Album

Second Hand Poet – Interview

Wednesday 28th March 2018

Opening up an email late one evening, and listening to the Second Hand Poet came at the perfect time, as I found myself trying to wind down, but wanting to give my emails that one last check. Listening to the mellow and soothing sounds, I found myself instantly unwinding, yet captivated by what I was hearing. The new mini album “Songs For The Pyre” is a collection of songs that have featured on various long vanished demo EP’s, its the mark of Jamie at his most unguarded and brutally honest. On an album which pulls in two directions, from the classical violin and string clad intro and interlude, to the more traditional acoustic guitar-led balladeering. Produced by Franc Cinelli and recorded in London over a two week period, “Songs For The Pyre” uses Jamie’s DIY ethic as a point of departure, adventurously expanding the sonic palette while retaining every bit of its heart and soul.

Hello! Please could you tell me about yourself, how is all started and at what point you decided to make a career out of music?

Hi! I’m Jamie I play folk music under the moniker Second Hand Poet, I began playing music around six years ago and initially formed a band which didn’t work out, when I say didn’t work out we fizzled out before our first booked show! I then went on to play the show by myself, that show scared me into playing alone I think!

Your debut album “Songs For The Pyre” has just been released. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

The response has been very positive! Which is always nice, the record is still in the early stages of promotion so I’m hoping the response stays the same!

How did you find the process of putting the album together, and did you face any hurdles that you had to overcome?

The album has been a very long journey, especially from when the songs were initially written. The first version of ‘Songs For The Pyre’  was actually called ‘Into The Wild’, and was all recorded by myself! I put way too much time into the record and I decided to step back and let it breathe a little bit, which ended up me deciding to re-record the whole thing with a producer in charge rather than myself! Also, a few of the tracks were previously on another EP, which was put out a few years ago on a label, I had to buy back the rights myself to be able to include them on the album, that was definitely a hurdle!

What about the final track listing, were there any tracks that didn’t make the cut?

Definitely yes, I think its a positive and healthy decision being able to ditch something you’re not quite feeling creative wise. A lot of people including myself hang on to works even if they deep down know they probably should have been put to bed a fair while back! Like I said above, the album previously was something very different and the songs I scrapped just didn’t fit as well on the new sound of ‘Songs For The Pyre’.

How do you feel you have developed as an artists since your previous release, and why is now the right time to release your album?

I feel I’ve developed a huge amount from when I first started this, you definitely need to learn from mistakes to get something your proud of in this musical world, for sure. Unless you have someone that’s already gone through it all who happens to be guiding you! I think I was easily entertained with releasing demos and deciding they were good enough for a few years, I wanted to show a bit of love to the songs that appeared on various past demo ep’s by aligning them on a record! The next album will be more thought out… he says.

Who are your biggest influences and how do you draw upon your inspirations when writing and performing?

I’d say the biggest influence was going to live shows at a young age, it’s really easy to get drawn in to the musical world, but really hard to actually be in it. Obviously what I’m listening to during the writing stages sometimes strays in here and there. I’m a huge fan of Elliott Smith and sometimes when I’m winding down from a writing session he’s usually able to make me pick up the guitar again.

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the process, and what was the decision behind wanting self-promote your new album?

The process is hard, there’s so many musicians and so so many platforms readily available. If anything it’s too much. If you don’t have a label to work with, you then have to use the same routine but by yourself, do you hire in a PR company, and if you do hire a PR company do you then use a tour booking agency? I’m a bit tired of seeing other artists use these companies, it just sugar coats your music and presence when in reality the moment they stop getting paid, the campaign for your record does too. I’m trying a more natural approach to promotion at the moment by not only contacting lovely people like yourselves, but also individually the people who actually follow and like my music!

You’ve picked up quite a lot of momentum from the start and performed at quite a few festivals too. What’s been your best live performance to date, and have there been any memorable moments?

Thanks! It’s always nice to play festivals and have promoters who you can call on although sometimes I find festivals a bit detached from the crowd. It’s usually day time with not much atmosphere! For the more sombre music that is… My favorite shows are the ones that are dead quiet! When it’s just you playing your songs to an audience that are completely immersed in those thirty or so minutes.

What are your plans for the year ahead, and what live dates do you currently have lined up?

I’ll be trying to get the album out to as many people as possible still, and also booking in a few live sessions, maybe a single release also! I tend to shy away from playing live as much as I used to, it started to feel like bit of a chore! It’s lovely getting a reaction from people don’t get me wrong, but more times than not if you play too much the excitement tends to disappear. And its lonely playing on your own! There probably will be a few shows this year, and when they do you’ll know I’ve thought long and hard about playing them or not!

Finally, if you were given the opportunity to perform in the BBC Live Lounge, which song would you cover and why?

I think I’d choose a classic, maybe Roy Orbison’s ‘You Got It’ or Slade’s ‘Everyday’, I’m yet to hear them covered in the Live Lounge, but they should be for sure! BBC give me a call?

Connect with Second Hand Poet via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

The LaFontaines – Common Problem

Sunday 15th October 2017

Track Listing:

1. Explosion
2. Too Late
3. Common Problem
4. Torture
5. Hang Fire
6. Goldmine
7. Armour
8. Atlas
9. What Do I Know
10. Total Control
11. Release The Hounds
12. Asleep

Having built a reputation as one of Scotland’s most exciting live bands, The LaFontaines are making a name for themselves and fast.  They’ve already sold out Glasgow’s Barrowlands, played London’s KOKO and the main stage at T in the Park; and they’ve also performed at The Great EscapeTRNSMT and Download Festival.  Their debut album “Class” charted in the UK Top 100 and Scottish Top 10, and went on to score Number 1 in the UK Indie Breakers chart back in 2015.  Now, 2 years later the band are back with their next brutally honest and outpouring offering in the shape of their next album “Common Problem.”

“Common Problem is a much darker record than our debut release,” says front-man Kerr Okan. “We’re not as young and naive as we were in our early twenties. We’ve been around the world as a band, seen a lot of things and discovered our one big Common Problem… There is a lot of angst, truth and reality held within this album.”

Straight off the bat I knew this album would hit me instantly, and I was excited with anticipation for what was about to be laid at my feet.  With a sound that fuses together rock music with elements of rap, hip-hop and pop, it’s great to finally hear a band that are ready to sit at the top table with the likes of Twenty One Pilots and Twin Atlantic.  In fact, with opening track “Explosion” I reckon these guys would be able to tear through a Pendulum set quicker than it would take for the mic to drop.

Lead single “Common Problem” opens with a sound familiar to Paramore “Hard Times” and this is exactly where the pop influences start to shine through, and as the first release from the album it shows off the unique capabilities of The LaFontaines.  Think along the lines of Macklemore who uses all the same rap to pop components, and of the same ilk these guys then carry that on through to the rest of the album in to an honest, raw insight of the realities the band are desperate for you to hear.

Remember when the Arctic Monkeys wrote a song telling us about the seedy streets of Sheffield? Well, “Armour” has the same edge to it but with a lot more raucous energy, and an anthemic chorus that is bound to make this a live favourite.  “Atlas” is a bittersweet track, with Kerr singing “let me tell you about the pain of being alone, you can tell me about the pain of being with someone.” whilst “Release The Hounds” reels back in to an indie-pop track, before “Asleep” pounces in and finishes off the album with its trippy bass line.

I realise that I have made quite a few comparisons to other artists, but that’s because to sum it up, this album is amazing. The LaFontaines aren’t like anything that I have heard in a long time, and trying to pin point who I can relate these guys to is quite difficult. The reason for that is simply because they’re not trying to fit in to any mould or fill another bands shoes, they’re authentic and bring an originality to the rock genre.

Connect with The LaFontaines via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Rosedale – Again

Thursday 14th September 2017

Track Listing:

1. What We Started
2. Snapped In Two
3. This Dissonance
4. Space Mountain
5. Do It All Again

Rosedale started out back in 2004, when Mike Liorti was determined to chase his dream of being in a band; so he convinced his friends to get instruments so they could play together.  The name of the band was born from Rosedale Avenue, the street the band would walk down to the music store to practice the songs they had written on equipment they couldn’t quite afford.  Over the years, Rosedale went through 7 line-up changes, with band members deciding to move on; but Mike Liorti has continued the project as a solo career.  Mike is quite simply a self-confessed workaholic, but an extremely admirable one who continues to chase his dream, because it’s something he still believes in so strongly.

As a band they released 2 EPs together, with Mike continuing to release Rosedale’s debut album in 2012 by himself.  He then set out on a huge tour, starting with the aspirational Vans Warped Tour, before carrying on playing many states across the US and Canada.  Music and travelling are what Mike enjoys most, with him providing the ultimate DIY message “Commit, sacrifice, create, and above all… sustain. You really can do anything if you truly love it and nobody can represent you better than yourself. That really speaks to me.”

So you might be wondering how one person can now do the work of a full pop-rock band.  Well, Mike explains in the promotional video below how he performs whilst playing guitar and keys at the same time, but projects a video of him recording himself playing all the other instruments.  If that wasn’t intricate enough, he also programmes all the lights to be in sync with the show.  If you’re already sold on seeing Rosedale live before I’ve even got in to the review, then check out the promo video below which also talks about Mike’s upcoming North American tour.  I do enjoy writing about artists from the other side of the pond, there really are some great finds out there, but it’s even harder when you can’t get to a show!

Having drive and ambition is a good start to a successful career, but how does the music compare?  Well,  listening to “Again” and being instantly reminded of the likes of New Found GloryJimmy Eat World, and Angels & Airwaves, this release already sits nicely within my collection.  There’s certainly a gap in the market for a new act to push through, especially since the likes of pop-rock veterans New Found Glory are heading out on their 20th anniversary tour, and also Yellowcard recently decided to call it a day.

“What We Started” is a passionate opening track and I can’t help thinking that it plays homage to the band, since Mike explained in the video that the title of the EP comes from needing to continue to do things in life to succeed, and repetition is key to sustain.  That’s exactly what Mike is doing here, carrying on with the vision he had all those years ago.  “Snapped In Two” has a vigorous opening and is a melodic track, which provides heavier hooks and relatable lyrics.  The production of the EP as a whole is great, but this tracks stands out even more; with an intro that pounces straight in with beating drums that continue throughout, and the progressiveness of the guitar leading us along.  “This Dissonance” is the closest you’ll get to a slowed down pop-punk ballad, and provides Mike the opportunity to showcase his vocal talents.  In fact, the start of this track reminds me of Owl City as it has a beautiful violin to start followed by a light touch of the guitar, reminiscent of the soft sounds heard in “Fireflies.”

Carrying on, I’m not entirely sure whether the next track “Space Mountain” has anything to do with the rollercoaster, but it has taken me a few listens to get my head around it.  It’s a whirlwind of a song and I found it hard to keep up with the complicated lyrics working alongside the hectic track.  However, finishing off the EP is the very enjoyable “Do It All Again” which is an acoustic track thats starts off and continues with just Mike and his ukulele.  A very pleasing way to finish off an EP which continues to showcase Rosedale and what one man and his vision can accomplish.

Connect with Rosedale via Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Reverend & The Makers – The Death Of A King

Wednesday 30th August 2017

Track Listing:

1. Miss Haversham
2. Auld Reekie Blues
3. Bang Seray
4. Boomerang
5. Too Tough To Die
6. Carlene
7. Monkey See
8. Black Cat
9. Who Am I
10. Time Machine
11. Juliet Knows
12. Black Flowers

Reverend & The Makers are a band that instantly take me back to my days as a student.  If I was to honestly sum up University life, it wouldn’t be anything predictable like too much drinking and partying; in fact it would quite simply be indie music.  Placing a soundtrack to those days you would find me listening to the likes of Hard-Fi, The Pigeon Detectives, Razorlight, Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes to name a few.  Here I find myself all these years later and Reverend & The Makers are due to release their sixth studio album on the 22nd September, which is a great feat for any band, especially after frontman John McClure announced back in 2008 that he was done with the industry and quitting music.

Previous studio album “Mirrors” saw the band decamping to Jamaica, so this time the band decided to continue with their travelling theme and recorded their latest release “The Death Of A King” whilst in Thailand.  The video to their lead single “Too Tough To Die” is an extract from a film that was shot whilst out in Thailand, and follows the band as they arrive in a remote fishing village to record and film, however things take an unexpected twist when on the day of arrival the controversial king of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, dies.

John says that: “We loved the recording abroad thing after the last album. Gives the albums a flavour of their own and so we thought we’d give Thailand a try, take the family and all that. I’ve been there before and Pete and Carl raved about Bang Saray so we took all the gang out there. Loads of us. It had finally got back to that big collective I’d always wanted to create. Having long since given up the notion of being number One, we resolved to just make tunes we liked. Ryan’s mrs played bass for a tune, the wives and kids sang backing vocals. Being so far away from home and my family (Laura couldn’t come as she was pregnant) meant I was starting to go a bit mental by the end. I kinda feel like some of that comes thru in the tunes a bit too. I’m kind of off trying to recreate ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’. I’m 35, I have a new set of concerns. I see the world in a different way now so I’m trying to be true to who I am today.”

Listening to opening track “Miss Haversham” I can’t help thinking that it doesn’t sound anything like the band that I remember from back in the days, when I would constantly listen to “Open Your Window” and “He Said He Loved Me” back-to-back on repeat.  However, John is a man of vision and is set on staying true to himself by creating music that he likes; plus, jumping back in to a band that I haven’t listened to since their early material, it was quite naive of me not to think about how much a band would have developed their sound over this period of time.

Sticking with it, I take a shine to “Auld Reekie Blues” where vocals are shared with fellow band member Ed Cosens, which has a great soulful vibe to it and uplifting hooks.  Opening to the sound of bongos and followed by a drawing of the violin “Bang Seray” is an enlightening track that has clearly been inspired by the culture experienced whilst in Thailand, and is a subtle respite from the intricate arrangement the rest of the album goes through.  “Too Tough To Die” is still the one I enjoy the most, and is the stand-out track; which probably has something to do with the heavy bass guitar work that I find myself most comfortable with, and is reminiscent of early Reverend & The Makers.

It doesn’t take much time to work through the album as 10 of the tracks are less than 3-minutes in duration, with “Carlene” being a minute long piano ballad.  With each track taking a different turn from the next and transitioning between arrangements, there are no two tracks that sound the same. “Monkey See, Monkey Do” has Liam Gallagher written all over it, where as “Black Cat” sounds as though it’s come straight out of a musical with its brass band in tow.  Final track “Black Flowers” has the most beautiful opening, and for a moment I’m reminded of elements from “Daydreamin” by Lupe Fiasco, until Laura McClure comes in with her evocative vocals; it’s a 9-minute track of complete variation.

With all 5 previous album releases entering the UK Top 20 Albums chart, I have no doubt that the eclectic “Death Of A King” will reach successful heights of its own, whilst renewing the original spirit of the band, and continuing to gain momentum with each single released.

Connect with Reverend & The Makers via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Five o Five – Interview

Friday 18th August 2017

Hailing from beautiful Italy, indie-rockers Five o Five are bringing their Arctic Monkey vibes to the shores of the UK with the hopes of raising their profile and making themselves known.  Listening to their single “Where They Bring Sophie,” I instantly make the connection with the likes of The Black Keys and The White Stripes, who are just a few of the well-known names that have inspired the band and play a big part in their sound.  Intrigued by Five o Five and their ambition I take a moment to discover a bit more about how it all started, their upcoming album and what to expect next.

For those who are just discovering you please could you tell me more about yourselves?  Have you been in bands previously and what has driven you to form Five o Five?

We are just a group of friends and this is our first official band, even though me, Tredo and Piccio had performed before at middle school. Then with Pana, our common friend, we form the Five o Five.

How did you come up with the name for the band and is there a meaning behind it?

The name of the band has a special meaning that reminds us of our childhood spent together, but unfortunately I can’t reveal anything else, it’s a secret.

You’ve just released your single “Where They Bring Sophie.”  How are you finding the response to your music so far?

We’ve had a lot of positive outcomes especially from musical experts. We hope our song will be more popular over time.

You’re due to release your debut album ‘@Y&!’ in September.  What can we expect from the album, and how did you find the process of putting it together?

The album has been recorded in Antonio Polidoro’s studio in Milan, called “Blap studio,” under Giuseppe Fiori’s guide. The production of the album has been very intense and in little time we recorded all the songs in a vey precise way and with a vast knowledge of sound and rhythm.

Are there any tracks in particular that you’re looking forward to getting out there?

We can’t wait to let you listen to the songs of our new album, especially for “May Is Coming,” our most fresh song, and “This House Is All To Be Burned,” which is smashing.

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged and helped you to develop your sound?

Our sound is typical of our genre. We were inspired by famous indie rock bands, like Arctic Monkeys, Blur, Kasabian, mixed with electronic music in style of Air. 

What’s the music scene like in Italy for up and coming artists?

The only possibilities we have is to perform in bars where the pay isn’t very high. Apart from that there are festivals in the big cities which give upcoming artists a chance. Since there aren’t many chances to perform in Italy we would like to have this opportunity to perform in England.

What’s your tour schedule looking like for this year, and when can we next catch you at a show?

We have scheduled 2 different tours: one is from 4th to 12th September and the other one is from 30th October to November 6th. 

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the whole process, and have you been given any lasting advice?

We are trying really hard to create new sounds and lots of new songs. We are trying to improve the instruments and create something innovative. We also received some advice from experts, like fixing the scenic presence.

What would you say is the next step for the band?  If I came back to chat with you in another year, where would you hope to be?

The next step of our band is to put ourselves out there and make ourselves known. We hope to play at some important festivals but I can’t really specify what I would want in 2 or 5 years. All I can say is I hope for the best.

Connect with Five o Five via their Facebook.

Chris Blackwood – Interview

Friday 18th August 2017

Fresh off the back of his debut album release, I spent time chatting with Chris Blackwood about his music career so far, and what has encouraged him to push forward with a career in music.  Upon first listen I was taken aback by the amount of sheer talent Chris has, and it’s aparent that growing up listening to the likes of Oasis and Bob Dylan has played a big part in how his songwriting has been influenced.  The debut self-titled album is a concept album that tells a tail through the different stages of life; starting with birth, then moving in to the confusing middle years, and finishing with a bitter ending.  After playing in and around Manchester, Chris is now stepping out and ready for national recognition.

Hello! Please could you tell me about how it all started for you? Has there been anyone in particular that has inspired you to take the step in to music, and at what point did you know you wanted to make a career out of it?

The first real connection to music I felt was seeing the “Supersonic” video by Oasis on TV. I was only twelve, but it blew me away. The music really connected to me, and I spent the next four years devouring indie rock music. Then when I was seventeen I discovered Bob Dylan and that blew my mind again. This time with words and lyrics. It was at this point I knew I had to make a career out of it. I had been writing songs ever since I started learning guitar was I was twelve, but Dylan made me write different kinds of songs. Songs that matter.

Your single “The Quiet Elude” is the first release from your debut album. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

Fantastic. People understand it which is the main thing. It’s short, simple and effective, which is perfect for a first single from an album. My main worry was that it doesn’t really reflect the album’s sound, but I chose the song as it would be the neatest transition between the acoustic EP’s and the fully fledged full band album.

Who did you work with for the accompanying video for the single, and where did the shoot take place?

I worked with Gaz Davies, who is a fantastic filmmaker. We shot the music video above a jazz bar in Stephenson’s Square, Manchester. It was this cool little photography studio. We got rid of all the backdrops and just kept the room looking bare, as I thought that’d match the aesthetic of the song. We got it all filmed in three hours! A short amount of time that reflect the brevity of the song. Gaz is also filming the album release show on 2nd September.

Could you tell me about your writing process, and how you know when a song is ready? Is there anyone who you can bounce ideas around with?

Songs come from nowhere. Most of the time I’ll have an idea that pops into my head and I’ll run to my guitar to pick it out. Normally I’ll figure the rest out in less than half an hour and the song is done. You can’t just sit down and write. The labour will show. It needs to be natural and unforced to make it seem organic and real.

I always write songs by myself, apart from my single “Unwinds,” which was written with James Fewkes. There is also a song on SoundCloud called “Slipstream,” which was written with Rob Jones. But apart from this I write them all by myself.

What can we expect from your upcoming self-titled album, and how did you find the process of putting it together?

Oh it’s a journey definitely. Everything’s very carefully placed. It’s been a few years in the making in my mind, and it took about eight months to record. It was relatively easy to record because I had all the parts already figured out from years of playing them. The hardest I’d say to get right were the instrumentals. I’ve never done an instrumental track before, never mind three. I wanted to get these to not seem out of place with the rest of the tracks.

What has drawn you to create a concept album, and do any of the tracks draw upon personal experiences?

Every release I do has some kind of concept. Maybe that was inspired by listening to Pink Floyd and The Beatles when I was younger. The two acoustic EP’s had individual concepts, and these were differentiated with each other. Dark and light. This album is like chapter one of a wider concept I’m planning.

All these tracks draw from personal experiences. The problem with this is that it needs to be broad enough to fit into everyone else’s personal experiences. But I believe everyone feels these things when they’re growing up, so I’d like to think the concept is universal. But I don’t force it either. A concept should never get in the way of good songs, then it gets too pretentious. People can find their own meaning in the tracklisting, that is the best way to listen to this album.

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged and helped you to develop your sound?

Pink Floyd and The Beatles as I said earlier are my inspiration for concept-driven music. Apart from that I’m heavily inspired for this album by Elliott Smith and Pavement. Also Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines, two bands I listened to a lot of when I was a teenager.

I used influences as a device on this album. The first half is inspired by the indie rock I listened to when I was a teenager, the second half inspired by Bob Dylan, Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine.

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the whole process, and have you been given any lasting advice?

The only lasting advice I’ve been given is that a career in this industry doesn’t last. That’s why you’ve got to give it your all while you’ve still got it. That’s why I’ve decided to release everything myself. I don’t want to wait for a record company to come along for me to record the music I want. I worked for an entire summer to afford the recording costs of this album. You’ve got to do it yourself. Don’t rely on anyone else.

How are you feeling about your album release show and are there any tracks in particular that you’re most excited about performing live?

Very excited, first time I’ve played with a full band. It’s at a little placed called Aatma, not far from where we filmed the music video. The support acts are fantastic as well. Mystic Rose, The Prions and Scott Lloyd.

I’m looking forward to playing it all to be honest. You can get so much sound out of four people rather than one acoustic guitar. A much more fully-formed sound. But if it’d have to be one track, I’d be “Faraway.” The outro will be fantastic live, and I’m looking forward to how people react to it.

Finally, what other artists are you listening to at the moment and do you have any recommendations?

I’m really liking Sonic Youth at the moment. I’d like to incorporate more noise rock elements into my music. I’ve added partly noise/shoegaze elements to the outro of “Faraway,” but I’d love to investigate more.

Also I’m loving Can. Krautrock is something I’d love to explore further. I did a twenty minute version of my song “Whirlwind” a while back and I’d love to release it if the opportunity arose.

Connect with Chris Blackwood via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Awake At Last – Life/Death/Rebirth

Thursday 3rd August 2017

Track Listing:

1. Purgatorium
2. Analysis Paralysis
3. Dark Waltz
4. White Rabbit
5. Constellations
6. Reflections

Awake At Last are a band that I always get excited about.  They first contacted me in 2015 following the release of their King of the World EP and I really enjoyed their sound.  It’s always great to hear about bands and artists from the other side of the pond so I had to interview Awake At Last to find out more.  Since our initial chat things have been moving forward really well for the band; they contacted me again in 2016 to let me know they’d just wrapped up their next EP following a successful Indigogo campaign, and here we are now less than a year later and we can get our ears around their latest offering Life/Death/Rebirth.

Initially when I first listened to the album it reminded me straight away why I really enjoy this band.  So much energy has gone in to the release and there’s a clear progression from their previous material which has been well built upon.  I remember when Never Be A Memory was released, their first single in a couple of years since the King of the World EP and at the time it was apparent how much Awake At Last were evolving.

Speaking with guitarist Imran Xhelili last year ahead of the release he explained that “We’ve definitely pushed ourselves more musically – the guitars are definitely doing a lot more as are the drums, bass and vocal melodies. There’s a lot more energy on the new EP and we’re all confident in the change of direction the progression of our sound, since we would never want to release the same CD twice. We all came together a lot more on the song writing as a full band and were able to blend our influences into this new direction of Awake At Last.”

Opening track Purgatorium provides a great opportunity for lead singer Vincent Torres to showcase the range and quality of his well-established vocals.  The chilling opening is theatrical, with a gradual build-up and a soft sound inviting you in, and then when the progressiveness kicks in all hell breaks loose and you’re thrown straight in to a journey of an EP that tells a story of redemption.  Analysis Paralysis has a dark intro with mighty guitar work and a tasty riff, and opens the way for realisation that you’re in for a much heavier release, and lyrically it’s very poignant too.

It can be really difficult trying to stand out in such a competitive industry, but to me Awake At Last have always gone beyond their ambitions to make the band work, and it’s clear they’re not scared to push in to a genre that others have yet to dare tread.  Dark Waltz and White Rabbit are forcefully vigorous tracks and fill the release with a display that shows they’re not scared to move out of their comfort zone.  I especially enjoy the expression in the lyrics for White Rabbit, with Vincent declaring that “I’m not heartless I just use my heart less” it’s commanding, powerful and relatable.

Constellations is a howling track, and possibly one of my favourites on the EP.  The way in which the drums and guitars work together creates an absolute storm, and how they work the different paces the track goes through is intricate.  I was once told by a friend that drummers don’t get enough attention in bands and this has always stuck with me, so I have to make sure I point out how the drumming really stands out and accelerates in this track.  Keeping up the pace, Reflections brings the grunge and is a lot edgier, but after professing that “we care to much or we don’t care enough, I’m sick of the concept of falling in love” it takes us on a steadier step towards the end of the EP.

Life/Death/Rebirth is a solid release that’s tightly polished and one that Awake At Last should be proud of.  They continue to go from strength to strength and it would be great to see a full album next, or even have these guys signed.  They work hard, tour hard, and do everything they can to make the band work and get their name out there; it’s time these guys were snapped up to a label!  So if you’re in the neighbourhood looking for something new to grace your speakers, give Awake At Last a spin, you won’t be dissapointed.

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