E.P. REVIEW: Chutney Chasers by aVIE

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aVIE is an RnB/electronica artist hailing from Houston. He had an itinerant childhood, which is partly the reason for the eclectic range of styles and genres that have influenced his music. He describes his music as Psychedelic/Punk RnB, which is accurate but he also incorporates dubstep, DnB and trap into his musical vision. He regards his influences as The Weeknd, Frank Ocean and Radiohead, amongst others.

This EP, Chutney Chasers, is his debut release and he describes the EP as a “story of a young colored man’s struggle with exotification, identity, addiction, anxiety and role”. It starts with the title track, a languid yet intense concoction of falsetto lead vocals with aVIE’s smooth-as-honey rapping style. Not many artists can claim such versatility as both singer and emcee, and aVIE’s gifts are the equal of similar artists like Frank Ocean. A fine start to the EP.

Tapwater shows another side to his oeuvre, starting out as fairly conventional RnB before developing into a fantastic hybrid of dubstep and DnB, with aVIE delivering his skills as a rapper once more for good measure. This is cutting edge 21st century pop, a futuristic meld of modern styles which aVIE pulls off effortlessly. The Self is another contrast, a hymnal, reflective track with some almost angelic lead vocals counter pointed with distorted spoken word sections.

New Feathers is another excellent track which again shows the influence of Frank Ocean. It’s exquisitely produced RnB with avant garde touches that lift it out of conventionality. Lyrically, it’s an inspiring song about personal transformation: “I’m cleaning the system, creating religion….”. A potential single.

Midnight Oil further consolidates his essential signature sound, an intoxicating melee of skittish rhythms and inventive production touches that somehow remains cohesive. The final Take Care is a beautifully melancholy acoustic ballad, beginning with strummed acoustic guitar and aVIE’s tender lead vocals, containing some troubled lyrics: “I’m drowning in alcohol…”. It builds gradually into a dark epic, reaching a cathartic climax at the end. A beautifully crafted and performed finale to the EP.

Overall, this is an absolute slam dunk of an EP by an artist who is fresh on the scene but whose artistic identity and style is fully formed. With soul searching, intelligent lyrics set to music of eclectic style, emotional depth and restless invention, aVIE has a lot to offer the music world and I expect Chutney Chasers to make a strong impact. I also predict that aVIE is going to be the next big thing in RnB, he’s simply destined for the world stage.

 

VERDICT: 9.2 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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SINGLE REVIEW: Lalka by SPILT

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SPILT are a three-piece psychedelic grunge band hailing from Runcorn, England. They describe their band as ‘old school grass roots’, having formed the group at aged fourteen and having gone through various line-ups. They released their debut single, Facemelter, in 2017, garnering great acclaim and a rapidly growing fanbase. In 2018, they recorded with producer Al Groves (Bring Me The Horizon) at the legendary Motor Museum studio (Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, Jake Bugg).

This coincided with signing to the Manchester based Anvil Records, their first single on this label being CATNIP, released in March. This single, Lalka, maintains their signature sound of combining grunge and punk with psychedelic guitars. They have been compared to Brighton’s The Wytches, whilst I find their distinctive sound a potent meld of the riotous, anarchic punk of Cabbage, with the psychedelic sounds of a band like The Vryll Society.

The song starts with just sparse guitar and drums, Mo Molyneux’s rich, haunting vocals bringing to mind Echo & The Bunnymen’s Ian McCullough. Building with a pulsing kick drum, the track bursts into life with distorted fuzz bass and a cavernous drum sound.

The production does a fine job of capturing the band’s musical energy, which increases as the song progresses, with Cobain-esque howls and a frenetic blow out section towards the end sounding refreshingly raw in an era of ultra-processed pop. Josh Cunningham’s cyclonic drum fills deserve a special mention. Lyrically, it depicts an enigmatic female character “She is all alone, she is in her home, she’s forever alone, I’ll be there to walk this lady home….” runs the anthemic chorus.

Overall, this is a great single from one of Britain’s most exciting and unique upcoming bands, whose popularity is spreading like wildfire. With a tour supporting LA rockers FIDLAR and their own debut UK tour coming up this year, along with festivals like Sound City, SPILT are undoubtedly a band you want to catch in their ascendance. Lalka should become another firm favourite with fans and will make them many more along the way.

VERDICT = 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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