EP Review: The Rebel Light- Goodbye Serenade

282358_396845767040947_1181980866_nThink you know Indie music? Think again. Hailing from L.A., Indie/Electronic threesome The Rebel Light recorded and mixed their debut single ‘Goodbye Serenade’ utterly independently, specifically in their bathroom and wooden shed, worlds away from the likes of apparent Indie-kings Arctic Monkeys.

Their self-titled and first EP was released on the 13th of November last year and can be downloaded for free via iTunes. The band is made up of brothers and their cousin and their influences include The Beatles, The Libertines and Mumford and Sons.

‘Goodbye Serenade’ is truly an example of natural musical talent singing through despite the penny-pinching recording and production process. It opens with a simplistic, beautiful melody, a soft beat and one of the most comforting vocal styles you will hear in a long time. With the addition of brash drumming and fierce guitar, the track is clear proof of what raw passion and ability can achieve. The Rebel Light are also a humbling, prime example of the power of the internet and how those who use it have the power to push truly talented bands and artists into the spotlight they deserve.

The band’s organic flair bursts through the song, although it’s unfortunately easy to lose the lyrics behind rowdy yet uplifting instrumentation. ‘Goodbye Serenade’ is ultimately reflective of what it’s like to lose someone from your life and for your days to become cyclic and somewhat meaningless along the way; “Silence in my sleep; it’s the death of what I’ve done, a coma for your love.” With generally hard-hitting lyrics like, “It’s not the notes that you play, it is the silence in between”, the boys’ music-driven lifestyle really shines through.

Despite some world-renowned inspirations, The Rebel Light have achieved a rarity within the industry; a distinctive, unique style. ‘Goodbye Serenade’ does precisely what a debut single intends, and leaves the listener eager to hear more from them!

You can download ‘Goodbye Serenade’ and the rest of The Rebel Light’s Self-Titled EP for free here. 

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EP Review: Melrose- Let Me Remind You

481769_336566956451548_1336910823_nClaiming to be the freshest and heaviest Pop Punk band to come from Kent, Melrose recorded ‘Let Me Remind You’; their debut EP at Emeline Studios with producer Ian Sadler in August last year. It has been available to download for free since the 13th of November and has already brought them local radio play.

Melrose stick to what they know with opening track ‘Five-Sided Fistigon’ and show great production and some promising musical abilities from start to finish. The track hurtles into full throttle as soon as it begins, and the band show off their signature heavy riffs, gang-style vocals and A Day to Remember-esque breakdowns. Melrose also involve synths in their work but also recognise the current popularity of heavier Pop Punk and are fully embracing it.

 ‘F.Y.I. (Its Do or Die)’ is lyrically-typical of Pop Punk music; ‘For you information, I’m a better man this time’, making use of general relationship woes that many listeners can relate to. It’s clear that Melrose want to hold onto their Pop Punk flair with both hands, but also refuse to restrict their audience by making their lyrics too personal at the early stage of their career in the industry. The blend of vocals and scream vocals that the band can create is something you cannot teach, and luckily something they do very well.

The quartet’s sound can come as emotionally harsh because of its thrashing breakdowns and blaring vocal style, but the use of syth brings a light aspect into the mix, helping Melrose become more distinctive as a band. They have clearly opted to come across as unique without tarnishing their main genre too drastically. ‘Summer Weather’ and ‘Killing Me Won’t Bring Back Ya’ Goddamn Honey!’ both utilise heavy instrumentation and speedy synths; a combination that may seem odd at first glance, but only reflects the hard work the band have put into producing such a hard-hitting debut.

‘Let Me Remind You’ is definitely a positive start and proves that there’s no harm in knowing who you are as a band or artist even at the beginning of your career, if what you compose is well liked that is! Melrose, right up until ‘No Thanks Man, I’m High On Life!’ show their passion for what they do with wonderfully blended, harmonic vocals thrown into the mix with coarse, scream leading vocals.

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EP Review: Sonic Nights- Mirrors (Remastered)

2351259238-1Sonic Nights is made up of brothers Tom and Arthur Lohrmann and blends Pop, Dance, 1970’s Pop and Alternative elements. Produced by Sean Small, who has previously worked with the Friday Night Boys, ‘Mirrors’ has been remastered for official release and is now available on the duo’s website for just $5 (just over £3). The band’s music style is inspired by the likes of Jimmy Eat World and The Starting Line and Fountains of Wayne.

Blasting typical Pop Punk that would be perfectly at home on a Fountains of Wayne album, it almost comes across that Sonic Nights have taken their influences to heart than they come across very clearly in their music. The rhythmic guitar and simplistic drumming (as well as signature exaggerated American accent), ‘The Girl Next Door’ is made up of everything on the checklist for a Pop Punk track. Despite this, the duo have said that it was one of the most difficult songs for them to write, which is hard to believe given the straightforward structure of it. Right down to the instrumental breakdown towards the end of the track and the general relationship-overview lyrics, ‘It feels good, but it’s not right’, the All-American Rejects inspiration is difficult not to spot.

‘Back in My Head’ reflects a well-engineered band in the sense that they know who they are as artists, but fail to bring anything ground-breaking to the table. Their work is harmless but comes across as uninteresting because of almost unenthusiastic harmonies and a dull melody throughout the song.

Keeping with the trend of typical Pop Punk, ‘Friday Night’ tells the story of a summer romance and questions how the relationship might either develop or end when the summer season is over. Sonic Nights have basically done what Blink-182 did in their earlier days, but this time round, it’s all been done before and is frankly a snoozefest when it’s nowhere near as good. The most captivating part of the track is the feeble attempt at different vocals during the final breakdown, which is a stereotypical tool used in music formed to play live to get the crowd going.

However, ‘Lead You On’ does show some musical maturity and variety with heavier guitaring and less Pop-style vocals, with Sonic Nights claiming that their main inspiration for the track is Rage Against the Machine. Its overall production is more unusual and the stop-start, rapid motion of the melody draws the listener in. But the vocals become tedious due to the severe lack of vocal range illustrated.

 ‘All These Monsters’ also brings some heavier components into play and tells the tale of forming habits in your life and idolising others, reflecting the idea that addiction is a form of monster that is difficult to dispose of. Musically, it is impressive that these tracks are composed by just two people rather than being created by an entire band. Despite the Metal vibes, Sonic Nights seem to aim to make music as musically-arrogant but interesting as Muse, but simply lack the unique qualities.

The duo make use of many a catchy hook and riff but fail to reflect unusual elements through most of the EP. Sonic Nights have created somewhat dynamic music, but there’s just no spark brought about by something distinctive.

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EP Review: Angry Ballerina

555364_310754972334613_600145231_nHailing from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and influenced by the likes of major artists such as Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, Angry Ballerina are an up-and-coming alternative rock band seeking to spread the message of personal struggles, discovery and beliefs. A two-man duo, the band have recently released their debut 4-track EP, and what a way to embark upon their journey into the music industry.

The opening track, Alice in Wonderland, is an exciting exploration of the alternative music genre. It’s difficult to believe that such a colossal sound has been created by only two people. The confident lead vocals, provided by Mani Khawaja, couple neatly with the evident talent of the guitarist, Ashar Ali. The lyrics are the most striking part of this track as they explore a theme of self-discovery, making the band unique. The middle eight of the track consists of an exciting guitar solo, in which the talent of these musicians is portrayed clearly.

The second track, Demon Girl, is a slightly darker sounding track in comparison to the first. It contains quirkier riffs and more confident sounds, showing that the duo can prove their skill as the EP goes along. The vocals continue to be strong throughout, with the lyrics exploring an entirely different theme, showing their versatility.

The penultimate track, Run to Dubai, consists of an infectious tune and features Luke Henderson, offering an alternative side to the band not seen before in the previous two tracks. The guitar sound continues to increase in strength, proving that the band have more to offer and making us even more excited whilst contemplating what they could release next. The lengthy guitar solo at the end of this track is the best yet, making their influences of classic rock bands evident. This track perfectly encapsulates the raw talent of these musicians.

The final track, titled Brand New Day, starts off considerably gentler than the previous tracks. The most interesting factor about this track is the incorporation of piano, turning it into a calm love song with evidence of yearning in the lyrics. This track is a perfect way to end a diverse, stimulating and exciting debut EP and we can only live with anticipation about what is to come next.

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EP Review: Byant At Sunset-Bang Ur Head

76141_307953385973623_319537042_nLadies and gents, we are truly in a time of technology. Exhibit A of this would be Byzant At Sunset, a 3 piece musical distance project if you will. Despite having never met each other (let alone lived on the same continent), Italian saxophonist FL, American guitarist RP, and Transylvanian singer/keyboard player AB have hit the idea of true ground up music creation head on. Their newest EP, Bang Ur Head features 8 original tracks as well as a whopping 12 different mixes of the title track, remixed by other artists.

Avant-garde is putting it lightly, folks. Bang Ur Head is for the musically adventurous, with its eclectic mix of heavy electronics, deep, Serj Tankian-esque vocals, and wild saxophone. As the band has described it themselves, Byzant At Sunset is like the product of the King Crimson and Revolting Cocks’ tour buses colliding. Fans of Mr. Bungle will particularly take to the cacophony of sounds thrown at listeners as randomly as sonically possible.

What do we like about this release? If you have ever looked for anything novel, it’s right in the contents of this EP. The blend of dubstep born bass drops, elevator music, and all things Mike Patton intrigues the senses and demands replay after replay to hear something new each time. Furthermore, Bang Ur Head offers great execution from all of the instrumental counterparts and, despite the initial sense of chaos, it really comes out to be a cohesive work.

What makes us shift uncomfortably about this release? For some listeners, it may be just layering on the avant-garde a bit too thick. While we thought it was particularly interesting, we feel this release won’t appeal to the majority; but to be fair, Nickleback appeals to the majority and who wants to be like them?

Overall, we give this self-described musical “grenade” and their bold EP Bang Ur Head two thumbs up. While their sound may not draw everyone in, they’re sure to still bring about and maintain a loyal following to appreciate their talent and innovation.

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EP Review: Burned At Both Ends-I Traded My Van For Vans

537720_537015382975148_854889543_nRed Bank, New Jersey has cultivated, for our enjoyment, pop punk band Burned At Both Ends; having originally formed in 2011, there were several shifts in the line up, which ultimately ended up with the talents we see here today.

I Traded My Van For Vans is the quintet’s second EP, and entailing three songs that appeal to a wide audience, thanks to the mellow, rhythmic and alluring qualities of guitars plucked softly and catchy verses. Comprising of Giovanni Testa (Vocals), Tom Lakiszak (Guitar/Backing Vocals), Chriss Madd (Guitar/Backing Vocals) and Hugo Munoz (Bass).

The product of creatively overflowing minds, Burned At Both Ends is a band on a mission. Touring the East Coast relentlessly with their debut EP – released in late 2011 – in an attempt to get their music heard by as many new ears as possible, the band now have the beginnings of an arsenal with second EP I Traded My Van For Vans.

The first song is entitled She Only Wants A Brawny Man, and it tells a story of lost love in an appealing way that is reminiscent of indie artists with its frank lyrics and quirky dynamic. Presenting a foot-tapping rhythm and a chorus that brings a smile to the listeners face, this song is no doubt the standout of the EP. It’s a quiet, efficiently produced song that gives a cleverly disguised one finger salute at the same time.

Next is Sophomore Comeback Hero and although it’s clear that Burned At Both Ends have found their niche for this particular EP in smooth, temperate sounds, the diversity of the EP is affected slightly; though the acoustic material that is produced boasts obvious instrumental talent. Whilst each song brings a twist to I Traded My Van For Vans, the overall variation of sound is restricted to within a diminutive window.

Late Night Bedroom Songs is the closing track on this EP, and again we are presented with a beautiful combination of soft vocals, mellow guitars and an endearing melody. True to its word, this track is no doubt one played when relaxing is the key.

With their first EP proving their growing potential, all that is left for Burned At Both Ends to do, is keep up this level of intricacy within each song and let the diversity of their sound develop. With experimentation and confidence, there’s no telling where this band could go.

EP Review: The Red Velvetines – Black

red vHailing from the northern half of Northern Ireland, this dynamic young quartet demonstrates a maturity and musical knowledge well beyond their years.  Their roughed up, distorted, dirty blues ploughs a furrow that can be traced back to the late Sixties blues revival – and even further back to the rawness of southern blues – in much the same way as the likes of Band Of Skulls and Blood Red Shoes.

Indeed, the Velvetines share a common bond with both of the aforementioned, in the fact that they have a female vocalist.  There’s also a strong feeling emanating through their music which draws upon two other acts with strong female members – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The White Stripes.  Add in massive dollops of Thin Lizzy, Primal Scream, Queens Of The Stone Age (and, to a lesser extent Kyuss), The Answer and St Jude and you come close to an approximation of the acerbic, acidic, eclectic, electric and intense funk-filled blues sound which the Velvetines produce.

This second, self-released three track kicks off with ‘Get Down’, which rolls out of the speakers with a funky bass riff from Uel Taylor, the main beat of which is picked up by drummer Corkie McCorkell and then Mark Blair’s bruising but understated guitar line.  But, it’s when the vocals kick in that the song is really elevated to the next level:  Claire McCorkell (yes, she married the drummer!) has the soul and passion of Janice Joplin, combined with the fragility of Stevie Nicks and the power of Ann Wilson or Fergie… she really has that great a voice!

‘Tell Me Sister’ is more laidback and bluesy, but with a bitter edge, while ‘Ninety Nine Times’ is darker and grittier, based on a riff that feels like it has been dragged through a swamp several times and then stomped upon (and one which Rory Gallagher would probably be proud to call his own, if he were still around today), while Claire’s resonant, soulful vocal stretches her voice to the utmost limits, recalling the likes of Bessie Smith and Nina Simone but with much more angst.

This is a young band that are just getting better and better all the time, and yet more evidence of the sheer wealth of talent that is just waiting to bust out of the li’l ol’ corner of the world known as Norn Iron.

The Red Velvetines play Banbridge Football Club, with Screaming Eagles and ‘Tric, on Saturday February 9th.  Further gigs will be announced in the near future.  Follow the band on Facebook for more information.

EP Review: Stalked By Scarlet – Russian Roulette

301709_540939059268957_153578234_nLooking through Stalked By Scarlets lists of influences you could easily become confused about what they are aiming to sound like but upon hearing their Russian Roulette EP you realise they combine the best elements of Enter Shikari & Evanescence before heaping in a big dolop of metalcore and making an excellent sounding release.

Title track Russian Roulette throws you head first into the maelstrom with guitarist & vocalist James Carey delivering 30 seconds of brutal screams before Amy Rae provides the clean vocals through the bridge and chorus, thereby giving the track a layer of beauty on top of its brutal guitars and synth breakdowns.

Rae is then propelled into the limelight with the haunting Silver Linings, which is an acoustic number in which she sings the entire track herself lamenting the loneliness of a relationship that has fallen apart. It stands apart from the rest of the release in the respect of that there’s no screams and its devoid of any electronics at all, but it’s a good way of showing that you don’t always have to beat your audience over the head with your influences to get attention, and Rae’s voice can easily stand alone as one of the best in the female vocalists in her genre.

Final track Verbatim has Joel Nilsson of A Silent Escape adding his screams into the mix but its also the weakest on this release, the first two tracks set the bar so high that although Verbatim is a good track it doesn’t reach the height of the other. Nilsson’s vocals seem low fi compared to Carey’s and the overall riff seems a bit throw away but again its a song that has a lot of punch and when deconstructed you hear the piano loop going on throughout and the breakdowns give it a heavyweight punch.

Overall this release is a strong showing from this relatively new band and with the promise of new material from them on the horizon, pushed alongside a strong work ethic I can see this band scaling the height that this scene has to offer.

EP Review: Raised As Wolves

300Originating from Huddersfield and bringing with them a clean take on the saturated post-hardcore genre, are quintet Raised As Wolves.

Having formed in late 2011 whilst attending Huddersfield University, the band consists of Jezza Bruce (Vocals), James Hill (Guitar and Backing Vocals), Tom Blakemore (Guitar), Rob Hill (Bass) and Paul Davies (Drums). Since their formation Raised As Wolves have self produced their first EP (self titled) which launched them into a UK tour in July 2012 which saw them sharing the stage with the likes of Marmozets, Steak Number Eight, Mr Shiraz, Elvis Jackson and a number of other growing bands.

Their self titled EP contains four massive tracks that each have a different flavour, whilst keeping the integrity of the sound that Raised As Wolves have managed to create. First is Waste Away, which almost immediately hurls itself into a crescendo of rumbling bass lines, steady yet driving drums and vocals with enough grit they could be used to stop roads icing over. The chorus is undeniably catchy and provides the listener with a melody that is easy to slip into.

Next is a track named Ghosts In This Town, and remains one of the standout tracks for us. Singing guitars are combined most promisingly with fast-paced drumming and slightly softer vocals that give this track the edge. The verses amongst the power-house of a chorus can almost be likened to a more staccato alternative sound, which is used to great effect.

Ignite Yourself is without doubt the heaviest track on this EP, and lets us know why Raised As Wolves decided to throw themselves into a genre that is filled with success and failures. The combination of instruments is one that works so well, it is almost surprising to remember this is a first EP.

Chasing Arrows is another favourite and is a suitable track to bring about the end of this EP. Melodic, progressive and no doubt a stonking live performance, this song leaves us with a sense of promise that with a little refinement and experience, Raised As Wolves could be a band to watch for.

EP Review: Wooden Horse-You’re In My Heart

303035_272614852760901_261921340_nWooden Horse are really good. This seems like a pretty solid way to start a review. Sometimes when trawling through the material that we are sent here, the tracks have an unfinished quality. While there are a lot of great unsigned artists out there  making great music, it can sometimes feel a little unpolished, or like the bands haven’t reached their full potential for one reason or another. Not Wooden Horse though. Wooden Horse are a completely finished product. Polished and their sound, while simple, is beautiful.

Released in December 2012, the You’re in my Heart EP follows up from their successful full length LP, What Comes Around, that was championed by the likes of Sandi Thom and Joan Armatrading. The four tracks on the record vary in sound while maintaining a country/blues root. The second song, Mean Old Frisco, is particularly interesting. An Americana infused foot-stomper about San Francisco by a duo from the West Midlands is an interesting inspiration for a song, but is done so well that it has quite an authentic feel, with the vocals only having a slight American twang, certainly not enough to detract from the song as a whole.

The titular track, You’re in My Heart, feels like it’s come from a different era. It belongs in a land of barn dances and conjures up an image of rural bliss, speaking of apples and pies. But it’s simple and direct message of love is incredibly effective. Lonesome River is described as ‘blue ribbon bluegrass’ by the band themselves and the gentle soothing melodies and lulling acoustic guitar lend themselves to the lyrical theme beautifully and this track just washes over you as it’s played.

Overall, a great step forward for the two piece, leaving an eager taste in the mouth for the next full length effort! They’re embarking on a small tour at the start of the year, details of which can be found on their website and we wish them the best of luck with it. We here at Sound & Motion know that they’ll go far.