E.P. REVIEW: Living In A World by Machine Modified


Machine Modified are a three piece alternative hard rock/metal band hailing from Alberta, Calgary in Canada. They consist of vocalist/guitarist Matt M. Mattie, bassist Steve Dean and drummer/backing vocalist Jake Webb. They cite their influences as Nirvana, Breaking Benjamin, Silverchair and Bush amongst others. I would describe their sound as mixing 90’s style grunge rock with more metal elements, always with a focus on the song overall.

This six track EP Living In A World is their debut release and a great introduction to their music. Opening track Kingdom Under Fire gets this off to a blistering start, one of the heavier, more metal tracks on the EP. After a powerful intro, the music is propelled forward by a diamond cutter metal riff which turns into pure power chords guaranteed to get your head banging.

Matt M. Mattie has the right voice for this kind of material, somewhere between Kurt Cobain and Josh Homme from Queens of The Stone Age. As with any self respecting metal track, there is a lengthy scream towards the end which adds to the impact. I Am Gone maintains the same metal elements but has more focus on the vocal melody plus Jake Webb’s aggressive and exciting drumming is also more to the fore.

Earthquake is a great highlight of the EP with apocalyptic, other worldly lyrics and a powerful chorus: “This earthquake, this volcano, this planet Earth world as they know…”. It is particularly strong when backed up by harmonies, reminiscent of how Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl combined for Nirvana. This track also brought to mind the similarly epic Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden, more in terms of vibe than musical similarity.

Shook The Pain is a distinct contrast and a fine track, the lightest track in terms of sound. It features acoustic guitar and showing their ability to craft well structured songs. It’s about dealing with suffering, captured by the melodic memorable chorus which effectively switches to their heavier sound: “I shook the pain, and I took the blame and I watched as it faded all away….”. A nice showcase for Mattie’s expressive vocals and the concise solo works well.
She’s My again balances metal and rock structure to great effect, the rolling guitar chords slightly reminiscent of Blew from Nirvana’s first album Bleach. As the title implies, it’s about a girl, though this is lyrically probably the simplest here. Last but not least is the title track, which is much more profound. Starting out with a heavy vocal sample, the lyrics explore the overall effects of religion and intolerance in society: “Living in a world, hate is the way…we tend to tell lies, what the devil taught them to say…”. It ends with a haunting string outro to close an excellent EP.

Overall, this is a very impressive debut release from a band who have clearly honed their craft and forged their own style through the combination of various metal and rock influences.  There’s room for a higher quality of production that might help them commercially, but there’s no arguing with the quality of the songs. It’s great to know that good rock music is still being made and I look forward to hearing their first full album.

Alex Faulkner


VERDICT: 8.4 out of 10


EP REVIEW: Rome Will Burn

ROME https://www.reverbnation.com/romewillburn/songs

Rome Will Burn are an electronic/pop duo hailing from Los Angeles. They consist of vocalist/songwriter Alyssa Suede and DJ/violinist Manifesto. Alyssa is the sister of Beck, and their father David Campbell acts as producer/arranger on this EP. After leaving drama school to pursue music, Alyssa became a guitarist and achieved success as a singer/songwriter, appearing at SXSW and Sundance as well as winning awards for her videos to Falling From Mars and Hollow (3D).

Manifesto started out in the classical world, studying violin as a child and gaining international renown performing to audiences around the world. He decided on a different path eventually, becoming a trance/progressive DJ whilst incorporating the electric violin. After becoming popular on the underground scene, he became a producer and collaborated with Seal, Benny Benassi and Paul Van Dyk amongst many others.

They formed in 2013 and this EP is their debut release. First track Chameleon is a strong example of their musical style. It’s a mid paced pop/electronica track with Manifesto’s Gypsy violin playing incorporated throughout to give it a unique sonic flavour. This is combined with synths and percussion, handclaps providing a four to the floor pulse which becomes a kick drum on the second verse.

Alyssa has a powerful, distinctive voice that is slightly reminiscent of Sia and grabs you immediately. The song is about a two faced character who she finds difficult to resist nonetheless: “Guess I like playing with danger, till you go and change your colours again…”.

The verse bursts into an anthemic chorus that lodges in the memory instantly: “You spin me round and I don’t know where to go…”. It works excellently as a commercial pop track for radio and would also go down well in the clubs, as I’m sure was intended.

These Three Words is another finely crafted track that uses a similar quiet verse/big chorus structure, though this is more mellow and romantic. It features another superb vocal performance from Alyssa, who shows her large vocal range on the sky-scraping chorus. The lyrical hook is simple effective “I love you, I do…you came into my life as soft as a butterfly…”. It’s such a strong chorus that it is another potential single.

Waging Romance starts out in a way similar to Chameleon, with a haunting violin melody interweaving with Alyssa’s vocal. Then the pulsing beat develops into a full dance groove on yet another memorable chorus, which gives the track a big lift. After the second chorus there is a violin solo which provides an unexpected contrast and works well. Rome Will Burn have a real gift for consistently great pop hooks and this is another one.

Live By The Beat continues the high quality, and this electro-dance/pop track seems particularly suited to the dancefloor with a pounding kick drum. This is the kind of song Lady Gaga would kill for, and I’d be surprised if these songs aren’t on their debut album, as they are simply too good for just an EP.

Body Language is the most musically diverse track here, starting out electro dance with a see-saw synth riff that draws you in, then morphing into a funk guitar section with Alyssa laying down an unpredictable but highly effective vocal melody. Another violin section combined with vocoder and spoken word elements thrown into the mix further add to the heady brew, all held together by the addictive “Work that body language…” chorus hook. This one is a lot to take in on first listen, but acts as a real grower.

Overall, this is a fantastic debut release from a pop/dance duo who have carefully cultivated and developed their sound in the studio and are already the ‘finished article’. The combination of Alyssa Suede’s voice and Manifesto’s Gypsy/classical influence makes for a unique sound that will help them stand apart from the crowd. Several of these tracks would make excellent singles, and Alyssa being Beck’s sister will not hurt in terms of publicity! No nepotism is necessary though, Rome Will Burn stand out as a musical force to be reckoned with and you’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the future.


Alex Faulkner


VERDICT: 9.1 out of 10

EP REVIEW: Killing Dinosaurs by Bad Mary

badmary1 https://badmary.bandcamp.com/album/killing-dinosaurs-ep


Bad Mary are a four-piece punk rock band hailing from Long Island, New York. Starting out as a covers band, they changed their name from Madame X in 2012 and Bad Mary was born. Their music is particularly inspired by the NYC punk movement of the late 1970’s and I would describe their music as a cross between bands like Blondie and The Ramones, combined with the more modern punk rock sound of bands like Paramore and Green Day.

Their debut album Better Days was a big success, with two tracks being used to soundtrack the NBA Finals. This EP, Killing Dinosaurs, consists of six tracks and is a great representation of their sound. They are led by the distinctive, throaty vocals of Amanda Mac, who delivers some blistering performances across the EP.

Opening track Soapbox kicks things off with a bang, David Henderson’s razor edged guitars sounding raw yet still slick, backed by Bill Mac’s thunderous drumming. Amanda has no problems imposing herself over this wall of sound, her vocals full of Debbie Harry-esque NYC attitude. It builds to a super catchy chorus and makes perfect sense as the lead track.

Want What I Want and Hanging Around are both Ramones-rapid punk rock bursting with killer guitar riffs and huge sky scraping choruses. The former is about Amanda’s frustration of trying to meet other people’s expectations of her and the modern problem of online abuse that every band receives to some extent: “Wear some make up, too much make up, make your mind up, tell me more, it’s too short, it’s too long, you look good, you’re a whore….”.

Next To You is a cracking punk rock version of a Police song that I actually prefer to the original, while Sucks To Be You is another sassy slice of guttural rock n’ roll that takes lyrical swipes at an ex-lover. The closing One More Song is an honest admission about trying to find creative inspiration, and a fine way to finish.

Overall, this is a highly entertaining and enjoyable EP from a band who are clearly already going places and in Amanda Mac have a charismatic front woman who could be a Debbie Harry for this generation. They have the songs to back up the attitude, and this EP will only enhance their reputation and fanbase further.


Alex Faulkner

VERDICT: 8.4 out of 10

The Bright Wild EP by The Bright Wild

The Bright Wild digi cover http://thebrightwild.com/

The Bright Wild are an indie rock/alternative group that consists of a creative collaboration between lead vocalist Roy Shakked and fellow multi instrumentalist Tal Yardeni. After a chance meeting in 2014 they became friends, and they didn’t let living on different continents stop a musical relationship developing.

This five track eponymous EP was recorded in a very modern way; the two members bounced ideas and sound files over the internet, so the songs were not only co-written but co-produced. They brought in some musical cohorts to fill out the music: Lyle Workman (Beck, Sting), Blair Sinta on drums (Damien Rice) and Tim Lefebvre on bass (Tedeschi Trucks Band).

Opening track Supersonic is a perfect example of their unique sound. Starting with lush, atmospheric strings, it progresses into an epic sounding song that blends 80’s pop/rock like Prefab Sprout and Tears For Fears with the ambient, experimental soundscapes of Sigor Ros. Shakked has a perfect voice for the material, powerful yet ethereal worth effective use of falsetto. The lyrics are spiritual and seemingly stream of consciousness: “Supersonic beat in my lifeline… Technicolor dreams in my heart….Awake the dreamer…”

Run With Me is a contrast, set at a languid pace and starting with strummed acoustic guitar. It builds gradually, with an anthemic Coldplay-style chorus: “Run with me, run far away to places we dream of…”. After the third chorus the music ascends to a fireworks-in- the-sky climax of exultant strings. Superb.

Calling You is just as epic but more melancholy in tone, with some nice vocoder style effects on the vocals. It delivers another killer chorus, and any of these first three songs could be singles, if rather lengthy ones. Strange World is more upbeat and a little rockier, and actually brought to mind ELO’s classic Mr. Blue Sky. A fun song.

Final track Hello Again returns to the mid-paced epic style that is their signature sound. It features a particularly fine vocal performance from Roy Shakked, although they are consistently stellar throughout. It’s another romantic lighters in the air moment, and a fine finale.

Overall, this is an exceptionally well written, performed and produced EP. If you didn’t know the back story you would presume it was produced in a million dollar studio, in the usual way. If you quite like Coldplay, but ultimately find their music a little bland, The Bright Wild are guaranteed to light up your world.


Alex Faulkner


Verdict: 9 out of 10


E.P. REVIEW: Till The Grave by Flyer


Flyer is a hip hop/rap artist residing in Orlando, Florida. This EP consists of five hip hop tracks that average around the four minute mark. His beats are languid and laid back which allows for clarity in his delivery and a smooth flow. He has his own unique style and an excellent command of rhyme and rhythm, showing real dexterity lyrical across the course of the EP.

First track Scott Jordan is a good example of his sound, opening with the track’s refrain “It’s been like a whole week, that I couldn’t get to sleep, this bitch is blowin’ up my phone…”. As that lyric suggests, Flyer is not overly concerned with being political correct, but this is more often humorous rather than offensive: “You can tell her bring her momma too….”.

Behind the rapping there is a finely constructed hip hop track, the beat punchy with intricate hi hats combining with subtle bass and atmospheric synths. Another nice production touch is Flyer layering his vocals on certain lines an octave lower, which works very effectively. An excellent start to the EP.

Second track Dancing Alone starts with a catchy low end synth riff and develops into a laid back 50 Cent style club track. Lyrically, it’s even more sexually explicit than the first track, which will please those who enjoy this kind of ‘bad boy’ hip hop. Musically, it’s a classy track which would set the right kind of sensual mood on the dancefloor.

Third track Fly is more serious; the memorable, poignant chorus is the first thing we hear: “All I got are these broken dreams, all I got are these broken things…Mama told me ‘Don’t fly’, Mama told me ‘Don’t try’….”. The emotional power of the lyrics brought to mind Eminem’s Cleaning Out My Closet and there is something similar in the sharp attacking rapping style he uses. The backing music matches the quality of the words, with backwards drums and all manner of vocal effects creating a nightmarish but thrilling soundscape.

Track four Presidential Suite is superb, beginning with swirling strings and breaking into a stately groove, ganged up with a tasty bass line and subtle brass. The track imagines becoming so famous that assassination becomes a possibility: “Make it big, they try to take you out like Kennedy… Tell my enemies that they better aim well…”. This track features some of his finest rapping, with a great chorus and some killer one-liners: “Baby when I spit, my residue is butane….”. Would make a perfect single.

Last track 4th Wall is a fine finale, with a meaty beat and EDM style synths that give it a modern edge, along with its dirty bass sound. It contains another addictive chorus hook that you soon find yourself singing along with: “Ain’t nobody ever gonna let you in, gonna have to break the walls down…”.

Overall, this is a very strong EP that shows Flyer can consistently cut it as a hip hop artist of high quality, and can be the rival of anyone out there. With Eminem past his best, and 50 Cent filing for bankruptcy, maybe it’s time for a new bad boy in town.


Alex Faulkner


Verdict: 8.5 out of 10


E.P. REVIEW: Hearticulate by J.P. Edwards

lwOOkFVXYZ_dn4349I4SJEoSGrWltcSd2ZPa7_8oM9k https://www.facebook.com/jpedwardsmusic

J.P. Edwards is a singer/songwriter originally hailing from Texarkana, Texas. Aided by the experiences of an itinerant childhood, he started singing and writing music at an early age. His music is essentially acoustic pop, though there are elements of folk, blues and jazz present also. He has the intimate style of singers like Ed Sheeran and John Mayer, with the versatile voice of Justin Timberlake.

This EP consisting of eight tracks that are a perfect showcase for his musical abilities. Opening song Destinations, about the journey of a relationship, is just vocals and picked acoustic guitar. He has a voice suited to the material and the song’s lilting vocal melody soon latches in the memory.

Second song Drop Everything is a male/female duet and strummed rather than picked. The song’s quality is instantly apparent, a short verse leading to a gorgeous chorus. The blend of their vocal harmonies is exquisite, especially on the middle eight and the lyrics are touching without being trite. An obvious choice as the track to take to radio, and could well be the one that breaks him into the big time.

Other highlights of the EP for me were the sophisticated, jazzy Grave, the epic pop of Stargazing and last track World Tour, which is a sweet song that uses the idea of musical stardom as a backdrop to a heartfelt love ballad that cleverly sidesteps cliché.

Overall, this a very assured and accomplished EP by a songwriter who sounds at the top of his game. There are several potential singles to choose from, and with Drop Everything he has a surefire hit on his hands. Record companies are no doubt searching avidly for the new Ed Sheeran, and I think J.P. Edwards may just be the man.


Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.7 out of 10

E.P. REVIEW: Known To Wander by Known To Wander

11193383_1559440717652938_1445625717098267856_nKnown To Wander are a three-piece alternative rock/pop band hailing from Southern Wisconsin. Their music incorporates many influences from rock, and they sometimes have a bluesy Black Keys lilt to their music, but essentially they make melodic, accessible and commercial pop/rock. This five track EP is an excellent showcase for their sound, which is surprisingly big for a three piece.

You can hear the influence of Death Cab For Cutie in the dreamy lead guitar sound and melodic keyboards on superb opener Fade Out. The rockier element comes from Andy Stone’s intricate yet forceful drumming, while Peter Grau’s expressive, distinctive vocals and easy-on-the-ear tone brings a poppier side to the sound, which is no bad thing.

Only I Should Know starts out sounding like a thousand alt. rock bands, before developing into another finely crafted pop/rock with some effective backing harmonies. I enjoyed the instrumental section after the second chorus, which hints at future musical ambitions. Third track Watch The Stars is more mellow, and has a melancholy feel both musically and lyrically, with Grau reflecting on childhood dreams: “On the rooftop I can hear the promises I made….”. The simple hook is perhaps the most instant here, and shows this band can write good slower paced songs.

Track four Habit carries on their ability to write consistently infectious songs that you soon find yourself humming and also features a veritable whirlwind of drumming from Andy Stone. The way they alternate between half time and full time towards the end is classy, and that kind of versatility bodes well for the future. The closing Autumn is a more low-key song to close the EP, with tumbling toms toms and another excellent vocal performance from Grau, whose voice lends itself well to slower material. The tracks build gradually, and the brief section in 6/8 was a nice touch.

Overall, this is a very impressive debut EP from a band who have instantly found their own niche musically, and already sound fully developed as a band. They have a fine knack for writing strong pop songs, and shouldn’t have any hangs up about being too ‘pop’ or commercial. I could see them becoming like R.E.M. – they managed to be commercially successful whilst retaining their alt. rock credibility. I look forward to hearing a whole album in the future.


Alex Faulkner


Verdict: 8.6 out of 10