|EXTENDED PLAY: Bite Size Chunks Of Musical Mayhem|
|Written by Mark Ashby|
|Sunday, 26 March 2017 04:30|
As regular readers will know, we love EPs here at Über Rock: those shiny little discs that sit somewhere between a single and a full-length album, but are all-too-often criminally ignored by the so-called mainstream media, quite simply because, more often than not, they are self-released offerings. However, as champions of unsigned and underground bands, UR jumps all over them… which leads us neatly into the first of this month’s batch:
2Far2Jump – ‘First Attempts At Everything’
What better way to kick off this month’s round up, and the summer season (well, the clocks did go forward this morning), than with dose of nice sunshine-y pop punk? This trio from Guildford have already dropped three singles, so know their way around a studio, with lead track ‘Set Your Goals’ is poised to be the next in that format. And the three lads – vocalist Alistair Hynes, guitarist Rupert Barker and drummer Aaron Mann (Matt Munday fulfilled bass duties for the recording sessions) – set their goal clearly – and that is to produce nicely crafted power pop anthems which are catchy and well produced.
Surprisingly, there is a severe lack of bounce, as the songs all have an introspective and thoughtful feel to them, and the pace is remarkably slow for a band in the pop punk mien, but Hynes’ eloquent voice draws out the pathos of his thoughtful lyrics, reminding more of a reflective Chester Bennington (check the haunting ‘A Place To Run’) or Frank Carter than Billy Joe Armstrong or Mark Hoppus. This is an EP which might defy the initial expectations of pop punk purists, but it delivers on both musical and intellectual levels, and could well provide the soundtrack to many a lazy summer Sunday afternoon in all corners of the Überverse.
‘First Attempts At Everything’ is released on 5 May.
All Ears Avow – ‘Edge Of This’
As you can see by glancing to your left, this, the third extended player from Swindon’s AEA features a beautiful cinemagraphic photo of a girl standing on the edge of a mountain shelf against a broiling sky. And that is exactly the feel that this six-tracker also produces, as you feel that the quartet are about to hurl themselves into the unknown territory that is breaking through into the big time any time now.
This is beautifully crafted progressive power pop which lies somewhere between the aggression of Making Monsters and the sickly sweetness of Paramore, with wonderfully swirling guitar harmonics emerging from surprisingly dark atmospherics. Sean Ivens’ snapping percussion drives everything with the precision of a Ferrari engineer, while Joe Bishop’s bass growls gently under Jake Willcock’s slow building harmonies. Claire Sutton has a beautiful voice, although I do get the feeling that she’s holding back somewhat, and the use of atmospheric layering adds to the effectiveness of the combination of taut delivery and fluid extrapolation which permeates each of the songs. A very pleasant listen.
‘Edge Of This’ is released on 28 April.
Carnival Club – ‘Magdalena’s Cape’
I remember, years ago, when I was around the same age, reading a poem which had a verse in it that was something like “You don’t have to listen to me/Because I am young/But I am young/So you should listen to me”. Well, the four boys who make up Carnival Club are ridiculously young (well, at least from the perspective of someone who has been writing music since long before their parents were old enough to have evil thoughts), but you should listen to them. Why? Because they have a surprisingly mature sound that both belies their youthful years and demonstrates an extensive musical education.
‘Magdalena’s Cape’ is a dark and dense slice of alt-rock, which draws together elements of late ‘60s/early ‘70s psychedelic blues with ‘80s-style dream pop, topped off with a generous helping of ‘90s/’00s progressiveness, taking us on a trip that starts somewhere outside Greenwich Village and dumps us fairly and squarely in Matt Bellamy’s back garden (I’ll strategically ignore the U2 reference at the beginning of the appropriately named ‘Mistakes’). There’s plenty of kick ass rockin’ moments in there as well, especially on the growling guitars, which bounce around the room with a vibrant urgency, and the massive deep-throated bass thrums. I love releases which don’t fit into any glove box, apart from that marked “listen and enjoy”: Carnival Club have produced one which satiates that desire.
‘Magdalena’s Cape’ is released on 12 May via Demolition Diner Records.
New Device – ‘Coming Home’
This collection of five acoustic songs (well, seven, ‘cos they graciously sent us the two bonus tracks which will be included on the CD version) arrived in UR’s inbox literally as we were about to do the final formatting for this review: the initial plan was to play it as background music as we did same, but it quickly demanded its inclusion.
As I said, this is a collection of acoustic tracks, and is the third part of an ongoing four-release project currently being undertaken by the band: the first was the ‘Takin’ Over London’ live album, which marked the fifth anniversary of their debut album and was followed by followed by last year’s pretty damn impressive ‘Devils On The Run’ EP. This second extended player sees them stripping everything back to the basics, while at the same time letting the songs stretch and breathe. It also helps to showcase Daniel Leigh’s ability not only as a great singer with an extremely impressive depth to his vocal but also as an extremely clever lyricist and overall songwriter: there are so many little subtleties and nuances which are drawn out in this format that you’ll find yourself returning time and again to explore them in even more depth.
‘Coming Home’ is released on 21 April.
Speedbilly – ‘Hold Our Beers And Watch This’
Whatever the fuck happened to Saturday night television? I mean, it used to be fucking awesome. ‘The Dukes Of Hazard’. ‘Wonder Woman’. ‘Starsky And Hutch’. ‘The A Team’. ‘The Billion Dollar Man’. Appetisers for ‘Convoy’ or ‘Smokey And The Bandit’ as the feature movie. Those were the days. Piles of shite, each and every single one of them. But the sort of shite you enjoyed rolling in and coming up smiling afterwards. It’s the sort of shite that the three guys from Minneapolis who make up Speedbilly grew up on, and the mainstream counter-culture that they reflect on this, their hysterically awesome debut EP.
Another thing you can’t help but love about Messrs Jimmy Allen Moore (fuck, that definitely is a good ol’ boy name right there), Jody Kimmell and John Stegner: their previous pedigrees include bands who revelled in names such as The Scrods, The Panty Huffers, Vasoline Alley, Jehovah’s Shitlist. Yep, these boys don’t take things too seriously – apart, that is, from the riffs they lay down. While the emphasis is very much on having fun (such as on the totally anarchic ‘The General Lee’), these boys can also deliver some serious rawk ‘n’ roll guaranteed to get even the most staid of parties started. Luv it!
‘Hold Our Beers And Watch This’ is out now.
The Devil In Faust – ‘Come Apart’
As their name suggests, TDIF – who are no strangers to the pages of Über Rock, thanks to their previous two singles – veer more towards the goth end of the musical spectrum: but, that blank characterization is to do them a severe injustice, as it is a generalization which summarizes their outlook rather than their output. Because one thing that grabs you immediately upon first listen to this, their first EP, is the inability to easily categorize it. And, as I’ve said before (including above) that is a great boast for any band…
With the band now having a stable line-up following the recruitment of bassist Jess Lomas, ‘Come Apart’ is an EP which moves easily from the dark ‘80s fury of Sisters Of Mercy at their most intense through the fucked up scuzz vibe of the likes of Killing Joke – and that’s only on opener ‘Cross Your Heart’ – to the power pop sensibilities which brought the genre into the mainstream. With vocalist Al Pritchard coming across like an intoxicating cross between David Gedge, Peter Murphy and James Dean Bradfield, coupled with his acerbic guitar riffs and the catchy-as-fuck rhythms and choruses, this is pure radio-friendly mayhem that deserves reciprocation.
‘Come Apart’ is released on 28 April.
Toseland – ‘Fingers Burned’
Okay, okay, I know. James Toseland is a big name. He’s a millionaire former motorcycle champion, has a couple of albums out, has played some of the biggest festivals out there… he’s not exactly unsigned or underground… Yeah, I know all that: but, he’s got a new extended player coming out and that fits the fucking criteria, OK? And the bastid played my 50th birthday party last year, so I have a soft spot for him…
The title track is a direct lift from the stunning ‘Cradle The Rage’ album, and undoubtedly is one of the highlights of same: it’s huge on every level, from the orchestral backdrop to the tornado-inducing guitar duel between Zurab Melua and Ed Bramford through to Toseland’s massive vocal, which curls around the harmony in much the same way he used to do around hairpin bends. It’s a truly magnificent song. ‘Bullet’ is a brand new track, which pumps and bumps with the vigour he injects into everything he does: the riff growls and prowls out of the speakers, and the pure venom of the delivery injects itself it straight into your heart. Next up is a cover of the The Teardrop Explodes’ hit ‘Reward’, which is virtually unrecognizable until Toseland rips the title part of the chorus a new one: if you’re gonna do a cover, take it apart and rebuild it – and that’s just what the champ does. The EP rounds off with an acoustic version of last year’s ‘We’ll Stop At Nothing’, which is effective in stripping the song back to its basic simplicity but really is a bit of a throwaway closer.
‘Fingers Burned’ is released on Friday (31 March) via Metalville. Toseland kick off their latest tour on Tuesday 4 April at Sticky Mikes in Brighton.
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