Quill – Grey Goose Call (EP Review)

Quill are not only known for their unique musical style… they create a musical journey through the ages with their live set up. After listening to Grey Goose Call, it’s now a fact that they create the same energetic live essence throughout the studio recording. They sit comfortably within the celtic folk/rock genre and it’s safe to say, the latest line up have brought a fresh new sound to their music. With Grey Goose Call written by the band themselves, the 4 songs take us into a dark, but warming entrance to what feels like a new beginning.

The title track of the EP begins with a gentle goose calling, before strong harmonies that really remind of Fleetwood Mac’s tone’s enter. The band have adapted to their influences through time, but made sure their sound becomes so fresh to listen to. For a 6:12 minutes long song, it captivates you all the way through. As the song dynamically builds, the sound becomes quite diverse and intricate. The bass comfortably sits in the mix, but you can constantly hear the pulse repeating. I must say, the production is really intense and in your face with elements of Fairport Convention shining through. Having string instruments gives the song a complete different style. I personally feel if the strings weren’t in this track, it would sound more like a pop orientated track. Joy’s emotional vocals tell the story of simply hearing the “Grey Goose Call.” Maybe the goose is a symbolic structure of something? It could be a metaphor for a cry for help. In my opinion, the percussion and drums replicates the simplicity of the song, but by making it sound complex. The rhythm makes it sound kind of African and upbeat. This is a very strong song to set the bar quite high for what sounds like a warming welcome to the sound of Quill. The song ends just as it begins, indicating that yes, this is end, but it’s certainly not over yet.

“Elephant in the Room” begins with footsteps creeping up into a simple 4/4 beat. The guitars sound heavily influenced by old progressive rock tones, similar to bands like Genesis. Quill take a simple blues sounding song and subtle add tasty melodic guitar lines over the top, making it an extremely versatile song. The chorus is moody and has the ability to haunt anyone with the harmonies generating new, elegant parts throughout. An elephant in the room is a metaphor for an obvious problem in a room basically, and I really like how Quill can take a personal matter but make the problem not known. It leaves the audience asking “what is the actual problem?” Questioning an audience is a good thing in my opinion, because they are wanting to know more about your music, indicating them to keep on listening. I love how this song isn’t rushed and is played to indicate an emotion of love. When the instruments are all cut out to just the drums, it makes me feel that anything could happen next. The drums completely stop to just Joy singing “elephant in the room” which end with a subtle breath like sigh making the audience realise that after all this time, the actual problem and the elephant in the room, was simply the singer.

The subtly comes through this song with Joy’s vocals sounding exceptionally emotional. Having someone’s affection is the most warming feeling in the world and I really like how Quill have managed to replicate this feeling through “Skin on Skin.” This song is moody in the essence that it really grips you to hold onto every part of the song. All of the members of Quill have had a memorable history in music and I really like how they bring all their stories into one, creating a really big influence to their fans. This song would really be a lovely wedding dance for a couple, as the comfort of the song is so calming. There’s genuinely no negativity shining in this song, making it really a big moment on the EP. Dynamically, the song doesn’t build as much as the others on the EP, but it works so well to keep such a calming momentum.

The last track on the EP is a fist pump for wanting love. The whole EP is situated round love and the different aspects that you want. We have Skin on Skin which is the comfort of affection, whereas the vibe I’m getting from “Little Affection” is needing to be loved. It’s the longest track on the EP and it constantly builds with influences of world music being mirrored constantly. The rhythm of the song just makes you tap your feet and really dive into the music. “I forgotten what it felt like to fall in love” takes us into a new element of the song; really needing this love otherwise things could fall apart. I personally feel that the singer is needing this love to carry on, it’s her well-being and soul on the line, if she doesn’t get this love, something bad could happen. It makes me think; what is she actually in love with? could it be being in love with the meaning of love? a friend? a piece of music? It could be anything, which makes me like this a whole lot more. The sense of not knowing what the topic is throughout the EP makes me drawn to Quill’s music more. We never really know what the actual concept Joy is singing about which is great, we’re just left with the topic of love. This track is one that the whole band wrote together which strangely enough, makes the song so much bigger than the others on the track. It’s definitely the stand out, rock ballad of the EP. It’s proggy in the aspect that the concept is here, there and everywhere.

As a whole, the EP is truly wonderful. I’m lucky enough to be supporting Quill on the 8th June at the Artrix Theatre in Bromsgrove.

The musicians on the album consist of Joy Strachan-Brain on vocals, Kate McWilliam on violin and backing vocals, Abby Brant on keyboards and backing vocals, Tony Kelsey on guitars and backing vocals, Matt Worley on bass and backing vocals, Andy Edwards on the drums and the ELO legend, Bev Bevan on percussion… we now realise the secret behind Quill’s full sound, the extremely talented musicians behind the songs. 

Favourite Tracks: Elephant in the Room, Skin on Skin, Little Affection
Score: 7.5/10

https://quillbanduk.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/quilluk/
http://www.quilluk.com/

 

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Ronald Maas – Aries (EP Review)

Ron’s been an important sideman for sometime now more than a frontman, but things have definitely changed with this new adventure. His first EP under his name, the four track EP, “Aries” is exciting and blends in all of Ron’s skills that he’s learnt so far. This doesn’t mean that he’ll stop being a sideman, he will still be honouring both positions. With his music being described as spaced out Supertramp, I couldn’t agree more.

The EP starts with a lovely song called “Too Close To See.” It’s quirky and features really clever chord changes throughout. The song topic is really interesting thought out as it could mean that sometimes, we are too blind to see what it’s front of us. It’s the famous saying that we all know. Some good things have been under our nose the whole time sometimes. The vocals are phrased in a way that it gives it more of a progressive feel to the song, creating a Porcupine Tree meets pop vibe. Vocals in any song don’t necessarily need to be powerful to get a message across and this song clearly delivers that. Ron’s vocals aren’t dynamically powerful, but they’re emotionally as he’s singing about something that he personally feels strong about. “Any of us could clearly understand it, but none of us are far enough to see” could mean that perhaps things are really easy to understand once you get your head around it, but sometimes we need to be further down the line to get the understanding understood. A wacky example of this could be; a child believing in the easer bunny, but as they grow up, they understand that it’s not real.

I’m getting Jamie Cullum vibes from the next track “Oh Darling Won’t You” with it being jazz influenced, with still the pop elements too. Contemporary pop is how I’d personally describe the pop side of Ron’s music, seeing as it’s definitely more elegant than chart pop music. It’s a sad love song which deals with suffering and gives off a “oh darling, won’t you please help me ease my pain” feel to the song. The vocal melody doesn’t change much throughout the verses which leaves it sounding more simple. I would have liked to have heard different verses sang differently. The choruses for any song should always be prominently shown to help the listeners remember, but I feel the chorus in this song isn’t as powerful as intended. Saying that, the song is still great, I just feel there could have been a lot more to it.

“Rustle in the Yard” starts off just like a normal pop track would, but then it goes to a prominent minor fall and it gives the song a whole new direction. This song has the same pop element throughout as the others have done so far, but the electric guitar in the background gives it more of a rich, jazz-blues tone to it, which is nice to hear another influence come through Ron’s music. It’s upbeat, energetic and fits nicely to the soundtrack of my day as I’m currently sat, reviewing this EP out in the garden on a sunny day, and it definitely fits the environment. I feel Ron intended the lyric “there’s a rustle in the yard” to be the hook line, but it appears to be more the lyric “you are wondering, that is what it starts with.” The intricate chord changes in this hook line really captures this major part of the song more and more each time you hear it.

The melodic and eerie piano carries throughout the same jazz/pop influence in “Lines in the Darkness” as all of the other tracks on the EP does. This is probably the best track on the whole EP purely because of the power behind it. Drawing lines in the darkness is such a clever topic to sing about because, how can we actually see lines in the darkness? Our eyes can’t adapt fully to being in the darkness. Do the lines ever end? It could be more about an endless, exhausting battle of trauma. The brass section in the song really gives it such a big sound making it have a more traditional, 1930’s jazz kind of sound to it. I really admire how Ron has done more of this EP by himself, except for the artwork, mixing, drums, trombone and trumpet. Lines in the Darkness is a really nice close to a great EP and a lovely debut for Ron’s frontman works.

Ron must be excited for the future and this EP could really put him on the map.

Favourite Tracks: Too Close To See, Rustle in the Yard, Lines in the Darkness
Score: 7/10

http://www.ronald-maas.co.uk/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKddfbxRpGfEa1deXR8y1gQ

Shaun Gambowl Walsh & the Plagiarists – The Broth (EP Review)

“The Broth” came out in July 2017 being Shaun Gambowl Walsh & the Plagiarists second release. Let’s just say, this band are not for the plain hearted, innocent people of the world. With their genre sitting comfortably in the space punk category, they’re known for causing controversy with their music. Bringing humour and explicit content into their lyrics, they scream with attitude. They call themselves “Britain’s most hated band,” but my goodness, they pull it off well.

We start the EP off with “The Broth.” A broth is known to be a soup consisting of ingredients cook in stock and that’s completely the song in a nutshell more a less. “Too many cooks spoil the broth, but many hands make light work” is the only lyric in the whole of the song. The song itself is spoken with two guys having a kind of argument about the “broth”. It’s an unusual song subject, but something about it works. Just before halfway through, the spoken word comes to a stand still and we’re then entered with a space like instrumental which reminds of how it feels to be stuck in a “daze.” Could this song be drug related? Perhaps… it can mean anything you want it to be. That’s the best thing with music, as Dave Grohl once said “You can sing a song to thousands of people, and they can sing it back to you with thousands of different meanings.”

“In Cahoots” starts with a minor riff that is quite creepy. Before watching the music video, I felt this song could be related to alcohol purely by the loose instrumentation to the song, and I was right. We all know the night before when you’re out drinking with your friends is usually a good night, but when we get too much alcohol in our system, some of us suffer big time the next. The video shows the band on what I could only imagine being a “binge.” “The past few days” lingers and is repeated constantly to begin with, this could show that the past few days have been feeling like they’ve gone round in circles. When the lyrics start coming in as a normal song, we’re introduced properly to the singer’s accent, which reminds me a bit of the West Midlands. The commonness of the voice really adds so much flavour to the song, making it drown in a “cool” attitude. “The drugs are on tap and the booze is flowing” completely confirms that the band are on a “binge.” As the song progresses, it gets heavier and simulates the “binge” dragging on with “tick tock” being said in the background of the music. With the song being 5:35, it’s quite a long track, but without it being so long, it wouldn’t like we’re in this “binge” ourselves. The weirdness of the song really captures what “paranoia” and even “anxiety” feels like.

The timing of the next song is quite off-putting, giving the song it’s on edge. “Research Chemical Generation” seems to be about society, maybe even the government, giving us things to try like “we’re the guinea pig population living in frustration and we seem to be bearing the brunt of it all.” I can completely get where they’re coming from and the message behind this track is really interesting. “Two headed Ted should be dead but now he’s a zombie instead” is a lyric that shows that society/the government really don’t care about us really. We could all die tomorrow and they would still think they’re doing a “good job.” The eerie timing of the song really makes it uneasy to listen to, but something about it just makes you keep listening. From 4:04, the song goes into what I could only imagine being a “cloud of smoke,” it’s eerie and seems to be the band’s “iconic part” to some of their tracks.

Well, we can all really here what they’re saying in “Who’s Scott Theket?”
This track is definitely the band bringing their drug humour side into their music, and it is kind of funny but very cringeworthy. This song is probably the most controversy of all the songs on the EP with the band sharing their politics views of Theresa May and also sharing explicit words. The voices are all over the place, but because the track is many about drugs, it works as a whole. You can hear their rebelling, punk nature come through. It’s a big “middle finger up” song.

The EP finishes with a ring tone from what sounds like a really, old brick phone with the singer replying to whoever’s on the phone “cool, I’ll be out in a sec.” The EP sounds rushed, but it works. This is the bands sound and I don’t know how they manage it, but they really do pull it off well.

Favourite Tracks: In Cahoots, Research Chemical Generation
Score: 6.5/10

https://www.facebook.com/shaungambowlwalshofficial/

Southbank Crows – Wild Ones (EP Review)

With Wild Ones being their second EP, you can tell the boys of Southbank Crows really do live for the music. Having started the band back in early 2016, a group of guys met at a blind audition and have been playing music together ever since. They got their name from a place where they wrote music, rehearsed and recorded it – London’s Southbank. With influences coming from alternative rock to country-pop americana, they sit nicely in these genres with elements of modern-day rock music from the vocals. Wild Ones was released in November 2017, with it being only a 3 track EP, I’m excited to hear if they have a big sound in these “small” songs.

Runaway Boots is the first track off the EP and it seems to be about a girl who the singer admires and really wants them to be a part of their life. Her boots are distinctive and even her red dress. Vocally, the voice reminds me a bit of Rob Damiani (Don Broco) which definitely gives the song a bit more of a modern flavouring to it. The singer does have his own style though for sure. The lyrics roll of the singer’s tongue which makes it easier for the audience to hear too. It’s a really catch song that feels somewhat nostalgic. It definitely has flavouring to early 2000’s music and seems heavily influenced by Wheatus, Weezer & Fountains of Wayne. It’s nice to hear the lads of Southbank Crows bring the good vibes into their music. As the song is very short, at only 2:11, it makes the song feel a tad rushed, but it still works really well as a whole. I feel the song could be about how the singer ran away from their home but all they thought about was the girl.

The next track, “Things We Learn” has a similar kind of meaning of wanting to “escape this town and move to a city full of those lights”. We all get to a point in our lives when we feel somewhat down about our home town and wanting to find somewhere new and refreshing to go/live. I think the boys of Southbank Crows found their new meaning (hometown) in this song. Even though people move away and relocate, we al like to feel safe at “home”. The chorus explains how the guy “took a cab downtown to learn how to breathe,” this could indicate getting some fresh air and going for a walk to clear their head. They also “took a flight to the other side of the world where he learned to love”… after all, the world isn’t so big and lastly, “in a midtown bar, he thought this place felt like home”. Moral of the story, you can go anywhere in the world find a meaning. It’s another nostalgic song, maybe not of things that have happened in the past, but of the things to come instead.

The last track of the EP is also the title track, “Wild Ones”. This track seems to be a more negative song really, a song that is thinking purely of their life “what a wonderful life to get to my sins, just follow that kiss”. Perhaps the singer thinks that being in love will solve things. The song feels slightly forced and that it’s trying to hard. I personally feel this song is about a couple that’s more one-sided and the one person is really trying to make their relationship work. “Punch me in the face so me and my friends have something positive to talk about”, this lyric is definitely an oxymoron purely because how can a punch in the face be positive? I’m not entirely sure who the Wild Ones are as this song feels a bit lost and it’s not really getting to the point, but whoever they are, they ended to be happy with themselves first to then be happy with somebody else. Musically, the song climbs throughout and ends with soft chords to indicate the ending. “I can’t ask god for forgiveness, I’m pretty sure we don’t get on, I’ll put my brave face on”, it’s a sad ending to a song but proves that something is wrong and makes me want to find out the true meaning behind this song.

The EP is quite short and doesn’t really have a whole big sound to it. It seems to be mainly about romance and trying so hard to perfect a relationship. I do like the songs and think they work really well. As a band, they’re pretty tight and create a really nice, warm, pop sound. It’s a bit generic at time,s but the talent shines throughout.

Favourite Tracks: Runaway Boots, Things We Learn
Score: 6.5/10

https://www.facebook.com/southbankcrows/

Kayleigh Morgan – Settling (EP Review)

Due for release on April 7th, Kayleigh Morgan’s new EP, “Settling” is one to definitely check out. The EP is soaked in motivational lyrics and dealing with issues of mental health. I’m absolutely loving how Kayleigh is so personal with her songs and gets so deep into the lyrics. She keeps you interested from the start, all the way through till the end. Her vocals are distinctive and has a hint of an accent that reminds me of pop-punk artists such as Blink 182 and Jimmy Eat World, which is really interesting and so energetic. The songs though remind me slightly of early Taylor Swift and what Avril Lavigne would sound like if her songs were more acoustic based.

We start the EP off with “Break”. It’s emotional and you can feel everything that Kayleigh is pleading for. Considering the track is fairly upbeat and feels positive, the lyrics dive into a real dark mood of regret and wanting to “lie in this mistake”. Musically, the track reminds me of what the Goo Goo Dolls had with “Iris”, but Kayleigh has really made this song feel so private with lyrics such as “I’d love to hurt you, to raise the gross, to tie the noose”. Being “broken” can be about anything, a bad relationship, a bad time in your life, physically anything, but I love how we don’t find out what exactly is wrong. The song leaves us tense and waning to find out more.

We all love “Saturdays”, it’s probably the best day of the whole week for myself and for a lot of other people too. The song is motivational and happy, it really makes me want to get stuff done that I procrastinate with in my life. It reminds me a bit of Tea & Toast by Lucy Spraggan. Anyway, Saturdays are a happy day for most people as they don’t usually work weekends, and for a musician, Saturdays are a big part of our lives because of gigs. It’s nice to hear a diverse sound for an acoustic song with upbeat drums being a prominent part of the song with interesting fills. The song itself is a bit cheesy but it works really well as a whole and sits lovely on the EP.

Bed” tells the story about wanting to stay in bed as we have no motivation to get stuff done sometimes. The song itself gives off a vibe of Where is My Mind? by the Pixies, not lyrically, but musically. It’s a really lovely song, and heavily pop orientated. I love how Kayleigh gives you the subject of what she’s singing about, but at the same time doesn’t give too much detail to why she wants to stay in bed all day. Mental illnesses make you want to stay in bed all the time and cry, but this song certainly doesn’t.

“Touch me, I need a little proof that I still exist to you..” is the first lyric of “Ghost” and already it really does make you feel something. I feel this song could be about a relationship that went wrong or perhaps it was only one-sided. Not having honesty in a  relationship is awful and you should get out of there while you can. It’s a real soft song that could be the ballad of the whole EP. Dynamically, it builds and then strips down to just acoustic guitar at the end. It’s elegantly done and so powerful to hear her sing. When her voice breaks at times, you can really tell that she means every word that she says.

“Positively Pissed” is probably my favourite track on the whole EP because of how comical it is. She even shows us that this is really a joke with the lyric “here’s my moody disposition, over a cheery chord progression, to pretend that I sound positive.” Being funny can be so powerful at the same time as it gets the point across straight away. This song also proves a point that a lot of people say to others with mental health issues to “get over it” and that “you’ll be ok” when really if it was that simple, I’m sure everyone would be happy already! Saying “cheer up” to someone with mental health issues is the worst thing to do mate, so Kayleigh issues this message by simply saying “Jog on!”

The last track on the EP is the title track “Settling” which tells us about feeling lost. It’s not perfect, but the imperfections of this song really captures the track as a whole. Kayleigh’s vocals are completely bare with no vocal effects and that really makes the song so raw compared to the other tracks.

Top work from Kayleigh who seems like she’s been through some hard times, but without those, she wouldn’t have written these great songs. As Ronan Keating sang “Life is a rollercoaster just gotta ride it!” 

Favourite Tracks: Break, Bed, Positively Pissed
Score – 7/10

http://www.kayleighmorganmusic.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/KayleighMorganMusic/

https://www.instagram.com/kayleighmorganmusic/

Leah McFall – Ink (EP Review)

Leah McFall not only captured my heart 5 years ago on the second series of the Voice with her distinctive voice, but she captured a few other hearts too. She really doesn’t get the recognition that she deserves. She does stunning cover renditions of songs from “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynorand “Loving You” by Minnie Riperton. She is known mostly though for her ability to sing in the whistle register, which for any singer is hard and rare. After the Voice, she collaborated with her “voice” coach Will.I.Am on “Home” in 2014. It didn’t chart very well and Leah was dropped very discreetly from her label that she was signed too after the Voice. She returned in September 2016 with “Wolf Den” which was released independently and which would later end up on the Ink EP released independently on the 27th March 2017. I’ve decided to review this EP now as I’ve been meaning to for quite a while, plus I really wanted to sit down and just write down what I think of it.

“Ink” is everything we’d want from Leah purely because it’s electronic and suited for her voice. The production is intense and powerful, everything that chart music isn’t. I don’t understand why this didn’t chart as well as some of the stuff that IS charting so well! The lyrics may be about how she was dropped from the label, or perhaps it could be about a personal experience. Everything is in time and there’s no incorrect parts. Everything is perfect for the song as it’s all programmed to suit it. That’s the thing with electronic music, every drum beat has been programmed perfectly which is effective but there’s something about a real life drummer playing music that makes me connect with music more. This song is definitely my favourite off the whole EP and really defines Leah’s music.

Happy to be human, not a machine” really captures the essence of the song “Happy Human”. I find it somewhat strange though that the song is talking about how she’s happy to be a human, but the song is programmed to have a kind of mechanical feel. Maybe that was intended? If so, genius idea. I’d be intrigued to hear these songs just unplugged with Leah and an instrument like a piano drowned in reverb. Both the songs so far have featured Leah’s whistle register which just brings chills down my spine, her voice is really faultless. It’s a very catchy and snappy song that showcases the simplicity of Leah’s songwriting.

“Bottle It”  is straight to the point. We all bottle emotions inside when we don’t want to bother people with our emotions/problems. The piano comes back for this song with memorable phrases from the title track; Ink. The pan pipes are really cool in this song but I guess we’re all used to hearing them now in mainstream chart music. Maybe Leah made them cool again back in at the beginning of 2017? I don’t understand how this song in particular wasn’t number one in the charts? It captures the essence of a clever chart electronic/pop song. This is so much better than something that Camilla Calbello would release, in my opinion.

Next we have the biggest ballad of the EP that showcases Leah’s vocal ability above and beyond. “Colours at a Funeral” is a bit repetitive and nothing really captures me instantly. The song does get better as it progresses though. Leah gets really aggressive towards the end of the song. “How come I am standing on the grave” is emotional and deep. Maybe Leah had her heart completely broken and what better to get your emotions out then writing a song? It’s a sad, love song, but I’m intrigued to know what it’s definitely about lyrically.

I love every little thing you say” sums up “Language”. It’s an upbeat song about having a connection with somebody and you even have your own language. They understand each other perfectly. Lovely rhythms in this song too. The upbeat hook of “every little thing you say” is really quite powerful and the song itself is too. It’s nice to hear a positive, happy side to Leah as most of the songs on this EP have been fairly downbeat and slow, which doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing! This type of music isn’t the type of stuff that I would go straight to listen too, but I do actually really like the EP, I can really connect with Leah’s songs.

“Wolf Den” is a single that Leah released before the EP which features on the EP too and it really does round off the EP nicely. The rhythms are really quite cool and well produced. There’s no faults at all. It’s a bit too robotic and compressed for me at times though as I like hearing imperfections. It’s a flavour of electronic mixed with trip/hop, definitely one of Leah’s best songs.

Lovely EP and really showcases Leah’s funky side, which we already know she has.
If you like this EP, you should definitely check out my friend SEYD, her songs are dark, electronic pop… absolutely stunning!

Favourite Tracks: Ink, Happy Human, Language, Wolf Den
Score: 7/10

http://leahmcfall.com/