-school metal, Parallaxis’s partially classic direction has achieved a captivating and addictive musical experience in their latest EP Dissonance. The final track of the album, “Home,” is an example of their brilliance, with an emphasis on Dan Wotton’s heavy bass line. The illustration of their musical talent in Dissonance is exciting, and promising to further excellence of high-energy, emotionally driven music and shows.

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The post-hardcore genre is a broad definition for a constellation of groups, and Parallaxis have given the category their own unique spin. The third track on the EP, “Dissension,” has an added intensity due to Dan Coombs’ pulsating power of the drums, abruptly cadenced guitar and explicitly distorted vocals. The tumultuous song is one of the most significant on the Dissonance EP, with the aptitude and choler expressed mostly through the instruments.

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They’re not all about fast-paced and erratic action though. Parallaxis show their varied talent in the musical industry with their ability to slow right down, and tap into an intimate part of their creativity during their songs. “Clarity,” is the second song of the EP, and much like the first track “Malice,” has a balanced structure between accelerated and slow. Their ingenuity of an allargando experience – the term used for an accelerated piece of music to become softer, while broadening their tones in a majestic manner, while keeping the loudness of the overall sound – is rare in any case, but Parallaxis seem to have it down to a tee, and accomplish with success.

Keep up to date with the band via their FACEBOOK and TWITTER. You can find their music on their Parallaxis Official Site, on iTunes or Spotify

 

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Lighten Up Laura ‘Acting Your Age’ EP Review

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It’s late and there’s no chance of any sleep soon. There’s too much caffeine in my system to lay my head down on the pillow and drift away. My brain is wired and my thoughts are mismatched – time for a distraction. An EP that’s been recently recommended is Lighten Up Laura’s Acting Your Age. Instead of opening the link to SoundCloud, I try my luck with Spotify, and luckily, the EP is the first on the list. Bingo. I press play and get introduced to the band instantly with the song “Take Your Shirt Off (It Looks Better When On Me).” The caffeine that’s been laying somewhat dormant until now starts sending buzzes and jolts of electricity around my body. This is not a band that requires a second listen to ensure you like what you’re hearing. It hooks you in straight away with sophisticated guitar, and laid-back, relaxing vocals that have a hint of angst and agony. “Take Your Shirt Off” feels like a public display of intimacy, like the guys have ripped open their chests to share their fears and desires in confidence.

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The intimacy can also be seen in the track “Apart From,” which is slower than “Take Your Shirt Off,” but still holds a great amount of power and emotion within the instruments. The EP starts to quicken its tempo in the the song, “Missed The Boat,” and you can start to see the music fit in with their self description of “Unnecessarily loud and fast-past ramblings” as seen on their facebook page, and I think they’ve pretty much got it spot on.  It’s not every day you come across a band with hinted undertones of Placebo, Foo Fighters and Incubus all in one. In fact, I believe whatever genre a person was to favor, Lighten Up Laura have the ability to adhere and appeal to most with their unique and well constructed sound. “Plactecine” takes a different feel, but still holds on to that emotion that Lighten Up Laura hands out in abundance. The song is heavily complimented by the bass, giving the song the overall positive and upbeat attitude.

LUPSHIRT“Unnecessarily loud and fast-paced ramblings.” 

With the mixing and help of Neil Kennedy at The Ranch, who has seen names such as Creeper and Moose Blood, and George Gallivan engineering, Acting Your Age is the first EP release from the band. Lighten Up Laura is a combination of students studying performance and production courses at Southampton Solent University. The jointed faces behind Lighten Up Laura are not only dedicated but willingly putting themselves on the front-line, showing clear passion and dedication for the band. Lighten Up Laura doesn’t have years to compare and contrast, with “Chewed Up,” and “You,” being released as standalone singles earlier this year. Although, there are major differences and similarities. Both independent singles are musically beautiful and showcases their originality, but Acting Your Age feels more concise, with clear direction and a firm grip on their distinctive sound. The bands influences range across various genres including Moose Blood, Lower Than Atlantis, Baston Manor, Lonely The Brave and ABBA; Acting Your Age is not only a wonderfully compiled showcase of their talents but they have made their mark on the Southampton scene, and a genuine stepping stone into a fast-paced and ever-changing industry.

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The most mesmerizing aspects of Acting Your Age is the vocal range of Ollie Maxwell and the cadency and energetic drumming of Sammy Abecassis that really puts this EP together. It’s worth noting that the efforts placed into Lighten Up Laura by the whole band including guitarist Rory Smith and bassist Fred Devonport are what distinguishes them, because despite the outstanding components of Acting Your Age, what makes it special is the hard work and talent of all the members combined.

Keep up to date with Lighten Up Laura by following their FACEBOOK and TWITTER and take a listen on SPOTIFY.

 

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