Tag Archives: EP

Hydra Lerna, EP released December 2018

A new self-produced EP from Norwich based singer/songwriter/instrumentalist Hydra Lerna, building musical textures around her harp-playing and electronic treatments.

1. Reckless A distant tone introduces a recurring loop figure on the harp, other sounds drift in and out but the gorgeous vocal really lifts the song; understated but intense ‘…it’s clear that I know what I want and it’s becoming an addiction, you’re becoming my addiction….‘ The soaring chorus melody carries all before it and electronic percussion patterns and bass pedals help to build up the drama. This a stunning start to the EP.

2. Angel v. Psycho This is a bit more sparse and spiky with a processed voice, creating a darker atmosphere and never quite revealing where it is going.

3. Distraction This short analogue-toned electronic interlude floats dreamily in some alternative space, gradually adding the layers and the repeated title to enhance the mystery.

4. Hydra – Remix Back to a more conventional song structure here for this description of a relationship intertwined with a lyrical identification with the ‘Hydra of Lerna’ of Greek and Roman mythology. The staccato musical core of the track flows into a busy percussive chorus ‘…you’ve got power but I’ve got poison, I can take you down…’.

5. Birdcage – Remastered A waterfall of lovely harp triplets roll through the start and are never far away in this anthemic piece. A lyric of escape gives way to an instrumental coda; this is another track that shows the creativity, imagination and potential of this talented performer.

https://hydralerna.com/

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Diving Station : Feather Mouth, EP released December 2018

A new EP from Manchester four-piece Diving Station, an engrossing collection of acoustic and electric soundscapes.

1. You’re Not Listening As a guitar sound arrives from a distance singer Anna McLuckie immediately pins down the sense of the track with her jazzy vocal stylings. The distinctive harp appears after a minute or so, adding an unearthly texture to the constantly changing instrumentation. The other band members drift in and out with vocal and musical contributions to a song that never follows a predictable path.

2. Taking Tongues A beautiful combination of harp and acoustic guitar sets this gorgeous track on its way. Deceptively sailing along on a smooth tide of restrained acoustic folk the rest of the band suddenly crash in with an electric guitar and percussion outburst; even the harp gets aggressive. The calm after the storm is a glorious vocal coda.

3. When I Arrived It Was Raining With a title like the opening line of an inviting novel, this is another track to lose yourself in its many sections and moods. A lyrical evocation of homecoming and longing is at times accompanied by a sparse but always carefully judged instrumentation; impressively towards the end the harp and guitar harmonics create the sound of raindrops…

4. Tour Guide A dream-like and anthemic end to the EP, driven by a sustained and emotional vocal as the band create layers of sound patterns underneath, gradually leading to a gentle play-out as the finale to this fine collection of songs.

https://www.facebook.com/divingstationmusic/

Flaming June : The Firework Maker’s Daughter, EP released December 2018

The long-awaited new EP from acoustic indie-folk band Flaming June; driven by the compositions of singer/guitarist Louise Eatock. In the spirit of traditional folk themes of protest and comment these four excellent songs champion ‘…female spirits that break the mould…’

1. Firework Maker’s Daughter A mid-tempo rousing track, with the violin interweaving its magic through the acoustic guitar and restrained percussion. Based on a short story by Philip Pullman, Louise delivers an adventurous lyric that on the surface describes the title character aspiring to follow an unconventional career path but spreads into broader imagery of justice and ambition.

2. Oblivion Instantly conjuring up images from Hogarth’s ‘Gin Lane’ and edgier parts of historic novels this brisk music takes the listener into the midst of communities where the downtrodden escape from a difficult real life in the 19th Century. Short instrumental punctuations, an excellent double-tracked vocal, the dense texture of the violin again and especially a chorus of ‘…laudanum lovers love like no other…but they can’t remember how it feels…’ lift the three minutes into something special.

3. Drunken Assassin A lighter and more upbeat atmosphere musically but the words move into dark territory of introspection on loneliness and addiction within a relationship. The lyric pulls no punches ‘…if only you weren’t drinking yourself half to death we could live happily ever after…’

4. Women’s Battalion The pivotal track on the EP, a commemoration of the centenary of the 1918 general election, the first election following the enfranchisement of middle-class women over the age of 30. It was also the first time that working class men, although not working class women, were allowed to vote, so the song includes the continuation of the struggle for equality, extending it as far as the present day. The relentless marching pace of the song and spirited vocal performance push all before it, with fine contributions from cajón and violin.

https://www.facebook.com/flamingjuneuk

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

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/