Audrey – EP (Review)

Playing in and around Hull, as Audrey, the original rock and roll band are destined to be stars. The band started off as a jam between the songwriter and drummer, then before they knew it, a 4 piece band were in the pipelines. They promise to hold an energetic and engaging live set up and you can purely hear that in their studio work too. Released only last Saturday (20th October), the hugely anticipated EP is strong, with them completely selling out their EP launch too.

The powerhouse that is “See the Light” enters sounding like a pure, live session recorded while the band were in their element of just jamming together. They create a contrast of classic rock influences such as Tom Petty & The Rolling Stones, which highlights strongly with this track. Vocal screams from the singer are portrayed in a way that you can hear every emotion he’s singing. As for the song subject, it’s never really put down onto paper what it is. I feel that it’s about something along the lines of trying to get out of something you don’t want to be involved in and seeing the light is a way that you know that everything is going to be ok in the end. 

“She Says” was released as their debut single, and it’s a proper bluesy number. The instrumentation reminds me of ZZ Top mixed with an Oasis 90’s rock song structure. There’s a psychedelic aura going on through this song that takes you through a type of haze. It’s definitely the most catchiest song on the record so far purely because the rhythm is in your face and there’s no escaping it. She Says seems to be about a relationship gone sour and this song is the revenge track. Similar to something that Alanis Morissette did with the whole of Jagged Little Pill…

“Watch Me Go” is more alternative rock than rock n roll. With comparisons to Foo Fighters, this track really showcases how well the band gel together. Everything is neatly put together with the big arrangement. My favourite part has to be when everything slowly fades away and we’re left with a guitar squeal into a lovely, slow solo. The solo is covered with a subtle fuzz and a quick delay after. As the solo gradually goes on, the song starts building again. A roaring scream from the lead vocalist exclaims that the section has come to an end and the real breakdown evolves. The 5:04 minute song comes to an end with a face melting solo… Lovely work.

“Glad to Be” is a completely different approach to their music and was not what I was expecting their last song to be like. It surprised me that much that it’s actually become my favourite track off the EP. Versatility shines through this song as it’s folky feel tells us a story of love. Audrey have really captured the essence that the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin did with their live shows… they’d rock it up for a bit, then halfway through, would strip down their songs and make an acoustic set. It’s a real clever thing to do as you get two different kinds of people, who like different types of music listening to your music. As a whole, I’m really glad to have reviewed this EP because of it being so pure. You can literally feel every emotion.

Favourite Tracks: See the Light, She Says, Glad to Be
Score: 7/10

https://www.facebook.com/audreytheband/

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The Dollymops – Gap Year Tourists (Review)

You may never have heard of The Dollymops, but for any newbies, they’re a 4 piece, indie-punk band from Oxford. Drawing influences from the classic indie prodigies that are The Libertines, The Strokes, The Clash and that small band from Manchester called Oasis, The Dollymops second EP has that refreshing indie sound that every indie band strives to have. While still sounding quite vintage, the band have modernised the noughties indie sound with attitude.

“Plastic Proletariat” tells a story of a plastic (in other words “fake”), working class man. You know the band are quite angry with who ever this song is about with them even calling him a “condescending twat.” The angst and the pure indie accent that the singer portrays in this song identifies the song as a pure indie anthem. You can tell from the moment the song starts that this is such an important track in the Dollymops discography. Perhaps it could be a stepping stone towards a more rock and roll approach to their music. 

“Pied Piper” instantly reminds me of elements from The Kooks. It’s an upbeat, bouncy song that makes you tap your foot from the get go. As the vocals are introduced, I can’t help but think that Sean Stevens (lead vocalist) sounds similar to Morrissey. As for the instrumentation, it’s pretty straight forward all the way through and doesn’t really escalate. The subject of the song is situated about a “Pied Piper” and again, doesn’t really escalate to explain the true meaning. Perhaps it could be a metaphor and the pied piper is simply someone who encourages people to follow them and copy their actions. It’s never really stated properly what it’s about, making the audience feeling a little bit unsure of what’s going on. 

3 seconds of pure silence introduces “Addicts” before a melodic guitar riff enters with an identifiable punk tone. The chord progression is moved quickly and feels slightly rushed over the vocals. As the whole band enters, the mix of the song sounds like the band have recorded a live version in a garage, which I find really cool, you get the rawness of the band that way.. They probably didn’t actually record it in a garage though, it just sounds like it. Before we know it, the song has come to an end a bit too quickly. I feel that the song was screaming for a bigger arrangement to another world of possibilities for the band. 

The title track of the EP “Gap Year Tourists” rounds off the EP lovely. It’s a feel good song with lyrics full of wit and charm. The delivery of the song is simply just fun. This song would simply get any Dollymops fan on the dance floor straight away, just from the first bar. I can really hear The Smiths in this song and the post-punk vibe that’s radiating off this song is filled with nostalgia. A well crafted EP of some great songs. Their weak points aren’t even weak points, they are pure qualities of their work. I’d say the band need to get slightly tighter as there’s always room for improvement with any artist. The charisma of the band have really opened my eyes and they’ve definitely got a new fan over here. 

Favourite Tracks: Plastic Proletariat, Addicts, Gap Year Tourists
Score: 7/10

https://www.facebook.com/TheDollymopsOfficial/

https://www.instagram.com/thedollymopsband/

Vertical Noise – It’s Not What You Think (Review)

Vertical Noise are known as a power trio. A simple layout of vocals, guitar, bass and drums. Sometimes, music is best kept simple and this band certainly showcase the simplicity in their line up. Saying that, they take influences from bands such as Muse, Blood Red Shoes and I can really hear the rawness of The Sex Pistols Queens of the Stone Age in their music too. 

“Club Music” begins the EP with a drum and bass beat that makes you believe that the song is going to be like, well, club music. This only lasts around 4 seconds before entering the actual song. It’s heavy and a big track. With different sections sealing the song together, it’s noisy and very punk. They rebel against the mainstream system with lyrics such as “I don’t like club music, I think it’s a waste of time.” It’s very opinionated, making it political in a way that people could disagree, making you like the song more because of how it’s so diverse.

The next track features comical behaviour with lyrics such as “you’re batshit crazy in your Howard Hughes dressing gown.” “Nice Stuff” has a very careless nature. The imperfect vocals make the song push that little bit more with what sounds like a teenager having a bad tantrum. With the vocals sounding similar to Johnny Rotten (The Sex Pistols), the 4 minute song doesn’t dynamically build as much as hoped. The continued momentum of the song gets a bit repetitive until the song cuts out to a dark, melodic bass line before the other instruments return. I personally really like the cleverness of the lyrics and how sometimes they don’t fit in time with the music, and it  makes it uneasy to listen to but nevertheless, you still carry on listening to find out more.

With what sounds like Tom Morello having a guitar battle with Matt Bellamy, you’re automatically glued to hear how “Carbon Copy” turns out. I think the band have tried to sound similar to Rage Against the Machine and Beastie Boys in this track, which is always a plus. The lyrics are clever again, and sound like they’re sung by River Cuomo (Weezer). You could say that this band are taking so many influences and just mixing it together to get their sound. Never in my life would I have thought to have mixed vocals like River’s with in your face guitar madness like Tom Morello, but these things happen I guess and Vertical Noise have created this pure cool, original sound.

“Twatellite Navigation” (a rude version of Satellite?) is a bit forced in my eyes to begin with and the more than 5 second pause in the song is a bit too much and makes the song feel like it’s a completely different track. Maybe that’s what the band were wanting, which is cool, but as a personal preference, it feels a bit forced and wanting it to work well. The beginning is slow and features similar tones to Foo Fighters guitar tones in their track “World” (which is a very underrated track of their’s btw.) Anyway, towards the end of Twatellite Navigation, there’s another pause which I feel just doesn’t need to be there as long as it is. The song subject is never really identified fully, and the only thing identified is to “Do what you want, do what pleases you” which leads back to the careless, attitude of a punk teenager that the band keep portraying.  

“Countless Video Interruptions” is the longest track on the EP and probably features the biggest sound on the whole EP too. The first two verses are the exact same lyrics but sung differently which makes it sound like he’s actually singing something completely different. Clever tactic right there. I really like how they simply interrupt the “Countless video interrupt..” with big guitars and adrenaline. It was slightly expected to happen but that just makes it more eager to listen to see if it DOES happen and it did. As much as the track is strong, it feels similar to all the others and doesn’t really show much versatility for the band. 

The title track of the EP; “It’s Not What You Think” is a lot more of a softer approach for the band. The subtle harmonies are really quite prominent and lovely to hear. As the song builds, the band still situate in the lovely, stereo delay aura of the song. It really is a nice track to end such a loud EP. It is definitely needed after the great noise before. The love song wraps up the EP in a way that it reassures you that the band are simply “Not what you think.” 

Favourite Tracks: Club Music, Carbon Copy, It’s Not What You Think
Score: 6.5/10

https://officialverticalnoise.bandcamp.com/album/its-not-what-you-think-ep
https://www.facebook.com/verticalnoise/

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/

 

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/