Tag Archives: EP

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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Beorma : Drown, single released 2 April 2021

Named after the founder of the city in the 7th Century, Birmingham duo Beorma have released ‘Drown’, the final track from ‘Virtual Emotionality’, their debut EP. The seven track collection is an amalgamation of smooth synthesiser and rhythms, veering between jazz, R&B and indie pop.

There is an emphasis on emotive vocals featuring some strong messages by singing and spoken word from the two voices. Highlights include the lush and stately but sinister 80s duet pop of ‘Control You’ (it is a gorgeous track, probably my favourite on the EP), as well as the sinuous summery vibe of ‘Right Behind You’.

Now ‘Drown’ is a more experimental piece, full of atmosphere, treated vocals and a cyclical chord sequence that lodges in your brain. With a loose structure the lyrics interweave as the voices drift in and out, juxtaposing descriptions of anxious feelings with subtle echoing keyboard chords and a heartbeat marking the time. The duo have again shown how to establish a clearly defined mood from the outset of the song.

Beorma | Facebook

Artist Roster – (indiemidlands.co.uk)

Gold Baby : Rabbits, EP released 26 March 2021

A new EP of indie light and shade from talented London trio Gold Baby, following on from a creative string of singles over the last couple of years.

1.Bodie Serene, shimmering guitar drives this track as the vocal from songwriter Siân cajoles and soars. The overall feeling seems to be one of alienation and disappointment but it is all beautifully done.

2. 2041 The quiet, agitated introduction and verses make you want to decode what is going on in this track ‘…there’s a man screaming in the hallway…and I can’t hear myself think…’ but when it gives way to a very noisy chorus you are carried along anyway.

3. Betty Previously released as a single this is a strange mixture of fantasy imagery with a sinister undertone ‘….let me tell you what happened…somebody ate my mother’s lipstick…somebody tried to read my palm….somebody called me….Cinderella so I hit the fire alarm….’. Musically the song structure pulls you in with its dramatic flourishes and winning melody lines.

4. Captain Dorego My favourite track on the collection, lyrical dreams to escape into ‘….carp fishing maybe bass…out of the stream ourselves at last…as idyllic as it seems….’ sit alongside darker thoughts ‘….can I sing in the small church choir…..fill it up with gasoline….light a match and wait for you to scream…’. It is a delicate treat, the words floats above gentle guitar with bass and drums that handle the poly-rhythmic backing perfectly. The song has its own dance too (see video link below)….

Gold Baby – Captain Dorego – YouTube

HOME | Gold Baby

Rosey Cale : Breathing Fire, EP released 18 March 2021

A new EP from Welsh alt-country singer Rosey Cale showcases her range of writing and performing styles across four excellent tracks.

1.Mary Jane. An anthemic full band rocker, with an assertive vocal lead, driven by a raw descending chord sequence to echo the resentment and anguish in the lyric, ‘….it’s eleven thirty two he’s still not home….he’s a cheater…’. Playing out with an abrasive guitar solo it is a strong opener.

2.Breathing Fire. To reflect the title this is another big blast of country rock, with more acerbic observational lyrics ‘…you walk in the room think everyone is after you…but you don’t see that everyone is rolling their eyes to your lies…’. The drums and organ fill in the sonic textures before the hypnotic ‘….you took, you stole…‘ refrain builds up to a grand finish.

3.Secrets. Gentle acoustic guitar heralds this folk-influenced ballad. Rosey imbues the timeless melody with authentic emotional resonance,‘…if I could take all of this pain from you I would…’. A subtle and gorgeous highlight of the EP.

4.Keeper. Rosey has previously recorded a Welsh version of this mid-tempo track (‘Ceidwad’) and whatever the language the optimism and spirit of the song shine through, riding on a poppy tune and addictive hookline. The lead slide guitar line duels and interweaves to great effect with the memorable vocal.

ROSEY CALE – Home

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Hannah Rose Kessler : My Theories On The Apocalypse, EP released 19 March 2021

Packed full of ideas lyrically and musically, UK singer songwriter Hannah Rose Kessler releases her new EP.

‘Don’t Worry’ starts with an acoustic loosening up then bursts into a pulsing chord rhythm over sparse drums. The opening line is like it is from a novel that you know you will keep reading ‘…my hands they melt away into the background…I follow you into the trees…‘ As expressive guitar patterns come and go the double vocal of Hannah leads us along a sinister path lyrically ‘….don’t worry my dear there’s no need to have fear…’.

‘I’m Alive’ keeps up the intensity and creativity, this time with strident keyboards to the fore. After the strenuous dazzle of the two openers, ‘Before The Fall’ presents evocative imagery in a looser song structure ‘….stuck in this entropy…we plunge into waves and rest on the shore…

There is much more; previously released single ‘Come Feel Me’ is reviewed here, spoken word song ‘Your Female Rage’ is full of hard-hitting points before finale ‘A Thousand Cuts’ features big, industrial slices of sound-gothic.

For the listener, the variation of genre, style and content is satisfyingly rich and unpredictable and Hannah is in absolute command of it all.

Hannah Rose Kessler | Facebook

Record label – Reckless Yes

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Jo Ash : Here, Then & Somewhere Else, EP released 9 March 2021

The new EP from Jo Ash is five haunting tracks mainly featuring solo piano, a contrast to her song-based solo recordings and performances fronting rock band Derecho.

Opener ‘Petals’ starts hesitantly with a simply-stated theme that develops into a broad and echoing soundscape. Though threaded through with melancholy it calls to mind yearning for open landscapes and escape, especially when a vocal line adds to the texture. ‘Enchanted River’ is a more introspective keyboard study, flowing and cyclical with a calm gentleness laced with a bit of darkness.

Synthesisers are featured on ‘Innocence’, adding a full string sound before Jo’s voice soars above it all in a stately waltz. I particularly like the relaxed pastoral atmosphere of ‘Unspoken’; free of time and place. ‘Orion’s Quest’ evokes a blend of limitless journeys and mythology all leading to the famous constellation. It is an epic six minutes, again driven by a piano chord sequence that keeps returning as other sounds drift in and out. Jo’s voice weaves through the cosmos, culminating in a dramatic passage halfway through before the track drifts off into space. It is certainly a spectacular finale to the collection.

An innovative bonus to buying the EP – it comes with a free short story to add to the mystique…..

http://www.joashmusic.com

Derecho : Beneath A Stained Glass Sky, LP released November 2019 | cambridgemusicreviews

Jo Ash : Constellations, LP released October 2018 | cambridgemusicreviews

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Mischa : New Beginnings, EP released February 2021

A track by track review of the excellent debut EP from rising UK country-pop singer/songwriter Mischa.

1.Do You Remember. Released as a single last year this is the most immediate track on the EP; a glorious combination of slow-burning verse gradually rising to a great big title hookline. The nuances of the tune are brought to life by Mischa’s versatile voice and the well-balanced instrumental production features a driving rhythm guitar, duelling with some bluesy lead lines.

2.Won’t Be Long. Slowing down for this ballad, piano and pedal steel set the tone as Mischa shows her vocal range from quiet meditation to soaring above the band.

3.If I Cried. The emotional centrepiece of the four tracks, a stately torch song where the straightforward melody is fully inhabited with a clear statement of heartbreak, ‘…if I cried….would you notice then?….would you stop or do it all again?….’ The powerful vocal performance inexorably draws the listener in to share the sorrow.

4.Moving On. One of the eternal themes of country music, the leaving behind of place or relationship connections to branch out. This track aligns the underlying regret of the verse with a cautious optimism in the punchy chorus. The quieter middle-eight sums it up ‘…you give me no reason to stay…so I’ll just walk away…’, before a final chorus leaves a strong impression of the confident voice and rich production found in these four songs.

Mischa Jankowska | Facebook

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Scatter : Disappear, EP released February 2021

A new four track EP from Scatter, the recording name for Stockholm based musician Erik Bergqvist (also part of Victorian Tin and Schaum).

1.Disappear. The mellow title piece features echoing electric piano with a late-night pace and a verse that takes its time to build up to the cryptic phrase ‘….gravity’s the same or slightly weakened thanks to old champagne….’, but there is less ambiguity about the key lines ‘…..and you’re gone so I might just also disappear….’. The whole track is framed with melancholy; reminiscent of some of the bleaker tones of the eighties UK charts where the pop gems emerged triumphantly from the music scenes of declining industrial towns.

2.Eyes Shut Down. Now sink into this track, a waltzing meditation on love and loss that seems to roll across a natural landscape filmed in black and white. A cello sound and brief guitar solo breaks through the mix but it is the soothing rhythm of the acoustic guitar that gently dominates.

3.Forgetfulness. This is an EP of textural variety, on probably my favourite song the fully electronic backing moves along animatedly as Erik’s vocal adds the emotional naturalism. It is akin to Mark Hollis’s velvet tones on tracks by atmospheric-electro pioneers Talk Talk.

4.The Seventh Stranger. A loosely structured melodic ballad; roving fretless bass, acoustic and electric piano and guitar, found voices and a double vocal weaving around to form an immersive five minutes.

Everlasting Records | Facebook

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Yellow Helen : The Honeymoon Suite, EP released November 2020

The debut EP from Edinburgh quartet Yellow Helen is a varied and rich mix….

1: I Know. The most immediate track on the EP, a confident swagger of 60s pop influences, retro guitars, echoing backing voices and an interplay between verse and chorus that interlocks perfectly.

2: Frills and Lace. A sinister waltz with acoustic guitar and organ as a platform for a complex and surreal lyric, ‘…..circumnavigate once you’re caught in the jaws of a grizzly bear….’, before an edgy guitar solo joins in the end build-up. An ambitious track, and on repeated listens very much an addictive treat.

3: Spooky. Never quite sure where this EP leads to next, this is a built around a lingering descending guitar figure, languid electric piano chords and another set of strange words. This could easily accompany a pastoral interlude in a 70s psychological thriller.

4: Honeymoon Suite. With a wide ranging bass line to the fore the title track is another mini-movie, with wordplay ‘….please concierge….don’t give me the urge to leave a hateful review….’ and a nice relaxed feel to the instrumentation. Reminding me of the eccentricities of current indie stylists Tugboat Captain and back to the acidic reflections of The Divine Comedy, this is a fine conclusion to this excellent EP.

Yellow Helen – Home | Facebook

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Three More For Christmas : released December 2020

Gold Baby : Looks Like A Cold, Cold Winter

This is a version of a lesser known Bing Crosby seasonal offering; it is superficially a cosy Christmas love song but there are some dark undertones too. Gold Baby have used the lyric of isolation to reflect where we are at the end of 2020, ‘….looks like a long, long winter…what do we care?….’, but ultimately a bit of tentative optimism to see us through. ‘…..far from you, I’ll make it through if I know you’re still there……’.

Whatever the messages of the words, the music is a mellow mix of gently glistening guitar and mellow bass and drums. The band showcase these simple and beautiful chord changes as Siân Alex delivers a sensitive, airy vocal laced with harmonies and wintry firelight.

All proceeds from the sale of this single will be donated to www.campaigntoendloneliness.org.

HOME | Gold Baby

Looks Like A Cold, Cold Winter | Gold Baby (bandcamp.com)

The Dears : Christmas Love

Canadian collective The Dears have packed plenty into this joyous five minutes; tubular and sleigh bells, catchy vocal call and exchange chorus along with heightened emotions and imagery, ‘I could have never imagined you’d say to me that night….behind the rumbles of the snowploughs on the buried streets of white….’. There are many varied sections, always returning to the timeless refrain ‘…you’re my only Christmas Love…’, then building up to a big finish with the full band in overdrive. There is even a contrasting B side, ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ set to a less familiar and melancholic melody. Hopefully these tracks will get an airing when I eventually see the band performing in Cambridge next November….

The Dears (facebook.com)

Fightmilk : Fightmilk & Cookies

While still waiting for the release of their new LP, power-punk quartet Fightmilk release a seven track EP of solo contributions and cover versions, with proceeds going to the Trussell Trust. The titles themselves sum up the acerbic wit of ‘(I’m Stuck at the) Work Christmas Party’ and ‘I’m Dreaming of a Christmas (Where You Just Explode)’ while ‘Happy Christmas (I Guess I’ll See You Next Year)’ is a bittersweet reflection on the state of the year, ‘….the second album’s finished, but we can’t go get a beer…I’d really love to spread some joy and cheer…by singing something loud for all to hear….and high-five the rest of Fightmilk without fear…’.

I’m not sure why Britney Spears’ My Only Wish (This Year) is not more of a playlist staple, so bassist Healey’s fuzzy pop version here is a very welcome revival. ‘Little Drummer Boy’ was always a bit of a strange song, with memories of the Bowie/Bing video. Probably less covered is ‘It Feels Like Christmas’ from the much loved ‘Muppet Christmas Carol’ movie; somehow here singer Lily manages to perform the whole range of parts. Then there is the very husky skiffle of ‘Driving Home For Christmas’ to bring this seasonal confection to an end…

Fightmilk | Facebook

Fightmilk (bandcamp.com)