Tag Archives: EP

Bouquet Of Dead Crows : Hemispheres Part 2 – Cerebral, EP released October 2021

A new EP from Cambridge quartet Bouquet Of Dead Crows, following on from Part 1 ‘Celestial’, released back in April 2020 (see review below)……

1.Idle Thoughts : Don’t be fooled by the quiet intro, the deep dark guitar and bass soon steers the track into raw rock territory, as the vocal calls across the wasteland in this ever-changing epic.

2.Standing At The Precipice : Faster work-out for the band, especially the fireworks drumming, but full of surprises with time signature and dynamics changes all packed into two minutes thirty.

3.One More Sunrise : Straight into the soulful tones of a thoughtful ballad structure which alternates with some of the heaviest rock on the collection.

4.The Longest Road : The Crows are adept at creating longer conceptually rich pieces; this elegantly brooding anthem has the time and space to deliver the full emotional impact.

5.Somewhere In The Static : Built around the most satisfying bass and guitar riff at the start the vocal builds over the descending chord pattern to a false finish part way through. This song has many moods; weaving together the finesse of some of the prog rock directions of the band with sections of sledgehammer power to make it a fitting end to the double EP.

https://bouquetofdeadcrows.bandcamp.com/

Kezia Gill : The Mess I Made, EP released June 2021

A new EP from Kezia Gill. a force to be reckoned with in UK country rock..

  1. The Mess I Made. Bold, brilliant vocal from Kezia on this stately rocker framed by searing pedal steel from guest Sarah Jory. An epic track on every level.
  2. All Of Me. Initially the calm after the fireworks of track 1, but soon expands into a glorious slow blues, again filled by the stormy voice and the barely contained restraint of the band.
  3. Country Song. The narrative takes us on a journey ‘…straight into a country song…’. A knowing, fun take on lyrical genre themes, with an upbeat likeable optimism.
  4. Live It Up. Mid-paced rocker with addictive chorus and a clear message ‘…don’t waste another second…live it up like we’ve only got tonight…’
  5. Bad For Me. Probably my favourite on the collection; starting as a piano waltz it all gets a bit dark before the huge chorus delivers the emotional heft. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better a soaring guitar solo duels with Kezia’s rich vocals before the ending drifts away…
  6. The Adventures Of A Travelling Mind. Recorded ‘as live’ this is a raw and dusty blues, the band keeping it tight and tense as the vocal steers the song through the reassuring chord structure, creating a big road movie soundscape…

keziagill.com

Sarah Jory – Sarah Jory / Worldclass Pedal Steel Guitarist

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Lucy Grubb : Waste My Time, EP released June 2021

A new EP from UK country/Americana singer Lucy Grubb; her first since ‘Dear Walter’ in 2018.

1.Waste My Time. A lovely opening track, it is a mellow slice of hill country with an irrepressible momentum pushed along by intricate drumming, interleaving guitar and sustained and rich keyboard notes. Lucy’s vocal is lighter than air; effortlessly portraying the theme of dissatisfaction in the song ‘…I don’t possess the knowledge to read between your lines….don’t hold my hand….I won’t look back….’, before the instruments are giving a showcase at the end.

2.Other Side. A melodic ballad, full of longing especially in the catchy but thoughtful chorus ‘….what’s the weather like on your side?…’. With the Americana atmosphere and haunting middle-eight it is probably my favourite of the collection.

3.You Don’t Do Anything. The pace picks up again for this energetic romp, Lucy smoothly delivers her well-crafted lyric, always returning to the title line dismissal. Sounds like it would be a great crowd-pleaser in a live show.

4.When It Rains. A wistful finale, with a calm footstep tempo and plenty of wide open space in the musical arrangement. Lucy’s vocal leads strongly, supported by emotive harmonies and extra strings. Like the whole EP, it stays in the mind long after the gentle ending…

Lucy Grubb – Home | Facebook

Bitch Hunt : Shapeshifter, EP released 28 May 2021

A new EP from London quartet Bitch Hunt, following on from their split EP with adults in 2020, featuring the incisive ’23’ and the lo-fi high-concept pop art of ‘Spaceman’ (complete with fun video!)

Opener ‘Out of Eden’ is built around a descending chord sequence that arrives as if from a distant horizon before the arresting lyric sets the sombre tone ‘….under the apple tree…is where I was when he found me…’. The full four-piece sound is dissonant and disturbing to go with the implied subject matter but the music is punctuated with gentler interludes. ‘Identity Clinic’ is a punkier track and shows off the ability of the band to mix up the musical styles from distorted funk guitar under the catchy chorus to a sprawling instrumental workout at the end.

‘Eau Claire’ was previously released as a single and the companionship and water themes seem to carry an undercurrent of darkness, ‘…two died in the river that year…dull water…filled with parasites…’. It could be a companion track to cult classic ‘Next of Kin’ by indie dreamers Alvvays.

‘Shapeshifter’ is probably my favourite, a plaintively sung lyric, ‘….nice to meet you… sometimes I wish I could be you …sometimes I could eat you…’ as the guitar and bass lines quietly jump around. The drums and vocal harmonies control the dynamics of the song, until a short jazz influenced coda. Bonus track ‘I Wanna Be Un/Happy’ pulls many aspects of the band’s music together for a brooding and echoing finale, raising the noise level when the chorus kicks in.

This is a satisfying, energetic and thoughtful EP full of wit, warmth and wisdom.

Bitch Hunt | Facebook

Reckless Yes – An ethical and independent record label

Katie Spencer : Hurt In Your Heart, EP released April 2021

Like the revered Nick Drake, the musical legacy of John Martyn grows in stature, none more so than the mid-period emotional landscapes of albums ‘One World’ (1977) and the extraordinary ‘Grace And Danger’ (1980). Singer/songwriter/guitarist Katie Spencer has collaborated with two members of Martyn’s band (Alan Thomson and Spencer Cozens) for this trio of tracks.

Lead song ‘Hurt In Your Heart’ builds an atmosphere around the stately descending chord sequence using a waterfall of piano, fretless bass and the warm tones of effects-drenched guitar. Katie’s voice weaves through the ethereal delight and endlessly beguiles the listener.

‘Couldn’t Love You More’ is not just one of the best JM tracks, it is one of the best love songs ever written. The tidal flow of the original’s time signature has been adapted to a gentle waltz in this gorgeous version and Katie has captured the spirit of the lyric which I always thought concealed a yearning and loss beneath the surface sentiments.

The concluding extended jazz-ambience of ‘Small Hours’ takes time to create the mellow platform for the brief but effective vocal. Martyn never achieved the recognition he deserved before his death in 2009, but this empathetic collection helps to keep his music alive.

HOME | Katie Spencer

John Martyn – Official website of the maverick singer and songwriter

Bryony Williams : Growing/Fading, EP released May 2021

A highly regarded performer at shows around the West Midlands, Bryony Williams now releases a re-imagining of some of her earlier work – opening with ‘Little Tree’, a song described as ‘….a reminder that everything is temporary, including your current self….’. That may be a downbeat concept to address, but nevertheless this is a life-affirming, celebratory folk-rock piece with layers of insistently rhythmic guitar, sparkling drums and a sensuous vocal performance that brings the lyric fully to life.

The words place the narrator and us in a continuing circle of eco-life ‘…as the Earth turns….’, ‘…..little tree springs forth from little seeds…’ and similar sentiments are thoughtfully described and subtly delivered, especially when the instrumentation slows and quietens during the chorus. It is an excellent track, the richness and depth increasing with each listen.

The short ambient/spoken atmospheric rush of ‘Tell Me’ links to ‘Silhouette’. Strangely soothing, this is a dark and moody piece about the end of a relationship. The poignant verses resolve into a strong chorus line as the gathering storm of dissonant guitar and synths build, despite a deceptively playful guitar figure floating above and appearing to mark the passing of time.

It is a contrast to the lead track so the package presents itself musically as a retro double ‘A- side’ single, along with a new long-form video due to be premiered soon….

Bryony Williams – “Growing/Fading” // Little Tree + Tell Me + Silhouette – YouTube

(2) Bryony Williams | Facebook

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The Harriets : A Little Something, EP released 7 May 2021

A rewarding new EP from Leeds based The Harriets, the follow up to their 2021 album ‘Hopefuls’, reviewed here

1.Little Something. This timeless and catchy pop single immediately draws you into the band’s world, where the songs are so intricate and carefully layered that they fold in on themselves with ambiguity and nuance, ‘…I’ll write whatever you like….inspired by the things that you like….you only have to say the word…..the stars will come out of the sky….’. The uncluttered musical arrangement elegantly carries the track along.

2. Days Like These. Probably my favourite on the EP, the lush piano and strings orchestration is the platform for an outstanding ballad. The reflective nostalgia of the vocal subliminally interweaves aspects of Lou Reed’s namechecked ‘Perfect Day’ to gorgeous effect.

3. The Lie. Like an excerpt from a low-key stage musical this is a conversational interlude with a loose and intimate jazz tone, built around a recurring piano line.

4. Jessie’s Song. Led by semi-grandiose piano, this is a strangely addictive song, like track one it self referential about the songwriting art ‘…and the words all come out wrong that I have penned…why should I carry on and why pretend…’. The two voices trade harmonies and viewpoints giving spontaneity and surprise all the way through.

5. For You. In contrast to some of the musical flourishes of previous tracks this starts off as a simple and joyous love song ‘….last night you were on my mind….like you are all the time…’ before an extended playout featuring horns, piano, taut drums and percussion, vocal chorus and a guitar solo. All crammed into four minutes it is a rich and satisfying manifesto for the many facets of the band.

Home – The Harriets (theharrietsband.com)

Emma Moore : the table, EP released 7 May 2021

An impressive new EP, full of celebration and melancholy, rockers and ballads, all held together by the insightful lyrics and versatile vocals of country-pop singer/songwriter Emma Moore.

1.Husbands or Kids. Strong country-rock opener, the verses stealthily roll along and build up before the assertive big choruses drive the points home ‘….I’m no tick off a list…or somebody’s side piece…tell me this ain’t all there is…’ 

2. Late to the Table. My favourite track on the EP with a moderate waltz time, graceful melody, some unpredictable chord movements and a great vocal performance leading to the hookline each time.

3. Waiting For You. Featuring acoustic guitar and piano, this wistful meditation is beautifully sung with accompanying harmonies and a heartbreaking middle-eight ‘…and I’m so sorryI hesitated….I could have been the one…’.

4. Blinded. A cinematic slice of country pop, with a brooding banjo creating a mood of suspicion ‘….he keeps secrets, you see mystery…he keeps you hidden, you see privacy….’

5. When. With the pedal steel to the fore, this irresistible song embraces two distinct themes of country music; cheating and questioning within a relationship. The uncertainty continues through the lyric ‘….you won’t say that’s what you did…you left one line to cross and now you hide behind it….’, all delivered elegantly in voice and music.

6.Match Made In Hell. Rocking track, sung as a sort of confrontational one-sided duet, ‘….you’ve got your pedestal… I’m the angel that fell….’ but ultimately underpinned with affection. Plenty of raucous noise from the full band featuring steaming slide guitar.

7.Ten Years A Stranger. A bonus on the vinyl-styled CD release, this is a quiet and thoughtful acoustic coda to the EP, allowing Emma’s expressive voice to fully shine through.

Emma Moore | Country Artist | Home

Graywave : Planetary Shift, EP released April 2021

This is the compelling new EP from Birmingham singer/songwriter/instrumentalist Graywave, (the performing name of Jess Webberley) following a string of creative singles released since 2019.

1.Dreaming. With a relaxed introduction the vocal soon sails in, with the guitars then extracting every ounce from the gliding swoop between the two chords that most of the song is built around. The vocal is luxuriant and elated and the final minute coda when the band let loose is an extra gift.

2.Swallow. Deeper and darker from the outset, but resolving into the insistent and memorable chorus lines.

3.Planetary Shift. Dreamy, haunting centrepiece of the collection with the vocal washing up on the seashore of atmospheric guitar, white noise and piano. The song remains fluid and changing, coalescing into firmer structures then back into an amorphous mix. Probably my favourite track on the EP.

4.Like Heaven. Multiple layers of sound are wrenched from the decibel dense guitar as the drums languidly punctuate the pace. Jess’s vocal soars through the mix; deliberately not escaping but melding into the whole.

5.Before. This addresses the subject of anxiety in the lyric while musically building on a mysterious, echoing cyclical countermelody. This blends with a percussive pattern that starts and stops like an expiring heartbeat. The final minute is a rich explosion of sound; this track crams volumes of emotion and highly charged dynamics into its short run time.

Graywave | Facebook

Artist Roster – (indiemidlands.co.uk)

Charlotte Young : Coffee and Conversations, EP released April 2021

A new EP from Birmingham based indie-country singer/songwriter Charlotte Young, a follow-up to ‘Blown Away’, released last year.

1.Remedy. With its driving melody, crisp production and big chorus this is a strong opener to the EP. Charlotte keeps the lyrical ideas flowing, conversational in style and plainly setting out the emotions hidden behind the words as the band add depth and nuance.

2.On The Loose. Accidently turn up the distant radio speaker introduction and then you suddenly get the full blast of this energetic slice of country rock. Probably my favourite on the EP it is a full road movie in its three and a half minutes, as Charlotte delivers a winning vocal performance, with full credit also to the sparkling guitar and pedal steel from the band.

3.Praying for Rain. With the poignant opening lines ‘….staring at the driveway where you drove away….wondering how we made those same mistakes…’ this is the big ballad centrepiece of the EP, all building to the desperate resolution of the heartbreaking ‘…..I’m just sitting here praying for rain…’. The unexpected guitar solo, middle-eight and quiet restatement of the chorus all add contrasts to this fine song.

4.Early Light. This one moves along nicely, it has a relaxed pace with a subtle but insistent beat. The lyrical atmosphere created ‘…..coffee and conversations as we walk down town…’ sounds very inviting.

5.Whiplash – Acoustic. A new version of a track from Charlotte’s previous EP; it still has a fairly full instrumentation but with the acoustic guitar at the fore there is plenty of space for the vocal. The catchy chorus stays in your mind as this excellent collection comes to an end.

Charlotte Young | Facebook

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