WIDE EYED BOY – Artist Spotlight & Interview

Wide Eyed Boy

Liverpool foursome Wide Eyed Boy burst onto the local music scene in early 2017 with their gorgeous debut single “Wolves,” quickly making a name for themselves throughout the UK and beyond – even here in the Coachella Valley of Southern California where yours truly resides. They followed up in July with another magnificent single “Loving You is So Easy.” I loved both songs so much I featured them on this blog, and both reached #1 on my Weekly Top 20. “Wolves” ended up at #17 and “Loving You is So Easy” at #13 on my 100 Best Songs of 2017.

Wide Eyed Boy is comprised of Oliver Nagy (Vocals), Jonny Ball (Guitars), Kobi “Danger” Pham (Guitars, keyboards) and Tom Taylor (Drums). In March, they dropped their third single “Sun Again,” another stellar track that provides further proof they’re a band of exceptional songwriting talent and musicianship. The exuberant track opens strong with roiling riffs of fuzzy guitars, propelled by Tom’s hammering drums and a cascade of crashing cymbals. Oliver’s smooth, clear vocals are dazzling as always, soaring along with the instrumentals as they build to a goosebump-inducing crescendo. Regarding the song, the band states: “It’s about escape. Breaking out of that vicious cycle of mundane life and getting back that sense of freedom to go do whatever the hell you want.”

I’d like to say that I ‘sat down with’ the band for a conversation – which I would absolutely love to do! – but, given the fact we’re 6,000 miles apart, we conducted our interview over the internet. Fortunately, all four band members took time to respond to my questions.

EML: Hello guys, I’m honored to have the opportunity to interview you! As you know, I’ve been a huge fan of yours since I first heard “Wolves.” I think you’re one of the best indie bands in the UK, if not the world! I already know a bit about you – that you all met at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), became friends and eventually formed a band. Also, you went to Budapest, Hungary in 2016 to write songs. What prompted you to decide to go to Budapest? Did you feel you’d have more inspiration for your songwriting there, rather than in Liverpool, and if so, why?

Jonny:  Thanks for having us! Yeah that’s how it all started. We’ve written a lot of music in Liverpool so Budapest was an opportunity to go somewhere completely different, have some fun, get sunstroke and gain some inspiration from a new environment. As Oli’s family are originally from Hungary they still have a house  in the country which is what gave us the chance to go over and make some noise for a couple of weeks.

EML: Is your songwriting a collaborative process that each of you take a roughly equal part in? Or do certain band members take greater responsibility for writing lyrics and/or music?

Kobi:  Our songwriting is definitely a collaborative process! Most of the time Jonny, Tom and I will have more of an influence on the music/arrangement side of things and Oli writes the main melodies and harmony and lays down the bare bones of lyrics. But the cool thing is, at the end of it, we sit down and go through all the ideas Oli has and we finish the lyrics off together to get some sort of finalised song. Collaboration is the only way to make music great!

EML: I don’t know your ages, but you all exhibit a real maturity in your songwriting, both in terms of compelling lyrics and your gorgeous melodies, not to mention your amazing musicianship. Were any of you active musicians or play in other bands prior to attending LIPA?

Tom: We all played in bands before we went to LIPA. It’s what we loved to do, I started my first band back at school. I remember we got all of our mates to come down to the local pub and we played a gig, I think we only had two songs so the rest we just played covers. So yeah we all played loads of music before WIDE EYED BOY I’m sure if you asked we still all remember our first gig but that’s another question.

EML: Oliver, you have an incredible voice, which I’m guessing is a natural gift to a large degree. Did you have formal vocal training while growing up or at LIPA?

Ollie: Thank you for the compliment. I had one to one singing lessons at LIPA and I also had training in Germany years ago. Obviously it did always come natural to me and I started singing professionally at the age of 10 but after my voice broke I felt like I needed to relearn how to use my voice properly.

EML: Your songs are really magnificent, with expansive instrumentation and arrangements that transcend mere pop and rock. What and/or who are some of the influences for your sound and songwriting?

Tom: In WIDE EYED BOY we are each influenced by so many different bands but its good really as it means when we’re travelling we have loads of different tunes on in the car. We all agree on Oasis and RHCP, but coming from a city like Liverpool there are so many bands that we’ve been watching for years like Clean Cut Kid and The Wombats. We’ve also been lucky to go on tour with Feeder and The Rifles and we learnt loads from them. There’s too many to list really.

EML:  I already love your latest single “Sun Again,” which you formally released on March 9th, but I saw a video of you performing an acoustic version of it a year ago on Liverpool Noise. I’m assuming it’s one of the many songs you wrote while in Budapest. I’m curious as to why you are periodically releasing singles, rather than an EP or album, given that you’ve already written enough songs for a full album? And when do you plan on releasing a full album?

Jonny: Thank you very much, Sun Again was actually one of the first songs we wrote as a band and was an idea around for a while that we’re really glad we finished and recorded. We’re still a really new band so releasing singles just made a lot of sense to us at this point although there’s no doubt bigger bodies of work will be coming sometime soon.

EML: Despite releasing only a few singles, you’ve managed to quickly build quite a large following, which has to be incredibly gratifying. Has your seemingly overnight success been a surprise, and do you feel any pressure to keep upping your game?

Ollie: It truly feels amazing when the crowd sings along to our songs because it shows that we actually managed to reach people. I wouldn’t personally call it an overnight success because if you are so closely involved in a project you don’t even realise how it’s growing. However, we do obviously notice the positive resonance and all we can do is to try our best, and release music we are very proud of.

EML:  I see this question asked by a lot of interviewers, but I’m gonna ask it anyway LOL. In addition to what we’ve already discussed, are there any other things about you or your music I neglected to ask that you’d like your fans to know?

Kobi: Haha, if you’re wondering if we have any new songs coming soon…we have LOTS of new material we have been working on…that’s all I can say at the moment but they’re very exciting, not going to spoil anything (I’m terrible at secrets).

Here’s a fun fact, our band name Wide Eyed Boy is actually someone…a human in this world (alive)…I’ll let people figure it out!

Have a listen to their songs and I’m confident you’ll agree that they’re pretty amazing.

Connect with Wide Eyed Boy: Facebook / TwitterInstagram
Stream their music:  SpotifySoundcloud
Purchase:  iTunes / Google Play

V A L E – Single Review: “Better Place”

VALE

UK indie pop band V A L E  set the winter airwaves ablaze this past January with their gorgeous debut single “Fire.” Now the East Midlands duo – consisting of Will Bond (vocals, piano, synths & guitar) and Olly Walton (drums & synths) – return with a breathtaking new single “Better Place.” Employing lush synths and a seductive dance beat in a similar style to that which made “Fire” such a marvelous track, with “Better Place” V A L E has created an emotionally stirring and achingly beautiful dream pop song.

Starting off with dramatic piano keys, the guys add layers of sparkling synths and a gorgeous, mesmerizing guitar riff, all set to a pulsating dance beat that grabs us by the ears, hips and heart. Will’s smooth vocals are captivating as he fervently sings of the betrayal that’s caused him pain and led to the breakup of their relationship:

You were the reason I was riding on the wave
You pulled the plug now I’m sinking
I stood and watched you turn my trust into the grave
I don’t know what I was thinking

I gave you everything so why’d you misbehave?
You knew my love was unblinking
And all the times I turned an eye and still forgave
You let me down now I’m drinking

Ooh, I still think about ya
Ooh, I still see your face
Ooh, life goes on without ya
Ooh, need to find a better place

With just two stellar singles thus far, V A L E is already establishing themselves as an act on the rise and one to watch. I love their songs and look forward to hearing more from them soon.

Connect with VALE: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

“Better Place” will be available for streaming or purchase on all major music platforms on May 25th.

JAMES BAKIAN – Single Review: “Ice Cold”

James Bakian

James Bakian is a majorly talented and charismatic young singer/songwriter from London, UK. He’s only 14 years old, but possesses a phenomenal vocal styling with a maturity beyond his years. He writes all his own songs and music, and records all the instruments. He’s also a hard-working and prolific musician. James released his second EP Unstoppable – a really fine effort featuring six tracks – in late 2017 (which I reviewed), and in the first three months of 2018 he’s already dropped five new singles, the latest of which is “Ice Cold,” which debuted on March 30.

The new song is a bit of a departure from his usual soulful pop sound. James states that he’s been exploring R&B and lo-fi hip-hop, and boy does he deliver! The track is mesmerizing, starting off with sounds of static and a hesitating synth chord, then unfolding into a gorgeous soundscape of shimmering keyboard synths floating above a languid hip hop beat. James’ smooth vocals are captivating, and sound better than ever. He can seduce us one moment, then raise goosebumps with impassioned pleas the next. It’s a fantastic song, and it’s wonderful seeing his music and vocals continue to mature so nicely.

“Ice Cold” speaks to not allowing self-doubt and past mistakes to turn you into a bitter person:

Build up strength to live a day yeah
All you want is to escape yeah
Don’t let words intoxicate you
We all get deserted sometimes

We get disappointed with what we’re assigned
Can’t go without a complaint in your mind
Losing your patience is turning you blind
You need space to rewind

Cause you’re ice cold
And it’s making you bad but you deserve a chance
And we all make our mistakes but they are just mistakes
We don’t catch the message so we all get sad

Connect with James:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music on  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on  iTunes

JAMES BAKIAN – EP Review: “Unstoppable”

James Bakian EP

There are so many talented musicians making really good music these days, but every so often we come upon one who stands above the crowd. James Bakian, a charismatic young singer/songwriter from London, UK, is such an artist. He’s only 14 years old, but possesses a phenomenal vocal styling with a maturity beyond his years. His love of music has been in his blood since he was a young child, and he wrote his first song “Oh Baby” at the age of six! He began studying piano at seven, and from that point on, he knew he wanted a career in music.

Drawing inspiration from some of his favorite artists like Maroon 5, Charlie Puth, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Sia, Selena Gomez, Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber and Drake, James has developed a singing style that fits his beautiful voice. In his bio, he explains his creative process:  “When the inspiration to write a song comes, I sit at the piano, a melody forms and then the lyrics flow! I write a lot about love and heartbreak but I’ve never been in love…yet! My dream is to keep writing and singing and for people to get to know and enjoy my music! One day I’d love to do a world tour.

James Bakian

James released a very respectable debut EP By Your Side in 2016, and at the end of 2017 he dropped his second EP Unstoppable. The new EP shows how much his vocals and songwriting have matured in less than two years. On the sultry title track “Unstoppable,” he effortlessly goes from a seductive croon to a yearning falsetto as he pledges his undying love, pleading for her not to hurt him. The warm synths and crisp percussion are beautiful and soothing, a perfect accompaniment to his superb vocals.

Most of his songs are piano-driven compositions, backed with lovely violin-heavy synths, gentle percussion and subtle guitar. On the melancholy “Ain’t Sure,” James emotionally declares “I ain’t sure if I want you more / I’m letting go / You’ve broken me, you tore me up I’m on the floor / I can’t believe how I ever thought you cared about me.”  “Colour” has him extolling the depth of his adoration, pleading for her to let him go if she can’t love him the way he loves her. The uptempo “Know You” features a softly pulsating dance beat, and the funky guitar in the outro is a nice touch. And as always, James’ vocals are flawlessly sublime.

Poison” is a terrific kiss-off song set to a thumping bass-driven dance beat. James rebukes a former lover who’s now toxic for him: “You’re poison, it hurts me. Don’t think I can take this. You destroyed me with your kiss. You gotta leave. I’ll make it, please right now.”  “Red Dress” has him mourning the loss of a girl he loved who’s now left him: “Oh there she goes off to where who knows? But all I know is that she’s gone. Never coming back. Disappeared from view.”

Unstoppable is a wonderful EP, and a fitting description for this supremely talented young man with a big, beautiful voice. James is an ambitious, hard-working guy, and just a few weeks after the release of Unstoppable, he dropped two new singles! I’m certain that his star will only grow brighter as his songwriting and vocal style continue to mature.

Connect with James:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music on  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on  iTunes

ANCA – EP Review: “Tomorrow in Sight”

ANCA album cover

Anca is a lovely young indie singer/songwriter from Sydney, Australia who released her equally lovely debut EP Tomorrow in Sight in December 2017. She writes heartfelt lyrics based partly on her own personal experiences, and sets them to delicate piano-driven melodies. She played piano and drums on all the tracks, with assistance from Ian Craig on guitar and JimmyJay Lovelace on bass.

Her folk-pop music style contains elements that at times remind me a tiny bit like Jewel, yet sounds totally fresh and original. In her bio info, Anca shares her feelings about the EP: “This is my debut EP of the best songs I wrote before turning 21. Recorded on the piano I grew up with, I am incredibly excited to share the music from this period of my life. After the release of this record, tomorrow is in sight with my adult songs coming next year!

Opening track “Trainwreck” sets the tone with a sweet piano riff and gently strummed electric guitar creating a mood that’s soothing, yet lighthearted. ANCA’s delicate vocals are enchanting as they skitter across the soundwaves. She explains the meaning of the song and its charming video:

Trainwreck is a song where I am laughing at myself for how terrible I am when it comes to dating. The particular story starts with me starting to see a guy and things going really well until we hang out and I have a few too many and make an absolute idiot out of myself. The video definitely goes overboard – I didn’t really break a glass in the original but the catastrophe level was pretty close! But hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself then what can you do? At least one of us found it funny!

On “Red Flags” Anca muses on whether she should open herself up to a possible relationship: “I could be wrong, maybe I should let you in“, yet she has reservations, afraid of being hurt: “Red flags run from my eyes. I know it’s hard to see when you’re so high.” The track features a beautiful little guitar riff, accompanied by subtle piano and gently pummeling drums.

Learning to Let Go” has her coming to terms with the pain caused by a failed relationship and moving on: “Learning to let go was the hardest thing I’ve ever known.” Continuing on that theme, Anca closes the door on any hope of a reconciliation on “Talk About It.” “Why don’t you run away. I don’t know why you want to talk about it. I know why I don’t want to talk about it. You’re not gonna change my mind.” And though the song is clearly pop-oriented, her vocals at times have a bit of a hip hop quality in their cadence.

Anca turns somber on the haunting “Hey Anna,” addressing the pain and despair of someone having the unattainable goal to be perfect: “Hey Anna, get out of my head. You made your point, I heard what you said. / What the mirror shows, is someone I don’t know. You know I’d give anything to be perfect.” But then she sings an emotional tribute to the strength and inspiration she gains from her grandma on the folk ballad “Nana’s Song.” “When I’m with you, I don’t have to be afraid. If I cry, you chase the monsters away. When I’m with you, I don’t have to wear a mask. If I tried, you see right through it anyway.”

It’s an uplifting finish to a fine EP that takes us on Anca’s journey of self-discovery and life lessons learned. I hope she delivers on her promise of new music very soon.

Connect with ANCA:  Website / Facebook / Instagram
Stream her music on Spotify or Apple Music  and purchase on iTunes or Bandcamp

SOMEHOW – Single Review: “Someday”

For the first time on this blog, I shine my spotlight on Paris, France, to Erwan Pépiot, a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who goes by the artistic name Somehow.  He released a self-produced debut album The Desert of Wasted Time in 2016, receiving positive reviews in numerous French indie webzines. In June, he dropped a new album Hidden Memories on Toolong Records, also to wide acclaim both in Europe and the U.S., and has just released a beautiful new single from the album, titled “Someday.”

Somehow’s sound can be described as somewhere between Joy Division and Belle & Sebastian, with a vocal styling reminiscent of Morrissey or Ian Curtis. He wrote, recorded and mixed Hidden Memories in his own home studio, and was assisted by Aurélie Tremblay, who provided backing vocals and some fine cello work.

Somehow

“Someday” is a sublime pop song with a folk sensibility. The dominant feature is the layered nimble acoustic guitar work that goes from gentle strumming to jangly and swirling riffs. A beautifully-played melodica adds a soothing yet rich sound, backed by subtle bass and percussion. It all makes for an upbeat, incredibly pleasing listen, though the lyrics turn a bit darker toward the end of the track. With his warm, smooth vocals, Somehow earnestly sings of moving on in the hope of finding peace of mind and a better life one day, only to realize there’s no running away from your problems:

Oh it’s time to pull up stakes and become a drifter again
Someday, someday, we’ll have a different state of mind
A different way of living
And some way, someday we’ll find a different style, other ideas to stand for

Our surrounding sky is falling
The surrounding sky is falling apart, there’s nowhere else to go

Connect with Somehow:  Facebook / Twitter

Stream/purchase his music: Bandcamp / Soundcloud / Spotify

WIDE EYED BOY Release New Video for “Loving You Is So Easy”

Wide Eyed Boy2

Wide Eyed Boy is an exceptionally talented New Wave/Indie Pop band that’s quickly becoming one my favorites.  The Liverpool, UK based four-piece is comprised of Oliver Nagy (Vocals), Jonny Ball (Guitars), Kobi “Danger” Pham (Guitars, keyboards) and Tom Taylor (Drums).  They released a gorgeous debut single “Wolves” last March, which I reviewed, and you can read here. (It’s one of my favorite songs of 2017, reaching #1 and spending 18 weeks on my Weekly Top 20.)

The guys recently dropped their follow-up single “Loving You Is So Easy,” a track slower in tempo than “Wolves,” but every bit as beautiful. I didn’t think it possible they could come up with another song as magnificent as “Wolves,” but how foolish I was to think that, because Wide Eyed Boy have pulled it off nicely. Lush sweeping synths, Ball and Pham’s swirling guitars, Taylor’s on-point drums, and Nagy’s captivating vocals are all simply breathtaking. The song lyrics are fairly straightforward – “I don’t care the way you care. I can see it in your stare. But the way that we collide, it’s getting harder every time. Loving you is so easy. Easy when I’m down, down, down” – but Nagy delivers them quite seductively, before launching into a soaring falsetto in the chorus that raises goosebumps.

The video produced for the track is stunning. The minimalist set and subdued lighting, accentuated with background fluorescents, create the perfect mood for the sensuous track. I much prefer music videos that show the artist or band performing the song, rather than an acted-out story, unless it’s directly relevant to the lyrics. Of course, it’s always a plus when the band is charismatic, and Wide Eyed Boy has it in spades. Nagy has a magnetism that calls to mind the legendary front men Jim Morrison or Michael Hutchence.

Take a look:

Connect with Wide Eyed Boy: Facebook / TwitterInstagram

Stream their music:  SpotifySoundcloud

Purchase:  iTunes / Google Play

MICCOLI – EP Review: “1/2”

I’m back in the UK to shine my spotlight on Miccoli, a wonderful adult alternative/pop band from Birmingham, England. The band is comprised of three talented and strikingly attractive siblings: twin brothers Adriano and Alex Miccoli and their sister Francesca. Adriano plays guitar, Alex plays piano and guitar, and Francesca plays piano and harmonica, and all sing – quite beautifully I must say. In fact, their extraordinary harmonizing vocals are a hallmark of their sublime music style.

They’ve been making music together for many years, but 2017 is turning out to be a break-out year for Miccoli. In February, they released a gorgeous single “Idle Stranger” to rave reviews, and now deliver a lovely four-track EP entitled 1/2 which drops today, May 12. The songs deal with love and relationships, and the challenges they bring. In addition to the smooth vocals, their music features beautiful melodies, soft piano and stellar guitar work that make for an incredibly pleasing listen.

Miccoli

The first track “Idle Stranger” is a bittersweet plea for someone to not toy with your affections, acting like they love you but unable to fully commit: “So hear me now cause I don’t wanna be loved by you, if you’are gonna be an idle idle idle stranger. I’ve told you now cause I don’t wanna feel love like this cause you will always be an idle idle idle stranger.” The intricate, layered guitar work is exceptional, and nicely paired with gentle piano and percussion.  The beautiful video produced for the song was filmed in Venice.

The emotionally-charged “Undo” speaks to a loved one who’s slipping away from the relationship: “Every time that I get close to you, you’re a world away and I just can’t get through. All you do all you do is try, to undo. But this heart beats for you.” The track starts off slowly, with a gentle strummed guitar and Miccoli’s soft vocals, then breaks open with an assertive drum beat and lots of fantastic layered guitars.

Lights” is a lovely song with a catchy melody and hopeful lyrics: “Cause when the lights go out and I’m all alone, and I feel like there’s nowhere to turn, I will close my eyes and I’ll think of you. ‘Cause you are every beat of my heart.” The jangly guitars on this track are especially nice. The band just released a great new video for the song that was filmed in Las Vegas, famed for its lights and thus perfectly suited for the track.

The final track “Devices” is breathtakingly beautiful, with mellow strummed guitar and delicate piano. Miccoli’s beguiling harmonic vocals register just above a whisper, giving the song an ethereal quality. It’s my personal favorite of their songs, though I think every one of them is superb. This terrific EP is well-crafted and definitely worth owning.

Follow Miccoli:  Website /  Facebook /  Twitter
Stream their music:  Spotify /  Soundcloud / YouTube
Purchase it:  iTunes /  Amazon

Song Review: WIDE EYED BOY – “Wolves”

I know that I keep featuring artists and bands from the UK on this blog, but there are just so many good ones making great music that I can’t help myself. Another recent discovery is Wide Eyed Boy, a four-man New Wave/Indie-pop collective based in Liverpool, a city rich in music history and influence. They’ve released a stunning new single “Wolves” in advance of their self-titled debut EP due for release this Spring.

wide-eyed-boy

Wide Eyed Boy consists of Oliver Nagy (Vocals), Jonny Ball (Guitars), Kobi “Danger” Pham (Guitars) and Tom Taylor (Drums). They all met at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (which was founded by Paul McCartney and Mark Featherstone-Witty), and bonded over a shared love of music. They headed to Budapest, Hungary in 2016 to write songs for their album and returned to Liverpool to record it with the help of producer Rich Turvey.

“Wolves” is one of those songs that make you stand up and take notice the moment you first hear it. Everything about it is perfect – the melody, lyrics, arrangement, production, instrumentals and vocals. Musically, the song has an exuberant, hard-driving drumbeat, gorgeous sweeping synths and nimble multi-layered guitars. Nagy has an incredible voice, and his soaring vocals are absolutely mesmerizing, adding a haunting beauty to this exceptional track. I loved it at first listen, and kept hitting replay.

Nagy stated the song ‘is about letting people in that are bad for you.’ He passionately sings “Why can’t I leave it all behind? Why can’t I save myself this time? I fall just a little bit, don’t wanna be a part of it. Wolves are the only friends I know.

The beautiful video contains frenetic scenes of urban life, filmed in and around Manhattan.

Wide Eyed Boy have set the bar quite high with “Wolves,” and if their other songs are even half as good, our ears are in for a real treat when they release their EP. I for one can’t wait to hear it! Support these guys by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Stream “Wolves” on Soundcloud.

Album Review: Above The Skyline – “Go For Broke”

South Florida has a vibrant music scene, thanks to a diverse, multi-cultural population with a tremendous mix of influences. Several months ago I wrote a feature on the Miami-based indie rock band SunGhosts, and now I shine a spotlight on the young, incredibly talented five member collective Above The Skyline. They play an edgy style of alternative pop/rock with touches of R&B, funk and punk. Following up on their acclaimed 2015 EP A Different Breed, the young band (all are in their early 20’s) have released an ambitious new album Go For Broke.

Their bio states “the band prides itself on being different but yet producing a sound that everyone can love and listen to with ease.” That’s certainly the case, as Go For Broke is chock-full of melodic tunes that feature catchy hooks, complex, multi-layered guitar riffs, dynamic percussion and really fine vocals.  Making this great music are Chloe Santiago on drums, Eric Green on guitar, Zach Wood on keyboards and vocals, Alec Enriquez on bass, and Peach Martine on vocals.  Chloe and Eric, who’ve known each other since they were kids and have been playing together for more than 12 years, formed Above The Skyline in 2013. Within a year, Zach, Alec and Peach joined the band, completing the current lineup. 

Despite their youth, all have extensive musical backgrounds. Eric began studying music history and theory at the age of five, along with taking piano lessons, and at nine he began studying guitar. He met Chloe while taking lessons at Music Depot, and eventually was part of a couple of hardcore metal bands. Chloe started playing drums at seven, and played in marching bands in middle and high school. Zach is grateful his mother forced him to take piano lessons, which eventually led him to learn saxophone and percussion as well. He also played in middle and high school marching bands. Alec began studying guitar in high school, and eventually fell in love with the bass. Peach, who not only sings, but is also a songwriter and actress, has been writing and recording since penning her first song on the piano at age six. She plays piano, guitar, some violin and harmonica.

above-the-skyline

The album opens strong with “Another Side of Me,” a power-ballad that introduces us to the band’s killer guitars and highly melodic music style. Buzzing guitars work in tandem with a driving drumbeat and Alec’s heavy bass, resulting in a crazy-good track. Zach fervently sings “All I want you to do is stop being you. You’ve got another side of me that I don’t want none of.”  The catchy, energetic “Counting Heartbeats” comes at us with a thumping drumbeat and shredded guitars, then we’re hit with Peach’s commanding vocals and, halfway through the song, assertive piano is introduced, adding complexity to the track.

“Do I Really Look Like I’m a Guy With a Plan Margot” is a standout track, and one of my favorites on the album. Its incredible arrangement – featuring thunderous guitar riffs, pummeling drums, intricate piano and soaring violin – give it a rock opera vibe. Zach’s powerful vocals match the intensity of the music. Plus, it’s a great song title!  The band channels the Red Hot Chili Peppers a bit on “Entitled,” with guitar chords similar to the awesome ones used in their classic “Dani California.” Peach’s vocals soar, aided by Zach’s backing harmonies, and the organ solo is terrific.

Peach’s considerable singing talents are on full display on the beautiful anthem “Feel the Light.” Her vocals soar (there’s that word again, but it so applies here) with the lush orchestration. It’s Zach’s turn to shine on the hard-driving “Fireball,” on which our ears are treated to more killer guitar work and Chloe’s powerful drums. The title track “Go For Broke” features harmonizing vocals by Zach and Peach, accompanied by a driving beat and gnashing guitars. Synth chords are introduced two-thirds of the way into the track, giving it a bit of a psychedelic feel. This is a great song.

“See Where We Go” is the first single, just released in advance of the album, and it’s definitely a radio-friendly track with a catchy hook, energetic upbeat melody and sizzling harmonic vocals by Zach and Peach. Watch the lyric video here:

The gorgeous ballad “Strength” is another standout track, and my absolute favorite. Musically, the song is very different from the others on the album, with only beautiful piano and violin, and Zach’s heartfelt vocals are captivating.  It’s the type of song that will have many people – me included – tearing up halfway through. The lyrics are so powerfully moving: “And I know it’s so hard when these walls are caving in. But I stare and wonder at this war you’re gonna win. Cause you give me the strength just to make it through the night when we’re with you. I’m in awe of all your wonderful acts of courage that you do. But this time we have is not all that’s left.

With an abrupt jolt, the album closes with the hard rock gem “Tonight.” Blazing machine gun riffs intertwined with Eric’s shimmery guitars, heavy bass and crashing cymbals make this one exhilarating badass tune, proving beyond any doubt that Above The Skyline is a band with formidable talents. With an exceptional EP and full album now under their belts, they have a promising future, and I’m certain we’ll be hearing much more to come from them.

To learn more about Above the Skyline, visit their website. Support them by liking them on Facebook and following on Twitter. Subscribe to their YouTube channel and stream their music on Soundcloud. Go For Broke is available for purchase on iTunes and other platforms offering music for purchase.