Category Archives: EP Reviews


(Tonotopic Records)

Kings and Castles EP Cover


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’








Lost Like Alice EP Cover


Young Welsh singer-songwriter Ben Parker, under the alias of Lost Like Alice, burst onto the scene last summer with his excellent debut EP, ‘Thread’.

Since then, he has been proving himself to be one of the most talented emerging artists around.

It is little wonder, then, that ’20’ has been so eagerly anticipated.

Comprising of six tracks that, when combined, run to a total of 21 minutes, this follow-up offering sees Ben take you on an intimate, deeply personal, and emotive journey.

The opener, ‘What’s Missing?’, is a blues-led track, delivered at a fast pace, with an underlying hook, angst-ridden vocals, and lyrics dealing with realisation, taking you back to a moment in your life when you had realised that you had gone off track and had to do better.

‘The Getaway’ is probably one of the two most emotive songs of the EP, the other being finale ‘One Last Time’, with gentle acoustic guitar strumming, soft vocal tones, and stripped back melodies, suiting well its theme of trying to get through to somebody that you care about, who is drifting away from your life.

The tender, tranquil sound continues with ‘Crooked Lines’, however, the chorus is easier to sing along to, and the lyrics deal with growing up, becoming more mature, and accepting your past mistakes.

Next up is the title track, ’20 (When We Wake)’, which Ben himself considers to be the most important of this record.

After listening to it, I found that I agreed with his viewpoint, as it really captures the essence, both musically and lyrically, of the EP, what with him singing about just turning 20, realising that he doesn’t feel it, and deciding to revisit pivotal moments in his life up to that point.

Again, Ben ventures down the path of stripped back melodies, but in comparison to ‘The Getaway’, this song is an altogether more optimistic piece.

Penultimate track, ‘Headlights’, the first single of this to be unveiled, late last year, sees Ben’s emotions at his most conflicted, he’s happy to be living a quiet, simple life, but at the same time, he sings about wanting more freedom, and having someone to share it with.

It is still a predominantly acoustic composition, however, there is subtle instrumentation, which makes the song stand out.

With a significantly longer running time of almost five-and-a-half minutes, ‘One Last Time’ really gives Ben a chance to shine, with atmospheric acoustics and harmonies enabling him to pour his heart out.

’20’ is a much more heartfelt and thought-provoking affair than ‘Thread’, and effectively shows just how much Ben has matured, both as a singer and songwriter, in what has been a relatively short space of time, which should definitely result in even more plaudits coming Lost Like Alice’s way.

TOP TRACK: ’20 (When We Wake)’




CARRIER – ‘Wither’


Carrier EP Cover


‘Wither’, the debut EP from Devon hardcore/metalcore quartet Carrier, is an offering packed full of honest emotion.

The band drag you in kicking and screaming with opener, ‘Flowers & Thorns’, which contains a fast-paced, intense mix of uncompromising riffs, brutal breakdowns, and battering drum beats, and a hoarse vocal delivery, but with some subtle, gentle piano playing, acting as effective juxtaposition.

Third number, ‘Grieve’, sees the quartet at their most frank and emotive, as you hear them express, straight from the heart, what they felt individually when a close friend of theirs passed away, through prolonged screaming and an aggressive stop-start riff, you can really feel the anger and pain that the outfit are conveying.

When I chatted with the Plymouth four-piece a few weeks back, they told me to “expect some surprises“, and there are obvious examples throughout this EP, most notably with fourth track, ‘August’, which sees the band opt for a more soothing, atmospheric sound, coupled with haunting melodies, with the raspy vocals the only presence from the other songs.

Closer ’10:15′ is probably the most anthemic of this offering, with an engaging, impassioned, but slightly slower riff, some indirect synth, and a chanting refrain of “Don’t let go!” that quickly lodges itself in your head.

Overall, ‘Wither’ is a remarkable debut, with much to offer, and it sees Carrier grab, with both hands, an opportunity to really show off their potential.

If the four-piece can keep the momentum going for the foreseeable future, and that’s something I feel confident about, then it will only be a matter of time before they have established themselves as a real force in British metalcore.

TOP TRACK: ‘Grieve’







AEVES – ‘Desire’


Aeves EP Cover


Following the release of their debut EP, ‘Ignite’, in the summer of 2016, Kentucky duo Aeves spent almost two years honing and evolving their unique blend of punk/electronic pop, which has resulted in ‘Desire’, the band’s sophomore EP.

Opener ‘Wild Hearts’, the first of three versions of this track, is energetic but easy-going, held together by the dulcet, engaging vocal tones of Molly O’Malley.

This is juxtaposed by the lyrics, which act as a thinly-veiled attack on US President Donald Trump and his controversial policies.

Second number, ‘Loaded Love’, is done along pretty much the same lines, however, the lyrical matter is more optimistic and light-hearted.

‘Haunted’, the EP’s sole stand-alone track, keeps the vibrant melodies present in the first two songs, but they are delivered in an altogether darker and more brooding manner.

The second version of ‘Wild Hearts’ sees it being given the dubstep treatment, with O’Malley’s vocals the only constant present from the original.

The faster pace works effectively well, preventing the number from just becoming a bog-standard rehash.

The last two tracks of this offering see the two-piece go down a more relaxed route, with stripped-back versions of ‘Loaded Love’ and ‘Wild Hearts’, consisting only of the vocals and a gentle tinkling of piano keys, which make O’Malley’s delivery stand out, showing that she has a voice that can transcend a host of genres.

Overall, even though there are really only three songs, each number on ‘Desire’ is its own unique piece, and is testament to the way Aeves go about carefully crafting their music.

It is clear, then, judging by what’s on offer here, that the band have a bright future ahead of them.

TOP TRACK: ‘Wild Hearts’





Escape Is Not Freedom Split Release Cover


‘Split’ doesn’t just mean the title of the new EP from Escape Is Not Freedom, it means a whole lot more.

A four-track offering, two from the Chicago trio, and two more from Israeli outfit dusK Village, both of the songs provided by those outfits are markedly different from one another.

Escape Is Not Freedom are first up, with a follow-up to last year’s debut album, ‘Goldsmith’.

The band’s, and the EP’s, opener, ‘Boiling Nails’, is a heavy and intense affair, delivered at breakneck speed, and containing fuzzy guitar riffs, rough basslines, and hammering drum beats, also taking in elements of rock, noise, sludge and grunge.

All of this is accompanied to great effect by the angst-ridden vocals of the collective’s frontman, Mike Gussis.

In stark contrast, their next track, ‘We’re Wrecked’, starts off as more mellow fare, starting off with a slow and gentle riff that remains melodic, but gets progressively heftier as it moves forward.

Whereas ‘Boiling Nails’ was driven by the rasping, anguished vocals, the sound takes the lead on this, especially with a lengthy instrumental that starts halfway through and lasts around two minutes.

Emily Jancetic, a vocalist who featured on ‘Goldsmith’ and makes a welcome appearance here, really gets a chance to shine with a performance abundant in harmony and strength.

Escape Is Not Freedom’s half of the EP, by transiting between two uniquely crafted songs, is an effective vehicle for their diverse creativity, and that is something dusK Village aim for with their half, albeit with slightly less success.

Their first track, ‘Exolife Civilization Leak’, is constantly edgy and atmospheric, taking you down a very dark path indeed with moody riffs and hoarse vocals deposited at a gradual pace.

This is definitely the stronger of the two, as ‘A Self Fan’, even though done with more energy and pretty much the same level of intensity, is dominated by a guitar riff performed at such a loud volume that it becomes very difficult to hear what the band are singing about.

It’s a real shame, because it’s clear that they’re a talented bunch of guys, but I can’t help but think that it would have made for a much better listen had the vocals been stronger.

That aside, ‘Split’ is an offering that sees, for the most part, both collectives really stepping up to the plate, and serves as a solid introduction to fans of Escape Is Not Freedom who have yet to hear the work of dusK Village, and vice-versa.





YOUYESYOU – ‘Well, At Least We Tried’




The debut EP from Stoke-on-Trent trio YOUYESYOU may be entitled ‘Well, At Least We Tried’, but after listening to this, it is clear that the band have gone for an altogether more serious approach.

Comprising of five well-crafted tracks full of deep, infectious riffery, pounding drum beats, and anthemic choruses, the Potteries outfit take you on a hectic, intense journey through elements of punk, alternative, hardcore and noise.

Leading the way is the energetic but tormented vocal delivery of frontman Chris Munday. Whilst predominantly consisting of shouts and screams ridden with angst, there are occasional forays into more melodic fare.

It shows how versatile Chris is as a vocalist, because quite a lot of similar-sounding bands use two people for what he does on here.

The lyrics are mainly politically motivated, one example being second track ‘Attack, Attack!’, which deals with the theme of those who share their opinions, no matter how controversial they may be, on social media, for the whole world to see.

‘Well, At Least We Tried’ is an offering delivered at breakneck speed, with each song tailor-made for the moshpit, something that will definitely go down well if the three-piece end up playing Bloodstock this year.

TOP TRACK: ’10 Minute Mate’














VALENSOLE – ‘Make Pace’


Valensole EP Cover


Having received an overwhelmingly positive response to last year’s debut release, ‘Where We Should Be’, emerging punk rockers Valensole could have faced a very daunting task trying to top what was a strong offering.

However, I suppose that was something that never crossed their minds if second EP ‘Make Pace’ is anything to go by.

The Southampton trio, led by multi-talented frontman Elliott Jones, who also produced and mixed the new record, have elected to keep at the core of their sound a highly energetic, anthemic mix of punk and grunge, with a few elements of pop-punk thrown in for good measure.

This time, though, the band’s approach to crafting the music, vocals, everything, is a better reflection of the great confidence and maturity that they possess, which is evident in the heavier guitar riffs, bolder bass lines, and more forceful drum beats.

There’s also further diversity in Elliott’s vocal delivery, with smoother, less disjointed transitions between angst-ridden shouts and screams, and fun, happy harmonies.

Overall, ‘Make Pace’ is a more effective piece of work from Valensole, with better songwriting and higher production values, and should put to bed any doubts from those who may think that the band improving on their debut was too big a job for them to accomplish.

TOP TRACK: ‘In Your Head’