New Song of the Week – THESE WICKED RIVERS: “Floyd”

Three years ago, British rock band These Wicked Rivers blew me away with their phenomenal album II (you can read my review here). Since forming in 2014, the Derby, England-based four-piece have gained a huge following in the UK and beyond with their melodic and riff-heavy blues-infused style of rock’n’roll. Making the music are John Hartwell (lead vocals/guitar), Arran Day (guitar, vocals), Sam Williams (bass) and Dan Southall (drums, vocals). It’s been a while since they’ve put out new music, but thankfully, they returned to the studio to record their second album Eden, which is due for release on May 22nd. In February, they released “Shine On”, the first single from the forthcoming album, and now follow-up with their second single “Floyd“, which I’ve chosen as my New Song of the Week.

These Wicked Rivers get right down to business, as “Floyd” blasts open with a thunderous onslaught of gritty distorted guitars and smashing drumbeats. I love the contrast between the calmer verses, with their bluesy riffs, throbbing bass and softly pummeling drums all creating a menacing vibe that adds to the building sense of tension, and the explosive choruses where all hell breaks loose. It’s fucking amazing rock played the way it should be played! The guys are highly-skilled musicians who play as an impeccably tight unit and deliver the rock goods to perfection. Hartwell has a powerful and vibrant singing voice that’s well-suited to their hard-driving style of blues rock. The way he transitions back and forth from earnest croons to impassioned spine-tingling wails is impressive.

Floyd seems to be a metaphor for the conscience of the town – which appears to be sadly lacking these days. All sorts of bad behavior – drinking, drugs, gambling, stealing and sexual affairs – are shown occurring in the video under the watchful eyes of a mysterious bearded man named Floyd. The band told me that most cannot see Floyd, but those who do/can see him, know why. As soon as they see him he’s gone, yet haunts their conscience. The photos we see him throw onto the ground in the woods at the end are of some of the people he’s observed committing their transgressions.

Floyd sits still on the cold wet night
Shackled to the sins he’s indebted to find
the fake facade printed in their eyes
Is what he heeds of the people playing out their lives
But Floyd knows the truth
He knows the lies
He knows all of the evil that you lock down inside

Floyd don’t come around here no more
Been seen in town once or twice before
The people speak of his judging eyes
But Floyd don’t come around here no more, Floyd don’t come around here
No more

People see Floyd around the town
He moves from street to street blending in with the crowds
But those who stop and catch his marble eyes
Usually know the reason why
‘Cause Floyd knows the truth
He knows the lies
He’s the judge, jury, councillor of freedom and exile

“Floyd” is a wickedly good song, and one of the best yet from this talented band. Based on the high quality of it and “Shine On”, Eden looks to be another stellar album.

Follow These Wicked Rivers:  WebsiteFacebookTwitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / SoundcloudApple Music
Purchase:  iTunesGoogle Play

MALLAVORA – Single Review: “Ego:

Mallavora4
Photos by Aesha Nisar

Bristol, England-based Mallavora are a young hard rock band on the rise. Their exciting, hard-driving sound is strongly influenced by progressive rock, groove and doom metal elements. They’ve released two terrific singles, beginning with “Clockwork Drunk” in 2017 and followed by “Daylight” in 2019, and have been featured on Planet Rock and BBC Introducing. 2019 also brought changes in their lineup with the addition of a new female vocalist, as well as the recording of four new songs that will be featured on their forthcoming Paradise EP, due out later this year. They plan to release all of the songs as singles over the coming months, the first of which is “Ego“, which drops today, March 29.

Mallavora Ego artwork

Mallavora’s new lineup consists of Larry Sobieraj (guitar), Ellis James (bass/vocals), Jessica Ansell (vocals) and Jack Pedersen (drums). About the new single “Ego”, they state that it’s about “autophobia”, generally defined as a phobia of isolation, specifically a dread of being alone or isolated, but oddly also having a morbid fear of being egotistical. The lyrics are about “confronting a tortured soul consumed by fear of itself.”

The song opens strong with a thunderous explosion of gnarly riffs, driving bass and pummeling drumbeats. What’s unusual is that the first lyrics we hear are actually the chorus, passionately sung by the dramatic vocal harmonies of Jessica and Ellis that remind me a bit of Evanescence:

Holds me tight
Her grip’s all I can feel
Seeps through my dreams
I can’t tell what is real
Why can’t you just set me free
I’m begging
Take this voice from me

The music calms down to a melodic interlude in the verses, highlighted by Larry’s gorgeous chiming guitar and Jessica and Ellis’ stunning vocal harmonies. Their vibrant singing voices are somewhat similar in tone, and sound really incredible together.

She’s in my head again
Twisting words and sense she bends
Plunged into my soul
Washed away my pure with cold
Tore out my heart my love my empathy
Left me just with lust and insecurity

Crept away into my mind
Left no place for me to hide
Darkest truths untold
Dreaming of losing control
I can’t hold back what’s beneath the skin
She will break out and torture everything

The music ramps up to a feverish crescendo in the final chorus as the band unleash their arsenal of sonic weaponry. Larry shreds his guitar to the breaking point as he lays down intense reverb-soaked riffs of distortion, while Ellis and Jack nearly blow out the speakers with their punishing bass and smashing drums. And, of course, Jessica and Ellis’ vocal harmonies are spine-tingling.

You did it to yourself
Forgot your mental health 

“Ego” is a spectacular and beautifully-crafted song, and a big step forward for Mallavora. It’s great to see a band’s music and songwriting improve over time, and I’m confident they’ll have a bright and successful future.

Sadly, like so many other artists who’ve seen their tours canceled in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Mallavora have had to postpone their April mini-tour as well. They hope to be able to go on tour later in the year. The artwork for “Ego”, as well as the EP and all upcoming singles was done by Caitlin Shephard.

Connect with Mallavora:  Facebook / Instagram
Stream their music: SpotifyApple Music
Purchase:  Google PlayAmazon

New Song of the Week – COUNCIL: “Savages”

Council Savages

I’ve been following New York alternative rock band COUNCIL for the past four years, and have featured them on this blog a number of times, beginning in 2016 when I reviewed their debut EP Rust to Gold, and most recently in June 2019 with the release of their single “Born Ready”. (You can check out those reviews under “Related” at the bottom of this post.) Through their signature sweeping melodies, bold instrumentation and anthemic choruses, COUNCIL’s dynamic sound has been compared to Imagine Dragons. Their magnificent life-affirming single “Rust to Gold” received worldwide acclaim, including being played at the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, as well as on American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, World Of Dance and Premier League. It’s been streamed more than 7 million times on Spotify, and ended up on my list of 100 Best Songs of 2017.

Council3

COUNCIL is comprised of three strikingly handsome brothers – Patrick, Doug and Andy Reeves. Patrick (bass and lead vocals) and Doug (drums) are twins, and Andy (guitar) is a year younger. Raised on a farm in rural upstate New York, they now split their time between tending the family farm and working on their music in New York City. The guys have just released their latest single “Savages“, which I’ve chosen as my New Song of the Week.

It’s a darkly beautiful and grandiose anthem, highlighted by a complex mix of dramatic industrial synths. The track opens with spooky synths and haunting plucked guitar notes that set an ominous tone. The music then expands with sharp percussive synths, deep bass and thunderous echoed reverb sounds that add a palpable sense of tension and foreboding. The instrumentals are really spectacular, and the finest of any song COUNCIL has done thus far.

The lyrics speak of a couple for whom the love that originally brought them together has turned into hate and acrimony for one another. Patrick fervently laments that they now behave like savages to each other, his vocals soaring to a passionate wail in the chorus.

All the plans that we made were just a lost cause
It’s like we turn a parade into a death march
A dirty angel landed on my shoulder
She said be calm and let the drums take over
I’m just trying to blow these ashes into sparks
We live like savages, savages…oh oh, savages!

Connect with Council:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / ReverbnationApple Music
Purchase it:  iTunesGoogle Play

HOLLOW INTENT – Single Review: “Superhero”

Hollow Intent Superhero

Since forming in 2016, Wilmington, North Carolina-based hard rock band Hollow Intent have been perfecting their explosive, guitar-driven sound and building a growing base of loyal fans. Their hard work finally started to pay off in 2019, when in May they were nominated for the 2019 Carolina Music Award’s Best Rock Group, with front man Will Baker also nominated for Best Rock Male. Then in August, they released their outstanding debut EP Monster to widespread critical acclaim (including from yours truly, which you can read here).

In addition to Baker, who plays guitar and sings vocals, Hollow Intent includes Mark Davis on drums, Shane Noren on bass, and Wesley Seven on guitar. The fearsome foursome are now back with a hard-hitting new single “Superhero“, which dropped March 20. The band states that the song is “about anyone with a ‘disability’ or ‘ailment’ that has the courage to shine through anything! Your weakness is a strength!

The guys deliver another stellar track, maintaining their perfect score in terms of overall song quality. “Superhero” storms through the gates with an explosive barrage of raging guitars, pulse-pounding bass and smashing drumbeats set to a beautiful sweeping melody. The gnarly guitars are punctuated by pummeling jack-hammer riffs that together create a thunderous wall of sound for Baker’s ferocious vocals. As I pointed out in my review of Monster, he has a phenomenal vocal range that sounds beautiful and pleasing when singing clean, and positively feral when he launches into his metalcore screams and growls. His ability to transition from one vocal style to the other and back again is really impressive. It’s a gorgeous hard rock banger.

They also produced their very first video for one of their songs, which was directed by Jaiden Hord Frost, and filmed at The Warehouse Music Hall in Laurinburg, North Carolina. The video shows the band performing the song, interspersed with dramatic scenes of a young couple played by Will’s brother Nathan Baker and Annabelle Sanchez being held captive by a threatening-looking guy played by Tom Fuller. The unfolding drama seems to be a virtual imagining by the young man as he plays a kind of game on his laptop. The young man finally realizes that his eccentricities are nothing to be ashamed of, and summons his inner ‘superhero’ to overcome the bad guy and save their lives. The video ends with the words “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

Connect with Hollow Intent:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream “Monster” on Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / Google Play

THE 86 SPECIAL – Single Review: “Dancing By The Moonlight”

From the ashes of what was the beloved West Sussex alternative rock band Third Time Luckie rises a new band The 86 Special. Calling their sound “modern day pop rock accompanied by 80s synth & stadium rock”, they aim to tickle our earbuds with music that’s retro, yet fresh, and always exciting. The 86 Special is made up of two former Third Time Luckie members Chris Horner (bass & lead vocals) and Carl Swietlik (drums), as well as Matt Dawe (rhythm guitar & vocals), Dom Parris (lead guitar & vocals) and Jake Rae (synth & keys). The band is so new that they don’t have any official photos yet.

They’ve just recorded their first song “Dancing By The Moonlight“, along with a promotional lyric video. It’s upbeat, catchy and fun, with a retro 80s blend of pop, rock and post-punk grooves that call to my mind some of the songs from bands like The Go-Go’s, Huey Lewis & the News and The Cars. The guys serve up a mix of jangly and fuzz-coated guitars, humming bass and snappy drumbeats, creating an exuberant, head-bopping song that’ll have even the worst wallflower heading straight for the dance floor. I especially love Jake’s lively piano keys that are liberally sprinkled throughout the track. Chris’s pleasing vocals are perfect for the song, and nicely accompanied by Matt and Dom’s backing harmonies. Great job all around guys!

The song is scheduled for release on May 18 for streaming and download on all major music platforms.

 

FOLLOW DEEP – Album Review: “Will You Still Love Me…”

Follow Deep album art

Follow Deep is a young indie/alternative rock band from Hull, England who are making quite a name for themselves on the UK music scene with their dynamic, innovative music and high-energy performances. Making the music are Luke Bushby (vocals, guitar & bass), Joe Ingram (bass, keyboards & saxophone), and Jed Pearson (drums, vocals). The talented trio skillfully blend elements of alternative, progressive, psychedelic and grunge rock to create their unique, eclectic sound, with an added bonus of having two vocalists and a saxophonist in the mix.

They released their debut single “Bad Influence” in December 2017, then dropped an EP of the same name in July 2018. They followed up with several new singles in 2019, and in December, released their debut album Will You Still Love Me, which I’m finally getting around to reviewing. The album features ten songs addressing the highs and lows of love, along with the myriad perils of entering into romantic relationships.

Follow Deep

The brilliant opening track “Before The Storm” is a shining example of Follow Deep’s solid songwriting and musicianship. The song has everything I love in a great rock song: a complex melody, a strong, driving bassline, intricate, multi-textured guitars, explosive percussion and superb vocals that span a wide emotional range. The aggressive gnarly riffs contrast nicely with the more subdued jangly guitars and deep bass during the track’s calmer interludes, and along with the dramatic stop-start breaks in the melody, keep the song’s overall tension on a high level. I really like Luke’s voice, which goes from a seductive croon as he sings “You’re a fan of Mozart / I love him too / But it’s now your time to…“, then launches into a chilling full-blown scream with “Sing!” I also love his well-placed shouts of “Woo” and the harmonica riff that comes later in the track.  The lyrics seem to speak to our darker impulses, and possibly someone suffering the effects of PTSD. In an voice electronically altered to sound evil and menacing, we hear the words “Do you know what it is to be a monster? You have no idea.”

The band has released two videos for the song, first a lyric video to coincide with the album release last December, then an official video at the end of February. I’ve included them both, as the film footage in the lyric video nicely complements the lyrics, whereas the official video shows the band performing the song.

Next up is the album’s lead single “Alive“, a terrific rock song about the overpowering feelings that hit us when we fall hard for someone: “Cuz you are the reason that I’m not OK. Cuz you are the reason that I’m in pieces.” The dual contrasting vocals of Luke and Jed are highlights on this track and also the sexy and grungy “Sweet Innocence“, one of my favorites on the album. A torrent of grimy guitars and crashing cymbals are layered over a deep, throbbing bassline, creating a sizzling-hot backdrop for the guys’ sultry mix of falsetto and deeper vocals as they alternately croon and wail: “Cuz I don’t wanna behave anymore. There’s no good in your heart.” “Press Rewind” is a bittersweet song about a couple facing the fact their relationship is over, and needing to move on. The track has a pleasing guitar-driven melody, backed by some gentle, sweeping keyboard synths.

Another standout for me is “Hearts In Hands“, with its outstanding bluesy guitars and the guys’ passionate vocals making for a really stellar track. “Lifeline” is a hard-driving rocker, with fuzz-coated jangly guitars, crunchy bass and lots of crashing cymbals. But the real treat is Joe’s lively saxophone solo in the bridge, injecting a bit of a jazzy flourish to the track. “Steal A Flower” is a dark, grungy song with a strutting bass-driven melody. Luke laments about a relationship that began with promise, but ended badly. “How did it get so dark? You are not my destiny. I know what we could have been.” The intense, gnarly riffs and heavy percussion that erupt in the final chorus are fantastic.

Paradise” is another fine example of how Follow Deep expertly fuses grunge with progressive and psychedelic elements to great effect. The track starts off with a fairly straightforward grunge rock melody, with some fine guitar work setting the tone. At 2:23, the guys inject a blast of grinding psychedelic riffs and spooky swirling synths that last about 28 seconds before calming back down to the previous melody. Luke admonishes: “I’ve told you once, won’t tell you twice. I’m sick of being nice. Why do you think you’re making it to paradise?” With that, the music abruptly launches back into the psychedelic trip, only this time with an onslaught of screeching, heavily distorted guitars that continue to the end.

The guys pull out all the stops on the final two tracks, beginning with the bombastic “Start A War“. Luke’s blazing guitar work is positively mind-blowing, accompanied by Joe’s lush, ominous synths that seem to channel Depeche Mode. Jed attacks his drum kit like a man possessed, adding tremendous power to this glorious track. On the 7:18 minute long “The Same“, they complete the question they began asking in the album title “Will you still love me the same?” This monumental track has more of a prog-rock feel, starting off slowly with a hauntingly beautiful little acoustic guitar riff. Gradually, the music expands into a thunderous soundscape, then Joe enters with a terrific, moody sax solo that’s pure bliss. At 3:50, the music calms down to the gentle acoustic guitar of the beginning, while Luke repeatedly croons the question in a lovely falsetto: “When I’m no longer here no more, will you still love me the same?” The music intensifies again, this time into a gorgeous extended instrumental, highlighted by a stunning guitar solo that continues for the last two minutes before fading out. It’s a magnificent track.

Will You Still Love Me… is a superb album from this very talented and creative trio who make up Follow Deep. I don’t know their ages, but I’m guessing they’re barely in their 20s, and their music has a maturity and complexity that’s quite impressive. With so many elements in the mix, there’s a lot going on here from a musical and compositional standpoint, and I found myself discovering something new with each listen. The guys are great songwriters and musicians, and have much to be proud of with their first full-length album. My lone criticism is that I wish a few more tracks featured Jed’s saxophone, but that’s pretty minor in the overall scheme of things.

Catch Follow Deep at one of these upcoming shows:

Sunday, March 8 – w/Bone Broke Kings, Slackrr & King Boa
West Street Live, Sheffield, UK

Thursday April 16 – w/Dude Trips
The Polar Bear, Kingston upon Hull, UK

As their name implies, follow them deeply on FacebookTwitterInstagram
Stream their music on SpotifySoundcloudApple Music
Purchase on Google PlayAmazon

New Song of the Week – AIRPORT IMPRESSIONS: “Why Are We Here?”

Airport Impressions

I’ve written previously about the tremendous amount of great music being produced these days, and though I make an effort to try and keep up, a lot of it slips beneath my radar. Fortunately, I saw a tweet yesterday by my Sheffield, England Twitter friend John Oxley about the new single “Why Are We Here” by alt-rock band Airport Impressions, and immediately liked it so much that I decided to make it my New Song of the Week. I was also a little embarrassed to discover that Airport Impressions and I already follow each other on Twitter, but I’d somehow neglected to check out their music. My bad, because they’re fantastic!

Hailing from Malta, they’re the first artists from that Mediterranean island nation I’ve featured on this blog. They’re also undeniably one of the most successful acts to emerge from Malta. Drawing from elements of rock, pop and folk, their music is incredibly melodic and beautiful, reminiscent of such bands as The Killers, U2, Kings of Leon, and Mumford and Sons. Like many a band, they’ve undergone changes in lineup since forming in 2008, and now founding member Errol Sammut (guitar, lead vocals) is the only original remaining member. In the past two years, Daniel Genius (bass, backing vocals), Ryan Magro (lead guitar) and and Daryl Curmi (drums, percussion) have all joined the band to replace the former members who left.

Airport Impressions 2

Under their previous lineup, Airport Impressions released two outstanding albums, Minutes of a Lifetime in 2010 and Mariette in 2014. They’re both overflowing with gorgeous songs, and I strongly urge my readers to check them out on one of the music streaming platforms listed at the end of this post. Since the new members came on board, the band has released a number of terrific singles, the latest of which is “Why Are We Here?”, which dropped February 28.

The song has a darker feel than most of their music, with ominous industrial synths and a deep, throbbing bass line forming a dramatic foundation for the phenomenal guitar work and smashing drums. The piano and moody organ keyboards add texture and tension to the track, and I love the gnarly guitar solo in the bridge. Sammut’s vocals are fantastic, starting off with a vulnerable croon that sounds a bit like Bono, then erupting into impassioned wails in the chorus, backed by haunting echoed vocals. It’s a magnificent track.

The lyrics could be open to a rather broad interpretation, but to me they seem to speak to the eternal question of the reason for man’s existence – namely, what is the meaning of life, and what is our purpose on this earth? The lines “Can you hear my cries in the pouring rain? Can you walk the walk? Can you hear my call? Can you see me crawl?” are a plea to be noticed, to feel significant, to feel that our existence is worthwhile, especially to those around us.

To learn more about Airport Impressions, check out their Website

Connect with them on FacebookTwitterInstagram
Stream their music:  SpotifySoundcloudApple MusicYouTube
Purchase:  Google PlayAmazon

CuriousHour – Single Review: “She Lies”

Curious Hour She Lies cover

Two years ago, I was blown away when I first heard the music of London alternative blues rock band CuriousHour. In my review of their superb debut EP Explore, I wrote “If you like soulful, blues-soaked rock accompanied by raw, passionate female vocals, then you should be listening to the music of UK band CuriousHour.” It’s been far too long since they’ve put out new music, but I’m happy to report that they’re back with a great new single “She Lies“, which officially drops February 27th. And my recommendation still stands.

Formed in 2014, CuriousHour consists of vocalist Emily Grazebrook, guitarist Andy Grazebrook, bassist Aaron “Bison” Lafayette, and drummer Louis Ricard (who recently replaced Wal Srankiewicz, who played drums on Explore and “She Lies”. On the strengths of their powerful, unique sound and dynamic live shows, they’ve built quite a following in and around London and southern UK.

“She Lies” is a dark and moody track – a “murder ballad” as described by band guitarist Andy. The intense fuzz-covered jangly guitars and deep, muddy grooves are fantastic, with an almost watery quality that quite effectively complements the grim narrative laid out by the lyrics, which were written by Emily. Her raw, soulful vocals are incredibly powerful in expressing the pain and terror of her dire circumstances – that her man is going to drown her to punish her for things she’s done. The words “she lies” can be interpreted to have two meanings: that she’s a liar, and that she now lies at the bottom of the river. Some pretty heavy stuff here.

Father forgive me my sins
He promised me many things
And when he got a hold have mercy on my soul
And when I told him no
He took me down to the river
He held me way down low
Held me way down low on the riverbed 

She lies
(I never lied)
Have mercy on my head

And here on my river bed
Way down here on my river bed
My sins washed away he said

The beautifully filmed but rather disturbing video shows scenes of Emily walking down to a river and touching the water, as a mother desperately clinging to a young boy who would appear to be her son (played by her actual son), knowing it will be the last time she’ll see him, and her lying dead in the river. Have a look and listen:

Catch CuriousHour at one of these upcoming shows:

Friday, Apr 17 – The Birds Nest, London
Friday, May 08 – The Birds Nest, London

Connect with CuriousHour:  FacebookTwitterInstagram
Stream their music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloud
Purchase:  BandcampGoogle PlayAmazon

THE MILLION REASONS – EP Review: “If Not for the Fire”

The Million Reasons If Not For the Fire

One of my favorite indie rock bands is Chicago-based The Million Reasons. I became a fan of theirs the instant I heard their magnificent song “Dizzy” in the summer of 2018 (I love it so much it ended up at #69 on my 100 Best Songs of the 2010s list). I’ve closely followed this talented group of guys ever since, and have featured them a number of times on this blog. (You can read my previous reviews by clicking on the links under “Related” at the bottom of this page.) Having five members, including two guitarists, their sound is dynamic, heavy and melodic, and consistently delivered with killer riffs, tight rhythms and powerful vocals. 

I was sad to learn their vocalist Scott Nadeau left the band last August but, fortunately, they quickly found a phenomenal replacement in Taylor Brennan, a close friend of band drummer Colin Dill. Brennan is also vocalist for Chicago alt-rock band Polarizer (they’re pretty terrific too, so do check out their music). In addition to Brennan and Dill, the other band members include guitarists Mike Nichols and Ken Ugel, and bassist Jason Cillo. Brennan brought not only his vocal talents, but also his great songwriting skills and years of experience, which have expanded The Million Reasons’ musical horizons quite nicely. Whereas their music has primarily been classic rock/rock’n’roll oriented, some of their new songs venture more into progressive rock territory. They’ve also employed additional instrumentation, including keyboards and cello, into some tracks, giving them a fuller and richer sound.

With that in mind, the band set to writing and composing a huge array of songs, four of which they’ve selected for their new EP If Not for the Fire, which dropped February 21st. The songs are rather dark, with brutally honest lyrics that the band describes as “a study of separation and self-discovery.” The EP was beautifully produced by band guitarist Ken Ugel, along with Nick Stetina and Noam Wallenberg, and flawlessly mixed and mastered by Stetina. The other band guitarist Mike Nichols designed the artwork.

They kick things off with the title track “If Not for the Fire”, a bombastic, high-energy rocker that clearly shows the band hasn’t lost their stride. The song opens with a brief flurry of fuzzy guitars and Dill’s power drums, then Cillo lays down a funky little bass solo before everything erupts into a barrage of thunderous musical mayhem, and we’re off to the races. The guys unleash their inner beasts, setting the airwaves aflame with fiery riffs, throbbing bass and explosive drumbeats. Brennan quickly dispels any doubts I may have held regarding the issue of a new vocalist, blowing me away with his incredible vocals. He literally raises goosebumps as he fervently wails the lyrics that speak of his need for an intense, almost obsessive kind of love that thrills and excites: “I came for the curse of / I came for the kiss of / A love divine that paralyzes / What did you come for / If not for the fire to light you up this way.”

The fantastic video, filmed and directed by Philip Goode, shows Brennan seated at a table, struggling to write (something I can identify with as a music blogger), juxtaposed with scenes of the band performing the song and working their magic with their respective instruments. Their energy and charisma are strongly evident.

“Pretty Ones” is a brilliant track, with a complex melodic structure and intricate, yet powerful  instrumentation that give it a monumental prog-rock feel. The dual guitars of Nichols and Ugel are really spectacular here. The lyrics explore the restlessness that exists in some of us – the internal struggle between putting down roots in one place or with one person vs. the desire for eternal freedom and believing the grass is greener somewhere else or with someone else, but also fearing that perhaps we’re just running away from ourselves: “Ever after chasing down the pretty ones / Right back to the place where I am running from / In motion, stuck in motion / I fear it’s just my nature.

The guys slow things down on “No North Star”, a gorgeous but melancholy ballad about a man at the end of his rope, ready to give up all vestiges of hope. The song starts off with a mournful cello and beautiful acoustic guitar, as Brennan forlornly laments about mistakes he’s made: “Four on the floor / As the shower head pours heat on me / Praying to the god of sorry / I’m sure she has questions for me.” Gradually, a lovely piano enters along with more guitar, drums and bass, all of which grow more expansive as the song progresses until reaching a dramatic crescendo at the end, at which point Brennan passionately implores: “Stare in the sunken-in eyes of a ghost of a shell of a half of a half of a man / Saying what good can I be if I couldn’t be better for you / I couldn’t lie when you asked me to lie / But I’ll die if you ask me tonight / I’m going to die anyway / I might as well do it for you.” Though I love all four tracks, “No North Star” is my favorite.

“All You Can Afford” is a dark and heavy kiss-off to a lover who’s pushed the relationship beyond the breaking point: “I’m taking the keys to my heart and your car / I’ll leave you behind / Hoping you’ll find all that you can’t afford / My love, anymore.” The guys deliver blistering riffs and a torrent of hard-driving grooves during the first two-thirds of the track while Brennan sings the lyrics. The music then transitions to an almost cinematic instrumental for the outro, finally ending with a harsh, increasingly loud static-like sound in the final 30 seconds that seems to symbolize a rather violent end – of the relationship perhaps?

If Not for the Fire is a wonderful little fireball of an EP (sorry for the bad pun, but hey, it perfectly describes the work) that packs quite a major punch in it’s 16-minute run time. I love The Million Reasons, and am thrilled to see them continue to grow and evolve through time and personnel changes, something not all bands are able to successfully navigate. Drummer Colin Dill told me they’ve written about 20 new songs, and I cannot wait to hear them!

Connect with The Million Reasons:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud / YouTube
Purchase:  Bandcamp / iTunes / Amazon

AMONGST LIARS – Single Review: “Over and Over”

Amongst Liars Over & Over

I’ve stated it numerous times on this blog, but it bears repeating yet again that some of the best rock music being made today is coming from the UK. Almost on a weekly basis, I come across another band or two making a name for themselves in a very crowded field, and today I have the pleasure of introducing an exciting new band with a terrific name – Amongst Liars. They recently released their spectacular debut single “Over and Over“, which I loved at first listen and must share with my readers.

Based in the Brighton/Eastbourne area along the southern English coast, Amongst Liars was formed in September 2019 from the ashes of two bands – Saint Apache and Katalina Kicks. Both were successful bands in their own right, and actually met in 2016 when they shared the same bill at a show in Manchester. After the vocalist of Saint Apache left in April 2019, and Katalina Kicks broke apart a few months later when one of its members decided to leave the UK, KK vocalist Ian George joined the three remaining members of Saint Apache to form Amongst Liars. In addition to Ian, who also plays guitar, the other band members include Leo Burdett (guitar, backing vocals), Ross Towner (bass, backing vocals) and Adam Oarton (drums). Given they’re all accomplished musicians, they hit the ground running and wasted no time writing and recording new music.

Amongst Liars2

Drawing influences from some of their favorite bands like Rage Against The Machine, Every Time I Die, Buckcherry, Guns N’ Roses, Crass, Heavens Basement, Cancer Bats, and Audioslave, they play an aggressive and melodic style of hard rock. “Over and Over” is a rampaging monster of a track. With Ross’s intense buzzing bass line serving as a powerful driving force, Leo and Ian serve up killer riffs of gnarly guitars while Adam pummels his drum kit like a man hellbent on destruction. The guys are really impressive musicians, and Ian is a vocal beast, practically spitting the lyrics as he furiously rails; “We don’t need to beg no more. We don’t need to beg. Make time for this! Yeah, yeah, yeah – over and over we run!”

The lyrics are somewhat ambiguous, but seem to be a bitter indictment against the numbing mind-control of technology and societal pressures to conform and be ‘productive’. The artwork for the single shows a man on a treadmill, surrounded by naked men lying facedown, their backs open to reveal inner machinery, along with a scattering of wheels that appear to have fallen off a cog.

One line for the memory
One love for the soul
I don’t care for the harmony
I don’t write for the show

One love for this jealousy
I feel bad for you son
No time for your remedy
So we dance till it’s done

We don’t need to beg no more

Walk on with an energy
Hold out for the pain
No time for the feeling
Inside of the brain

One time for this heresy
In spite of the sun
One life for the strangers
They can walk, we shall run

We don’t need to beg no more
We don’t need to beg
Make time for this
Yeah, yeah, yeah – over and over we run

The fantastic video shows the band facing off what appears to be their alter ego selves as they perform the song, and really showcases their intense energy and strong musicianship. “Over and Over” is a brilliant song, and a triumphant debut for Amongst Liars. I cannot wait to hear more from this phenomenal band.

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