Tag Archives: EP

Luke James Williams : Drove, EP released November 2018

A new EP from Cambridge singer/songwriter/guitarist Luke James Williams.

1. From The Drove A short, multi-textured introduction to the EP, an array of acoustic instruments resolve into a welcoming chord.

2. Snares & Traps This is an intense, poignant ballad of relationship ending, delivered with characteristic emotion and commitment over a sparse, steadily repeating guitar figure. There is a neat waltz time middle eight as lyrical resignation takes over ‘…what have I got to show for it but a box of my broken pride…’

3. Speak To Me A mid-tempo uplifting celebration of affection; catchy chorus too, with a double tracked vocal. Ambiguous imagery pervades the lyric to reflect the positive feelings ‘… I want to hear the rush of life through every melody.. from your thoughts in the hills out through your mouth to me…’

4. Rabbit Hole The previously released single from the EP, this track has more of a band instrumentation. It features an impassioned vocal with a lyric of pleading and desperation always leading to the key line ‘…No I can’t watch you fall down that rabbit hole again and again and again….’

5. Still In Bed Beginning with the haunting lines ‘… I lay trapped in amber.. and you say that I don’t care…’ this very impressive song is the finale to his current live set. Sung with passion it is a standout track; a simple but stunningly effective ascending and descending guitar line is the only accompaniment to the emotionally raw lyric, coupled with a very attractive melody. Towards the end of the song suddenly a distant echoing piano drifts in and then subtly plays along.

6.You Are The Captain A slowed down folk ballad, this wistful, dreamlike piece uses timeless imagery of the sea as the narrator drifts away on the tide. Over the strummed chords and marching drumbeat the resignation and yearning is poetically described ‘…You are the bloodline, I am just bleeding…..all that I wanted was to be there… ‘

This debut EP is an excellent introduction to his music, as evocatively described on his website….‘Light and dark, ugly and beautiful, happy and sad, fearful and brave, the music of singer songwriter Luke James Williams reflects the opposing forces and wonderful chaos of the world around us’

http://www.lukejameswilliams.co.uk/#about

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Anna Hester : Towards Today, EP released November 2018

A long awaited second EP of original songs from Milton Keynes guitarist/singer Anna Hester, following up her four track release ‘In The Meantime’ from 2014. An entrancing live performer with just vocals and acoustic guitar; on these tracks her empathetic backing ensemble enhance her pure folk voice.

1. We Can Get Lost A mellow opener, the relaxed backing of the band is a foundation for a lyric celebrating the uplifting optimism of a promising new relationship. Anna’s vocal soars and floats along with some neat self-harmonies.

2. Have We Met A slow ballad, starting with the elegant line ‘…I found your tapestries there in my eyes…’ the listener is invited into a world of abstract melancholy, (creating a similar mood to ‘The Byrds’ on her previous EP, a song that when I first heard it I wrongly assumed it to be a folk standard, such was its timeless resonance). The lyric drifts towards disappointment and betrayal, with some clever musical nuances along the way. A sublime track, my favourite on the EP.

3. Watch The Clock The lead single from this collection, a highlight of her live set. On here Anna embraces an easy jazz/folk styling for a late night middle tempo song of questioning and hope. Combining the seventies instrumentation of ‘Solid Air’ era John Martyn and the lyrical yearning of Nick Drake this standout song is propelled by a loping, sensual double bass and echoing piano hauntingly moving in and out.

4. Towards Today A more conventional song structure with a catchy chorus line. The gentle vocal interweaves with sparkling acoustic guitar arpeggios and a cello counter melody. A subtle end to an EP of quality and richness.

http://annahester.com/

Hairband : Hairband EP, released October 2018

A new EP from Glasgow five-piece Hairband, formed in 2016 from members of many existing bands on the local DIY/Indie scene.

1. Bee Beginning with voices buzzing (of course) the band then set up a sparse rolling groove with angular spiky guitar (sharing an alternative universe with fellow residents Television, Gang Of Four and more recently Shopping). The dual vocal lines interweave smoothly with reassurance for the threatened species ‘….honey, I promise it’s gonna be alright….’

2. Bubble Sword The jazzy bass leads this track, not sure what the lyrical message is but the riff rocks along with conviction.

3. Flying Atmospheric, impressionistic piece ‘….thank you gravity for all you’ve done for me but don’t let me go….’, you can lose yourself in this one as the guitars combine, the bass has that insistent tone again and the drumming is nicely forward in the mix.

4. White Teeth Supergrass may have the most famous passing dental musical references in ‘It’s Alright’ but this is a whole song about them ‘….your teeth glisten in the sun….so white…very, very clean…’, as a way of conjuring up a lingering memory of a current or lost relationship? It is my favourite track; with a rock-solid bass, ringing guitar line and haunting vocals.

5. Sassy Moon The longest track on the EP, a steadily building, unrelenting brew featuring many of the elements from the previous tracks. Solo vocal lines are punctuated by the chorus ‘…how do you feel, how do you feel about the moon…’ then as a surprise the song begins to speed up and enters another level.

The whole EP has a sharp as-live sound, with a sparkling uncluttered production…

https://hairband.bandcamp.com/album/hairband

Fightmilk : Both Types Of Hayfever (EP Collection), released May 2018

As a prelude to their forthcoming album punk popsters and prime live attraction Fightmilk package together their first two sold-out EPs and bonus tracks…

1. Admin. Stunning opener; the band burst in on top of the guitar fanfare line leading into a frustrating tale of office job pointlessness; ‘…looking for fun where there just ain’t none…’, the words nailing the mood with plenty of dry wit.

2. Jesse. Brooding introduction then springing into life like a 70s Blondie A-side. A stinging demolition of love/hate towards the title character in every phrase of the lyrics.

3. Your Girlfriend. The dissonant guitar figure over minimalist backing is the musical core of this tour de force, it’s a sinister loud ballad, again with a turmoil of mixed emotion that remains unresolved with wry lyrics along the way ‘…I don’t have a pencil case but if I did I’d write your names…’

4. Winter Boy. The tempo steps back up, with a storming vocal from Lily Rae, on repeated listens you pick out the multiple musical twists and turns that are a feature of many of these tracks.

5. Some Boys. One of the bonus tracks but definitely one of my favourites musically, a joyous speedy two minutes with rousing hookline chorus from the rest of the band. There is even a key change to match the gender switch of the lyric.

6. Pity Party. Defined as ‘an instance of indulging in self-pity or eliciting pity from other people’ but actually sounding quite fun here (and on the accompanying video) due to the strength of this song, the lead track on one of the original EPs. The verses build stealthily to the glorious choruses.

7. Bank of Mum and Dad. Combining a Sex Pistols style pounding introduction giving way to the wittiest lyrics of the album with affectionate nods to the foibles of parents (‘….their love is beginning to drive me mad, there’s Antiques Roadshow on a Sunday night….’), as the returning to live at home narrator gets increasingly irked over her now very common plight. Brilliant!

8. Chaperone. Don’t be fooled by the distant piano introduction – this is another two minute blast of assertive raw power with drums to the fore.

9. Nye. A bittersweet acknowledgement that a New Year’s Eve and its party can be a most unrewarding experience. ‘…we get the night that we deserve…who knows the words to Auld Lang Syne?…’. It is a cleverly constructed song, with a winning and intense vocal performance.

10. Nobody Hates You No-one Cares. If ‘Nye’ brings the mood down a bit then this is the antidote; a proper punk anthem (‘…my boyfriend’s rubbish…and the band he’s in is rubbish as well…’). Fightmilk are having a great time on this track, and it is infectious…

I look forward to the new album…


https://www.facebook.com/fightmilkisaband/

Trick Bird : The Conversation, EP released May 2018

A new six track EP (LP?) of mystery and imagination from enigmatic Cambridge songwriter/performer Trick Bird. Who knows, it may or may not be named after the semi-cult Francis Ford Coppola movie, a film that portrays some of the paranoia that seems to pervade many of these tracks?

1. Holly Holy. Up-tempo opener rolls along nicely with some glistening guitar and irresistible hookline chorus. Not sure who the heroine is but she sounds like potential trouble, lovely sparkling short solo near the end.

2. Can You See Me? Overlapping and echoing vocals at the start then the ‘band’ crashes in to turn this into the most immediate track on the album, a sort of brooding, pulsing, melodrama in the style of underrated electronic troubadours Teleman.

3. Our Lives. An organ driven sound on this song, including some 1970s type built in percussion patterns. The different musical textures drift in and out and a wistful but sinister vocal describing scientific advances and their consequences.

4. The Conversation. The longest track on the album, staring with a country harmonica vibe it is a duet with talented guest vocalist Gabriella Davalos about a disconnected relationship (‘…when twenty-six letters aren’t enough any more…’). Another voice and a soundtrack sample is in the background; it is a complex, rich and rewarding track with a possible fantastical resolution (‘…you dream of riding wild horses in fields of gold…’)

5. Eye To Eye. A short and subtle ballad with combining voices backed with smooth and evocative strings from Cambridge musician Sharon Sullivan of the band Keltrix.

6. Another Heist. A simple descending chord figure on the piano is given plenty of space, driving the song above a montage of passing sampled sirens and featuring a floating, dream-like lyric.

And don’t forget the amazing cover art…


http://www.trickbird.co.uk/

Sun Scream : Take It Easy, EP released April 2018

I first encountered four-piece band Sun Scream when they contributed the sparkling lead-off track ‘She’ to renowned compilation ‘This Is The Sound Of Sugar Town, Vol 2’ celebrating the riches of music produced around the Bury St Edmunds area. Now they have released their debut EP, complete with distinctive artwork drawn by band guitarist Emily Wallace. Over this four track collection these psychedelic adventurers create their own collage of depth and subtlety.

1. Extract Sinister introduction soon gives way to some heavy fuzz guitar and a mind-bending lyric about putting a piece of a soul in a hole. This of course fits perfectly with the variant structured sections of the music, eventually loosening into an textured onslaught of lead guitar and bass lines, some synth-type bubbling and a general good-time vibe.

2. Marmalade A short instrumental meander, extreme echoing guitar creating almost a harp-like feel.

3. Samsara ‘…The Sanskrit word samsara means “flowing on” or “passing through”…with the connotation of cyclic, circuitous change’, it is a title which gives a broad canvas to this epic track. Mainly based around a stately descending guitar figure, the mobile bassline and fluid drumming weave around to great effect. This is a proper psychedelic workout, with words of rivers, skies, life and death to add to the heady mix.

4. Take It Easy The title track is a brooding delicacy, built around a repeated bassline and counterpoint guitar. The vocal is more forward in the mix for this one and the sparser sound has the required addictive atmosphere of weird menace.

With a growing live performance reputation too, this is a band to watch…


https://sunscreamband.bandcamp.com/
https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2017/07/29/various-artists-this-is-the-sound-of-sugar-town-vol-2-released-july-2017/

Diving Station : Alice, EP released 2017

This EP from Diving Station has been out a while, but it is still a discovery well worth making. The four-piece from Manchester describe their sound as indie-folk and harp-driven rock with other genres blending in too. The harp features strongly on short instrumental opener ‘Alice I’ with a bold chord entering over the sound of raindrops.

‘Plastic People’ has an alienating lyric over a roving bass and drums with sparkling harp glissandos. A middle section gives way to a repeated chorus line then an enormous electric guitar crashes in and drives the song into a big finish with a gradual drift away. It is full of surprises, as is much of this EP.

‘Turn Off’ is a more conventional rock song, with an irresistible hookline, sung with emotion by main vocalist Anna McLuckie. Another short instrumental, then pivotal song ‘Origami Warfare’ broods and builds over five and a half minutes, drawing the listener into the offbeat lyrical ideas; some fine free-form drumming on this track and that big guitar crashes in again.

‘Drown’ is probably my favourite track, an acoustic and atmospheric duet showing the folk/dream-pop side of this talented band. As the music fades away over the horizon it certainly leaves a lasting impression…

https://divingstationmusic.bandcamp.com/