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singles/eps - march 2016


Eliza Shaddad - 'Run'

'Run from me far and fast as you can, before I ruin you' sings Eliza, over some moody sounding post-rock influenced backing, of the kind that's more suited to a leisurely stroll than a 100 metre dash, but Eliza Shaddad is having none of our whimpering excuses for lethargy, and as 'Run' builds to a searing crescendo of an ending, it begins to seem as if the 'run away from me' sentiment is a bit overdone, and that what Eliza really wants is for us all to just jog along with her, to a mid paced ballad that's really more of an album track than a single.


Paul Maged – ‘The Wild’

New York City-living, modern rock singer-songwriter Paul Maged unleashed his debut album, Diamonds & Demons, in 2014 and now he’s back with the lead single ‘The Wild’ from is upcoming sophomore album. Like his first record, ‘The Wild’ was produced by multi-platinum producer Sean Gill and Maged (vocals, keyboards) is backed by his talented band of Ari Friedman (lead guitar, bass) and Marc Hoffman (drums).

‘The Wild’ is heavy through and through and Maged exclaims with heartfelt and sincere frustration. A stalking bass line and a strict, pronounced drum beat start the song off as Maged intones ominously “Darkness lives inside us all / …No controlling when it calls…” on the intro verse. The chorus breaks open with a jagged churn of guitar distortion, cymbal crash, and Maged modulating his vocals, at first roughly shouting and then segueing into a delicate, higher register. At times he sounds like a less nasal Ozzy and at others like a mild Geoff Tate as he emotes through the key line “You can’t kill the wild!”

Jen Dan

The Gaa Gaas - 'Close Your Eyes'

Authentic old-school artpunks make the sort of anti media statement that you just don't hear very often, from anyone. 'Don't watch the news, it's all fabricated spew' is the kind of lyrical venom that few if any bands seem capable of nowadays, but the Jersey/Brighton Gaa Gaas seem to possess buckets of it. The tune cranks away like an object lesson in garagepunk by numbers, feedback, crashing cymbals and keyboard growling in the background. Stirring stuff.


FLAUNT – ‘Sideshow’

Electro-indie rock act FLAUNT is in the midst of accomplishing an impressive feat; releasing its 18-track album opus Rave Noir on March 18th and delivering a video to accompany each song. So far around 7 songs/videos have dropped ahead of the album release date and the musical styles run the gamut from indie rock to blues rock and a whole lot of down-tempo electro-pop. The range of genres Justin Jennings and Joseph Vitterito of FLAUNT cover is in itself ambitious, but they also acquit themselves with aplomb, sounding like a different band on each track.

One of the singles, ‘Sideshow’ focuses on the duo’s more contemplative side. It’s a pensively chill ballad/lament that contrasts slower-moving sonics like light, reflective electro notes, softly picked guitar lines, and shimmering synths with the fast-shuffle of ever-shifting percussion and quickly delivered vocals. The male vocals are smooth and mildly downcast with the singer stating bittersweetly “Everything is perfect / except when we come to an end / No return ticket…” The video perfectly captures the melancholic subject of the song, showing two faceless mannequins who nonetheless connect, but are then torn apart by the end of the song.

Jen Dan

Nada Surf - 'Cold To See Clear'

A band I never seem to hear anything about, or enough of, Nada Surf's deceptively smooth old-school indie pop always contains a hidden abrasiveness beneath its sunshiny harmonies and 'Cold To See Clear' contains enough sun drenched hooklines to furnish an entire Beach Boys album, and it's exactly the sort of track that could catch you unawares, as happens to the office staff in the video, whose power point presentation turns into some sort of ritualistic redefinition of workplace spatiality, and karaoke.


Witching Waves – ‘Flowers’

London-located noise-pop/punk trio Witching Waves has released 3 tapes and, in 2014, the album Fear Of Falling Down. The threesome’s highly-tipped follow-up record, Crystal Café, was just delivered February 26th on Soft Power (U.K.)/Happy Happy Birthday To Me (U.S.). Emma, Ed, and Mark have been playing gigs, getting interviews and reviewed by the likes of Overblown, Stereo Embers Magazine, and Norman Records. The album has been streaming in full at DIY and ‘Flowers’ premiered at Stereogum.

‘Flowers’ is a stark post-punk track that runs on angular guitar lines, dynamic bass line, and a sharply smacked drum beat. Emotionally flat male vocals intone “Wanna sleep in the flowers” while Emma’s voice floats in occasionally to add the line “I don’t miss it much now.” The result is matter-of-factly bleak; not dramatic, nor too monotone thanks to Emma’s lighter vocal take and the restless sonic energy emitted by the bass line and drums.

Jen Dan

Lava Bangs - 'Quit Continue'

I almost didn't review this as, quite honestly, Lava Bangs have had more than enough encouragement already, to a point where they really think they can release a two minute long two chord two word lyric nosebleed of a track as a single and expect radio stations to play it and music critics such as myself to actually write anything coherent about it. There's a complete album of this nonsense knocking around somewhere.


Hunter Sharpe – ‘Elephant Walk’

Bluesy alt-rock gets an injection of new blood from the only-19 years old Hunter Sharpe and his talented backing band comprised of Marlon Sexton (the son of Charlie Sexton), Colton Kincaid, and Hunter Pierce. Sharpe comes from Austin, Texas and he and the band will be playing a run of gigs imminently at SXSW. Sharpe started playing guitar at a young age and he’s now making waves with the nimbly lumbering single ‘Elephant Walk’.

Hunter and his cohorts push with confidence on the stop-and-go paced ‘Elephant Walk’. Quick jags of guitar, a rumbling bass line, hard-hit drums, and cymbals crash flash by throughout the tune. Hunter exclaims sharply amid the stark rock sonics, plaintively intoning that “…those who follow will always remember…” those that lead the pack. Based on this single and previous shows, Hunter Sharpe and band are a hit on the live circuit as their attitude and sound prove to be vivid and dynamic.

Jen Dan

The Late Great - 'A Young Lover's Dream'

This is really just too well put together for me to lazily dismiss The Late Great as 'the Norwegian BJMs'. Doubtlessly other reviewers have made similar comments and while statements such as those make reviewing songs like 'A Young Lover's Dream' a bit less difficult, The Late Great have written and recorded a song that very authentically recreates the folk rock world of the mid 1960s, just right before the flowers and patchouli took over. It's 1965 all over again with the Late Great.


Angel Falls – ‘Carry On’

Coming from the cold climes of Saint Paul, Minnesota and the warmth of central California, Dan Ballek (ex-Mr. K’s Dream) and Paul Lopez (Spell 336, The Shoegaze Collective, and Sana Obruent) meld the glacial and bright aspects of the dream-pop and shoegaze genres on their first full-length album titled …when. They’ve released several EPs and singles since early 2015 and their latest offering collects many of the tracks that have been previously available. Ballek and Lopez have re-recorded, re-mixed, and re-mastered all of the 16 songs on …when (Perhaps a nod to My Bloody Valentine’s ‘To Here Knows When’?) and the album can be purchased at the duo’s BandCamp site.

Select audio clips can be sampled there, including a teaser for ‘Carry On’. It’s a standout number like recalls illustrious bands like Cocteau Twins and Lovespiralsdownwards for the shining, pining synth line that winds its way through the song. The placid tick of cymbals and soft drum strikes keep the time, matched by briskly strummed guitar chime, while the singer slowly pulls out his vocals in an anxious tone. It’s a compelling blend that leaves the listener wanting to hear more…

Jen Dan

We Are Bandicoot - 'Limitations'

Really, really uncertain as to what all this is about. Funk influenced breakbeat with an aspirational sort of theme running through it - 'you've got to know your limitations / to reach your liberations' and it all seems a bit unobjectionable until right at the end We Are Bandicoot decide that they aren't the new Level 42 and crank the song up into an unrecognisable metal catastrophe. Is it for real? Is it fake? What other mysteries do the Kent band have tucked up their sleeves? They're certainly putting something into it, if with slightly erratic results.


Boy from the crowd – ‘The Road’

East London-located alt-rock/punk/blues duo Boy from the crowd has released a raw and invigorating debut EP titled Where the bees come to die this past December on Public Pressure Recordings. Vinny Piana and Vegas Ivy blend bruising garage-blues-rock with punk rock spirit on all 5 cuts from their new EP. The sound is wild and at times breathtakingly assailing in its barrage of howled out vocals and blazing guitar lines from Piana and dynamic drumwork from Ivy.

The most compact and tuneful song on the EP is ‘The Road’, a sing-along number that has the guys in a more easy-going mood, sounding like The Clash a bit, but with more grit and bite and blues to the guitar lines. It starts off on a mid-tempo note with guitar noodling, a steady drum beat, and Piana sing-talking in a clear tone about following a specific path in life. Then the rousing chorus swings in with supple, searing guitar licks and Piana segueing from a calmer tone to kicking out his vocals vividly as he exclaims “I often get unsure halfway down the road I choose / …and I wonder if I should…” Like all of us, he’s questioning the decisions he’s made and if he should continue to go down that chosen road – or perhaps change direction. Piana and Ivy should definitely stay on the path they’re on as Where the bees come to die is quite a compelling EP.

Jen Dan


FADES – ‘Breaking Through The Walls’

London-based alt-rock 5-piece FADES is set to drop its dynamic and melodic self-titled debut EP on March 11th and true to the band members’ DIY attitude, they’ve released an engaging video for their first single ‘Breaking Through The Walls’ that shows them gathering together and kicking out the jams in the close quarters of their on-the-move van.

The energetic ‘Breaking Through The Walls’ is a non-stop anthemic number from Joshua Woo (vocals, guitar), Alessandro Melchior (guitar, keyboards), Lucas Mendes (lead guitar), James Dibble (bass), and Keir Adamson (drums). Burning psych guitar lines swirl and squelch at the start, anchored by an emphatic drum beat. Woo sings in an assured, direct tone as he moves from the verse to chorus, exclaiming “I’m on my way / I’m breaking through the walls.” He lifts his vocals up in a hopeful plea at the ends of his phrases, adding a lighter touch to the rougher, alt-rock sonics.

Jen Dan


Some Kind of Illness – ‘Minds Eye’

The Farnworth-in-origin and Manchester-based experimental, ambient/acoustic duo Some Kind of Illness consists of brothers Paul Hinks and Mark Hinks and they have been creating their music since 1999 under different band iterations. They recently had the mad(ly ambitious and interesting) idea of releasing one record per month this year and have already dropped the Izolare EP in January and the Realize EP this month. Many of the songs off the two EPs drift along with long, spoken word samples, but one track, ‘Minds Eye’, (nevermind the absence of an apostrophe) stands out from the pack due to its more straightforward nature.

The ambient alt-folk number ‘Minds Eye’, off the Realize EP, is filled with light acoustic guitar strum and picked acoustic guitar notes that form a pleasant pattern while a subdued synth line hovers in the background. Paul (or is it Mark?) sing-talks in a mid-range tone, and with a short-phrase delivery, the highly perceptive lyrics about aging and how “You’re getting older” but that “…not even nature knows / how the story ends.” The quiet guitars and vocals contrast effectively with the song’s disquieting lyrics.

Jen Dan