Tag Archives: EP

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/

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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/

Toria Wooff : Drako, EP released 2017

Toria Wooff is a singer/songwriter and guitarist who describes herself as having ‘….a 70s black magic folk influence and spider fingerpicking style…’. That is an excellent description of these four self-penned and carefully crafted tracks, delivered with intensity and feeling.

The opening track describes ‘Drako’, a malevolent presence who ‘…turns the tides just to watch you drown….grows the trees just to watch them fall down…’ set to some relentless guitar picking with added slide and an acoustic bass. ‘Author Song’ is slower with satisfyingly complex guitar and Toria giving her voice full rein including some of her distinctive sliding phrasing.

‘June’ is a hypnotic delight, with electric counter-melody intermittently weaving around the unstoppable waltz rhythm and Toria’s intimate storytelling vocal performance.
The ode to ‘James Edward’ is probably the most impassioned singing on display here; a soulful and ethereal ballad that balances delicate guitar figures with a timeless folk-lyric that drifts away into the far distance….

https://www.facebook.com/toriawooff/

Vic Allen : Between The Lines, EP released February 2018

Vic Allen is a singer/songwriter/guitarist from Norwich, making a name for herself in the flourishing UK new-country/folk scene. This set of four songs is a follow-up to ‘The Missing Piece’ EP from 2016. Opening track ‘Quit’ is a melancholy tale of the end of a relationship, woven through with resignation and reality. The gentler guitar work in the verses steps up into the sweeping but controlled chorus and the video partly filmed on the vast and strangely empty beaches of the Norfolk coast symbolises better times now gone. ‘Bittersweet’ is affecting in its deceptive simplicity, with some subtle vocal harmonies.

The title track is all about escape into the wide open spaces and an unknown future, a preferable alternative to a life trapped ‘Between The Lines’, set to a more conventional US country sound of instrumentation and vocal stylings than the rest of the EP. It is a fine soundtrack to the road-trip video that accompanies the music. ‘Kids’ is Vic’s best vocal performance, full of heartfelt mellow nostalgia for lost time over counterpointing guitar figures and a haunting hookline.

It is an impressive EP, four contrasting tracks that showcase Vic Allen’s expressive voice and songwriting potential.

https://www.vicallenmusic.com/

Laura Mardon : Black Rainbow, EP released January 2018

Laura Mardon describes herself as a ‘softly spoken Australian folk-punk songwriter’, so the titles of London boroughs on this EP may at first be disorientating; but she was born and raised in Kentish Town before she eventually embraced a new life on the Gold Coast. Her earlier experiences form the lyrical backbone of these very personal confessional songs, underpinned by sensitive acoustic guitar work.

‘Borough’ features minimalist accompaniment and a lyrical reminiscence that stops and starts the musical backing. Never has ‘…took a bus towards Deptford…’ sounded like such an inviting proposition as on the next track but the bleak words ultimately reveal an empty experience. She then slows down to the waltz of ‘Camberwell’, with a bitter and ambiguous lyric giving an extra emotional weight.

Worthy of a novel opening line ‘Brighton’ begins with ‘… I stole a bible from my hotel room when I ran away from London…’ then the disillusioned narrator escapes the traumas of New Cross to seek a possible destiny at the ocean side. Laura says “Living on the Gold Coast is like living in a permanent holiday vortex”, and the final track Gold Coast is much more optimistic, with positively upbeat guitar picking and a sparkling inflection in the voice.

An EP of spiritual and physical odyssey; it gains in depth with every repeated listen.

http://www.lauramardon.com/