Category Archives: EP Reviews

DANIEL PICKARD – ‘The Promise Of A Face’

(Self-released)

Daniel Pickard EP Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

After the journey of art-pop collective Half Loon reached its conclusion a few years back, their frontman Daniel Pickard decided to embark on a solo career that would combine a diverse range of musical influences, as well as a genuine love of good songwriting and hook-laden melodies, and this has resulted in ‘The Promise Of A Face‘, the talented singer-songwriter’s debut EP.

Over its running time of just over 11 minutes, the listener is treated to a collection of atmospheric compositions that are well-crafted and tightly-held, but also easily accessible, effectively accompanied by witty, at times humorous lyrical content that is also relatable, and deals candidly with themes of adolescence, family matters, and being in love, which are all conveyed by Daniel‘s soft vocal tones.

The EP is not too heavy, nor is it too light, it reaches a middle ground that enables the listener to embark on a journey that, although brief, will make them laugh, think deeply, and unwind along the way.

The Promise Of A Face‘ is a solid debut solo offering from Daniel, and it is also something that bodes well for his future work.

(4/5)

TOP TRACK: ‘The Promise Of A Face

CHECK OUT OUR INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL PICKARD HERE, AND OUR REVIEW OF HIS LATEST TRACK, ‘TEASE’, HERE.

 

LOUZADA – ‘The Z Files’

(Self-released)
Louzada EP Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

When I interviewed London collective Louzada recently, they told me that ‘The Z Files‘ – their debut EP – would “mark a paradigm shift in the music world“, and would “prove that rock is still very much alive“, which were rather bold statements to make from a band who up until this point had only brought out a couple of singles, but each of the five tracks that comprise this first offering provide justification – in their own way – for the outfit’s pre-release confidence.

A powerful statement of intent is made with opener ‘All Over The World‘, which sees the collective take from one of their key musical influences – in this case, AC/DC – and put a unique spin on it, resulting in a truly engaging mix of semi-melodic vocals, mesmerising guitar riffery, chunky bass lines, and pounding drum beats.

Dreaming Of You‘ continues in this retro vein, albeit with lighter, more positive tones, with poppier choruses and layered vocal deliveries accompanying lyrical content that perfectly captures what it is like to be young and in love.

Third number ‘Drown‘ is pretty much the antithesis of this, a proper anthem in the style of the Foo Fighters, containing aggressive vibes, an overall faster pace, and lyrics which frankly cover life in an abusive relationship, along with the resulting deterioration in mental health that often brings.

What’s Coming Now‘ sees the band continue down the intense, anthemic route, and the track is a bit of a headbanger, what with its high energy, frequent chanting, and vocals that are almost being screamed out.

Closer ‘Demons‘ is a song of two halves, with the first part dealing with an individual’s battle with their personal demons, conveyed through emotive vocals, and accompanied by a slow tempo. However, the second half sees the collective turn this on its head, with everything quickly gathering pace, and building in intensity, until the track reaches an earth-shattering climax done at almost breakneck speed, which effectively represents the individual’s determination to rid themselves of the demons present within them.

Overall, ‘The Z Files‘, with its well-crafted songs and relatable, thought-provoking lyrics, has to be one of the strongest debut EPs I have heard in a long time, and it makes me wonder just how much better Louzada could get in the future.

(4/5)

TOP TRACK:Drown

 

 

 

 

VICTORY LANE – ‘Barebones’

(Standby Records)

Victory Lane EP Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Last year, four-piece Victory Lane impressed critics and fans alike with their debut EP, ‘Louder Than Words‘, which was an effective showcase for the band’s fresh take on the pop-punk genre.

With that already under their belts, the rapidly-rising collective have now unveiled ‘Barebones’, its eagerly-anticipated follow-up.

Comprising of six tracks, the quartet recorded the new offering under the guidance of esteemed producer Romesh Dodangoda, who has worked in the past with the likes of Bring Me The Horizon and Don Broco.

Just Personal‘ opens proceedings by consistently being catchy, highly-energetic, and upbeat. At times, the sound can be rather generic, but it is a real toe-tapper, and certainly does its job of hooking the listener in.

Following track ‘Life Past 98‘ pretty much follows in the same sonic vein, at least to begin with.

However, the vocal delivery of frontman Dan Lamb is evidently more heartfelt, and he does a fantastic job of conveying the deeply personal and emotional lyrical subject matter of his father passing away when Dan was just a teenager, and what he felt over what undoubtedly was a very traumatic period.

As the song progresses, the tempo lowers significantly, with the guitar riffs becoming heavier yet slower-paced, and the drum beats becoming louder yet gentler at the same time.

Another highlight of the EP is provided by fourth number ‘Happy Sad‘, which with a sound that switches effortlessly between jolly and something altogether more sombre, as well as lyrics which deal frankly with Dan being in a state of emotional limbo, brought on by a reliance on anti-depressants, is a true reflection of how the four-piece are maturing, both musically and as human beings.

Overall, ‘Barebones‘ initially comes across as an average pop-punk release, but as things move forward, the band are able to draw the listener in with a well-crafted combination of songs that will leave them feeling a whole range of emotions.

TOP TRACK: ‘Life Past 98’

(3.5/5)

 

REAWAKEN – ‘monochrome’

Reawaken EP Cover

REVIEW by THOMAS NEIL

Reawaken are a Southampton-based, five-piece alternative rock band made up of Meg Parkinson on lead vocals, Matt Gregory on guitar, Nathan Page on guitar/backing Vocals, Joe Fraser on bass, and Gill Lancashire on Drums.

They take influence from the likes of Halestorm, Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry,  and Stone Broken, and today, I’ll be reviewing their debut EP, ‘monochrome’.

‘Don’t Run’ opens with blaring guitars and some hefty drums, supported by some amazing vocals from Meg Parkinson, honestly, less than a minute in and I’m rapt. This song is engaging and powerful, and as the first song I’ve heard from them, it does the job of converting me into a fan.

I mentioned it before, but seriously, the vocals in this track are something else, and all propped up by some top-notch playing from everyone in the band, it’s truly a streamlined track that shows off the best of Reawaken.

‘Black Tears’ has a much softer intro, and after the explosive opener, it’s a nice change, but while slower and softer, this track is just as powerful, resonate and emotional. This gives Parkinson a chance to show off another side of her voice, and she really knocks it out of the park with this track, and I really can’t wait to hear more from this band.

‘C.R.A.W.L’ changes the game again, with bouncing, shredding guitars that are just a treat to listen to, light percussion layered on top, with both of them giving way to Parkinson’s vocals, and then the band build on top of them again.

This track really demonstrates the co-operation between the various elements of the band, and their skills, because each element is impressive on its own, but when they come together, they produce something better.

‘I’m Gone’ is the final track on the EP, and it slows things down again, the soft melody of Parkinson’s voice really gets you in this track, especially when backed up perfectly by a soft, acoustic guitar.

As well as being a fiercely emotive track, this one also has a really nice beat to it, it claws its way into you head and doesn’t give up its spot easily, it is truly a spectacular end of what is a very strong EP.

TOP TRACK: ‘Black Tears’

(4/5)

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT REAWAKEN BY CHECKING OUT OUR INTERVIEW WITH THEM HERE.

 

 

ME & MUNICH – ‘Knives Of The Sun’

(ScreamLite)

Me & Munich EP Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Earlier this year, experienced musicians Jan Petersen and Marco BØgehØj decided to further develop the melodic noise rock sound that has already given them much success in their native Denmark, and ‘Knives Of The Sun’, the duo’s debut release as Me & Munich, is the result.

While the sound remains relatively melodic, energetic, and uncomplicated, it is clear throughout the five tracks that a few tweaks have been made, for example, the two-piece have taken a fresher approach towards their songwriting, and are better able to combine elements of post-rock, noise rock, and ambient rock to create tunes that are more cohesive, atmospheric, and better guaranteed to get the toes tapping.

These are ably aided by a vocal delivery that is a clearer representation of the lyrical content, dealing with the complexities of the human psyche, and can also compliment the musical compositions with further ease.

All in all, ‘Knives Of The Sun’ is not the perfect EP, however, it provides a more effective showcase of how Jan and Marco have matured as musicians and songwriters since their last release, and it will be interesting to see where they go next.

TOP TRACK: ‘Knives Of The Sun’

(3/5)

Me & Munich band photo

FURTHER INFO ON THE EP, AND ME & MUNICH, CAN BE FOUND HERE.

 

 

CONCRETE KINGDOMS – ‘Concrete Kingdoms’

(Self-release)

Concrete Kingdoms EP Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Having had to take a break last year, Scottish hard rock quintet Concrete Kingdoms are now back, bigger, better, and stronger than before with their self-titled debut EP.

The new release comprises of four tracks, all of which provide firm evidence that the band, this time, have opted for a sound that is altogether more powerful and better developed.

For example, there is more of an even balance between the immersing guitar riffs and a melodic vocal delivery that can really reach the higher notes.

This combination moves along at a nice pace, enabling the lyrical content, which is grounded in issues that everybody has had or will have to face at some point in their lives, to be clearly heard, and not be dwarfed by the music, which a few outfits similar to these guys tend to do at times.

Overall, ‘Concrete Kingdoms’ is a solid offering that should appeal, with its good old-fashioned, proper hard rock, to a diverse range of the genre’s devotees, and also should enable the five-piece to keep going the momentum that they have been spending the past few years building up.

(3.5/5)

TOP TRACK: ‘Time To Play’

 

 

 

KINGS AND CASTLES – ‘Numbers’

(Tonotopic Records)

Kings and Castles EP Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

From the first listen, each of the five tracks that make up ‘Numbers’, the debut EP from emerging Southampton four-piece Kings and Castles, embed themselves into your mind, with a catchy, upbeat, but also hard-hitting sound, taking in elements of indie, pop, and rock.

The band’s frontman, Ross Rolph, opens up about his life and surroundings, but in a way that is uncomplicated and simplistic, with thought-provoking lyrics that you also just can’t help but sing along to.

A particular highlight of this release is second track, and the quartet’s first single overall, ‘Love Is The Word’, which is fast-paced and melodic, with underlying deep basslines and really captures the feeling of what it’s like to be young and in love.

Listening to the track, I can understand why it was such an instant hit.

Another highlight of the EP is the closer, ‘Keep On Running From You’, which sees the guys going for a real 90’s-esque vibe, rather akin to Radiohead, but with more vibrancy.

‘Numbers’ is a solid debut for Kings and Castles, should be of wide appeal, and if you’re looking for something that makes you think, but also gets your toes tapping, then this comes highly recommended.

TOP TRACK: ‘Love Is The Word’

(3/5)

CHECK OUT OUR RECENT INTERVIEW WITH KINGS AND CASTLES HERE.