Tag Archives: EP

James Brute : Lost Soul Music, EP released January 2020

A track by track review of ‘Lost Soul Music’ from James Brute, the long awaited follow-up to 2014’s macabre percussion and vocal single ‘Bury Yourself’.

1. Again-Again A stately but sinister blues guitar riff marches through the mix marking time like a giant swinging pendulum blade. The desperate vocals from James are a match for this moody music from the five-piece band, especially when the chorus bursts into life.

2. Here She Comes At nearly eight minutes this movie soundscape takes plenty of time to build the atmosphere and when the opening lines finally arrive ‘…I feel like Don Quixote…taking on the windmills in my mind…’ memories of the two albums by previous band The Brute Chorus are evoked with their lyrical density and plethora of references.
Like the classic desert horizon movie scene in Lawrence Of Arabia it is all in the anticipation of the arrival of the enigmatic figure and the gradually building power of the instrumentation.
With impressionistic phrases ‘….she swims among the fishes, she feeds me figs and dates and oranges and plums…..’ and the barely contained fireworks of the band and voice this is a spectacular track.

3. Danielle Opening with a gentle guitar figure and subtle cymbal percussion this meditation revolves around another mysterious character, the quasi-biblical Danielle, ‘….welcome back again, this is the lion’s den you’re walking in….while the others are asleep pull the thorns out of my feet and lead me away….’. It may end well ‘….I think this must be love but I’ve been wrong before….’ but the ominous bursts from the band indicate a darker future…?

4. Archaeologist Blues
This loose, strolling blues is a vocal tour de force, packed full of imagery and ideas, namechecking cultural touchstones ‘….Time Team and Indiana Jones….‘ along with some sharp one-liners ‘….I’ve traded honey for a bee sting….‘ always leading to the haunting hookline ‘….give me one second I will try to reveal it….‘.
The band are given a real chance to shine around a guitar solo in the second part of the song before the vocal finishes abruptly, bringing this excellent EP to an end.

https://jamesbrute.com/
https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2015/01/20/recommendation-brute-chorusjames-brute/

Emily Frith : Open Book, EP released January 2020

1. Better In the introduction the vocal and sparse instrumental backing draws us in, before the band fully kicks off on this strong opener. Alternating between the big chorus and back to the quieter moments this is a well-structured song, with a lyric of overcoming adversity ‘…now you’re standing your ground you can’t be torn down…everything that hurt you made you better….’ finally pivoting around a neat middle-eight with the clear statement of hope ‘….and I know rain comes on the sunny days…but it makes your favourite flowers grow…’.

2. Out This is an EP of variety, drawing on pop, poetry and folk influences and here on this track the simple piano accompaniment is infused with the melancholic optimism of the best country music, as a plaintive verse resolves into the positive longing of the chorus. ‘…if life’s an adventure, I wanna go with you…if you’ve got your worries, I’ve got mine too….as long as we’re together, we’ll figure it out……if life’s an adventure, let’s go, go, go out….’.

3. Giving Up on Love The brooding rock background underlines a lyric of the narrator’s emotional questioning and turmoil. The sharp rhythm of drumbeat and electric guitar of the verse escalates into the full-on chorus ‘…I don’t know if I’m doing wrong, but the guys I like end up in all my songs…’ and ‘…I don’t know if I’m doing right…’ ; the only answer seems to be the title phrase. The middle eight is a bit bleak too ‘…once you’re a cheater you’re always a cheater..’ but despite the downbeat sentiments this is still a powerful and involving song.

4. The Blue Currently my favourite on the EP, this is a rolling up-tempo country gem. Like many of the songs in the genre it is about leaving, travelling and arriving as a metaphor for a relationship. With the spirited vocal and relaxed but pacy backing this track must be a highlight in any live set.

5. Want to Love The other four songs have already been singles but this thoughtful piece is a new addition to Emily’s catalogue. Driven by an impressionistic melody and loose instrumentation featuring acoustic and slide guitar the mood is unhurried and mellow. The sentiments of the lyric are delivered with conviction and heartfelt emotion as this excellent EP fades away into the ether.

https://www.facebook.com/emilyfrithmusic/

Molly-Anne : Autumn Leaves, EP released December 2019

Issued as a very limited edition, this EP showcases the quieter acoustic side of Gloucestershire folk-country composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Molly-Anne.

1. Little Cove Starting with a gently weaving guitar arpeggio the vocal appears as if over a distant horizon. The verse resolves into the evocative ‘….and I’ll be yours under the Cornish sun,’til morning comes…’. This track creates the foundation of the atmosphere for the whole EP – spectral, minimalist, beguiling.

2. Against the Tide With slightly more urgency on this song, the guitar figure personifies the flowing water of the title. ‘….I feel I’m swimming against the tide now….I know this world is turning slow now….fear of growing old…’. It is a gentle musing on choices and passing time (and was inspired by Pink Floyd’s classic ‘Time’). A harmonica appears near the end, the only other instrument to feature on this collection.

3. Cold Is the Night Straight into my pick of the year dozen, this is a gem. An understated ballad, the subtle guitar chords waltz along as the yearning lyrics deliver a feeling beyond the poetry of the words. ‘…those flowers on my windowsill, gold as the sun they remind me of you…and I’ve known heartbreak before…and what I wouldn’t give to see you walk through that door, for me…’. Gorgeous.

4. When You Leave Another song that goes straight to the emotional core, a slower meditation on life after loss, also drawing in the passing of the seasons and the slowing down as autumn moves into winter. A beautifully sung free-form melody leads into the haunting chorus ‘… I can’t sleep, the monsters in the night won’t comfort me…’

5. Yellow Sky From the impressionistic title and the moody introduction the fine vocal performance interchanges between light-as-air verses and restrained power in the chorus. Again the autumnal theme of the EP underlies the optimism, with the striking middle eight reflecting the longing at the heart of the song.

https://www.mollyannemusic.co.uk/


Pink Lemonade : Take It Squeezy, EP released November 2019

A new EP from Cambridge-based trio Pink Lemonade, following on the pop blasts of ‘Space Girl’ and ‘Sugar N Spice’ as well as live shows including an appearance at Bury St Edmunds Homegrown festival (reviewed at https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2019/06/09/homegrown-festival-bury-st-edmunds-8-june-2019/). The band play an infectious mix of high energy indiepop – full of hooks, fun lyrical twists and thoughtful messages.

The three songs here continue the tempo of their previous singles, starting with ‘Rewind’ – a catalogue of hazy recollections of a night out featuring neat lyrics and a killer chorus. The bass sound on this track cuts right through the mix and the guitar lines are straight to the point. Drums pound and embellish the uncluttered space they leave in all of their songs. It is a cleverly structured song elevated further by the razor-sharp production.

‘Time To Run’ is a bit of a departure from their trademark sound, augmented by an unexpected brass section this is a mid-pace reflection on the transient nature of relationships and their decline from initial optimism ‘…that night I gave you my phone number…and you let me wear your jumper….’ leading to the unavoidable conclusion ‘…I guess it’s time to run…’

Speeding up for finale ‘Short Shorts’ the band deliver a ska-infused punkpop spectacular, the music mirroring the clearly stated empowerment of the words ‘…let me wear no make-up… when will you quit asking me what’s up?…’. There is the added urgency of an irresistible hookline ‘….I do what I want….I do what makes me happy…’ with the brass section back in the mix too.

It is a storming track and like the rest of the EP it is perfectly crafted for including in the fireworks of their live set.

https://www.facebook.com/PinkLemonadeMusicUK/

Gaffa Tape Sandy : Family Mammal, EP released August 2019

A super-long EP or mini-album from East Anglia’s finest power-rock trio Gaffa Tape Sandy. It is a follow-up to their acclaimed collection ‘Spring Killing’ from 2017 and builds on their reputation for brilliant live shows, which has been captured in the excellent ‘as-live’ production here.

After an insightful spoken introduction from young Isaac (‘…banging tunes!!…’), the opener ‘Beehive’ pushes all before it; unbearably catchy vocal lines, a descending chord sequence, an impassioned natural history lyric and guitar noise that could not be bettered. With the flexibility of two strong and contrasting singers the band can keep the momentum going with the excellent ‘Meat Head’, a timely reminder of attitudes to personal rights.
Both of these tracks have been previously released and are familiar live favourites but the newer ‘My Desperate House’ maintains the high standard. After the deceptive calm intro and the band raise the fireworks to full volume there is no doubt that this is another fine tune.

‘Headlights’ has a syncopated, choppy rhythm and with the dual vocals trading exchanges it refers to the mental health issues that cloud the lives of so many people. As on the rest of the album the production and mix on this track blend the basic trio of instruments into something really special.

Departing into the quick waltz time of ‘So Dry’ the band show their prowess when stretched into a song of contrasting light and dark sound levels, as also ‘Dinner Jacket’ which is a more sedate outing…..until the trio suddenly burst into full flight near the end!

‘Turnstile’ has an anthemic quality with explosive drumming and spiky bass playing, then the finale ‘Kill The Chord’ is a protest song about cuts to the arts and the closure of small venues. It is a reminder that the lifeblood of creativity is flowing through the veins of emerging bands, captured at their best in an intimate, packed performance space playing the sort of show at which Gaffa Tape Sandy excel…

https://www.gaffatapesandy.co.uk/

Bug Teeth : When All The World Has Gone To Bed, EP released July 2019

Appropriately self-described as ‘…the sounds dreams make…’, this is a five track EP from electropop auteur Bug Teeth, originally digitally available in 2018 and now released as a CD version to tie in with various live dates including the Latitude Festival.

1. Confetti Death This starts with an insistent cello-like tone undulating in intensity that provides the key reference point for the track, other layers join then finally a distant voice appears, treated into an otherworldly, ghostly instrument. The overall effect is haunting and powerful, pulling the listener into a strange world.

2. Serotonin My favourite song on the EP, Bug Teeth garnishes the electronics with a guitar loop; this one glistens in the sunshine before it is joined by some persuasive percussion beats that take it to another level. Again the voice tantalises with parts of lines and words revealed, then disappearing into the ether.

3. Raspberry The synthesisers have an analogue eighties sound here with waves of sound washing invitingly over the listener before the inquiring, plaintive voice arrives. Like the other tracks there is a feeling of timeless and limitless space.

4. Forests on the Way There
A short guitar-driven intro with a small jump in the loop to unsettle the sound, before other themes and lines interweave. While the strings are relatively untreated the vocal is echoing and weaving through the dark trees in this evocatively named track.

5. Moth (Jasmine’s Song
) A pulsing synthesiser with slowly descending electric piano is the musical core of the finale. Bug Teeth does not compromise the sound and ideas, breaking conventions of song structure and vocal presentation every time to create something magical, involving and enduring….

https://www.facebook.com/insectcavities/

R.J. Archer & The Painful Memories, EP released July 2019

A new EP from Cambridge bluesman Richard Archer, a favourite on this site and now recording as the trio R.J. Archer & The Painful Memories, bringing the welcome addition of a neglected style to the Cambridge music scene.

1. It’s Snowing in Hell A song that first surfaced on his 2017 EP, this is now given the full band treatment, adding an extra energy to the insistent riff, always returning to that great title line,‘…you tell me that you’re doing well, it must be snowing in hell…..’ With the gradually increasing desolation of the vocal it is a mini Tarantino movie soundtrack. Roger James on bass and Ben Kingsbury on drums make their presence felt at the end of this excellent track.

2. Bad Guys Always Win A more free-form track with RJ’s best vocal performance and lots of instrumental embellishments and nuance. The lyric is of course a tale of woe but with a twist away from the personal heartache to more general and bleak regard of the human condition ‘……comeuppance never comes along and where it’s gone nobody knows….they used to end up in jail, now it seems they can’t fail…‘.
An anthem for our mixed-up times…

3. In The Wrong The other two tracks were sparser in their sharpness; this one is full-on blues rock with unashamedly distorted guitar smeared across the mix creating a triumphant ‘as-live’ sound. The powerfully delivered declaiming lyric pulls no punches in its meaning, ‘….you’re in the wrong, there will be hell to pay….’.
A speeded up ending reminds us that there is something invincible and addictive about a bluesy rock trio in full flight.

https://www.facebook.com/RJArcherMusic/