Tag Archives: pop rock

With Regards From Home: The Debut Album to Send FES to the Stratosphere?

Guitar-pop/pop-rock/math-rock band FES have been around a few years now. They’ve been putting in a hell of a lot of hours into touring and plugging away and EPs. However the band are finally releasing their debut album tomorrow, and I could not be more stoked. We saw these guys in Notts last year (link to the review here) and loved them, so to have the chance to get a sneak peak at this is an honour. Without further ado, here is our thoughts on With Regards From Home.

Starting off as on FES could, ‘Chew’ opens on some fantastic guitar playing and a huge chord before it drops down a bit for the vocals. It’s pop-punk math-rock blended perfectly together and is massively catchy. The dynamics are fun, it dropping down and building up multiple times throughout. There’s also a fantastic harmony on the vocal coming through the build-up around 2-minutes in, adding even more punch and epicness to the sound. I lost track a little of the structure a little but it doesn’t matter at all, this was phenomenal. The lyrics resonated pretty strongly with me too, as they would probably anyone at one time or another. This was awesome and easily makes the playlist!

‘Clarinet’ opens on another fantastically technical guitar riff, built on perfectly by the bass and drums. The vocals are again massively catchy, having a real old-Hayley-Williams twang to them. It’s hard not to constantly gush over the instrumentation, though. This band is three people at the very top of their craft and they are AMAZING songwriters. They manage to fit all their weirdness and craziness together somehow perfectly. This may sound insane, but I’d put the front-woman up there with the likes of Tosin Abasi and Santana in terms of technical guitar ability, she really is that good. More great stuff!

‘Sun Visor’ launches straight into the verse, vocals and a quirky riff ringing through. It somehow sounds even better when the bass takes over for the riff. The guitar holds a huge chord, letting it ring and distort and add another huge layer to the track. Then it suddenly shifts gears heading into the chorus, turning almost uplifting. It fits in with the mood of the trach though and was a smooth transition. The track is another awesome one, catchy and bouncy and a lot of fun!

I am coming to realise that I maybe cannot review this album in the same way as I review most others. Otherwise it’ll just be me repeatedly saying ‘the instrumentation is incredible’ and ‘the vocals are great’ and ‘I love the lyrics’. While with some bands I would complain that this would make the album too boring and repetitive, I could listen to this style all day. FES manage to constantly keep it interesting and keep me on my toes. So instead, I feel like I just need to bring to attention the highlights and bits that I loved, as well as anything I feel less positive towards.

‘So So’ has some of the best lyrics I have heard in a very long time. The melancholy, stripped back instrumentation for it fits the theme perfectly, too. The drop-outs and dynamics in ‘Bruises’ were a lot of fun and had me genuinely questioning if my laptop was still working at times. Also, slower track ‘Black Eye’ was a nice change of pace at first after a rather upbeat first half of an album. And the proggy, slower outro was awesome.

‘Seethrough’ is a massive highlight of the album for me. The guitaring reminds me of early Newton Faulkner. The whole track just being that and vocals, alongside some ambient sounds to accompany, was really beautiful. I’m so glad it didn’t drop into the rest of the band. I was hoping for something much different to the rest of the album and this was exactly that. The lyrics are impactful and fantastic and it all pieces together perfectly. Playlisted!

My only very minor gripe with this album is that after the aforementioned track it does go back to the similar formula again. I know I had mentioned before that I could listen to this style all day and I most certainly can. But that isn’t to say it will hold my full attention forever. This is a fantastic album that I would recommend to absolutely anyone, but it was a hard one to sit down and review. I get distracted easily and no matter how fantastic an album is, if it is a lot of similarly great songs over and over, I find my mind wandering.

And yes, I know how hard it is to create different sounds with just three people in a sub-genre like this, so I don’t even have a solution. I guess I’m basically just saying ‘goddamn you guys for being so good at what you do!’. Maybe it’s just jealousy. Either way, the final three tracks are also stellar and ‘Washout’ is a fantastic way to close an album!

Overall: what more can I say that I haven’t already? It is an absolute masterclass in how to play the core rock instruments (including vocals). Also, the band have the incredible ability to portray such emotion, not just through the deeply person lyrics but through their delivery and the playing as well. It feels like this band could do absolutely any genre they wanted, they simply play this style as they enjoy it. One of the strongest debut albums I’ve heard in decades. And, before my professional jealousy creeps back in, I’m going to give this…

The Score: 9/10

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Dohny Jep: ‘we’re heavy pop music with riffs!

Dohny Jep are a self pop-rock band who have recently hit the UK underground scene with force. Having released a whopping 4 EPs throughout this year, the band have been working hard. (We reviewed their latest one, by the way, which you can check out here). From the sounds of things they will continue to work hard next year too! We got the chance to sit down with them after their final EP for a quick interview. Check it out below!

So obviously your latest EP has just come out, how’s that gone down?

Yeah, it’s gone very well. We’re very happy with peoples responses to it! Much like the previous three we’ve put out this year we’ve slowly built a following and they seem to really dig most of the stuff we’ve put out. This one’s a little heavier than the last ones we’ve done. A lot of people have commented on that in a nice way. They’ve seen the progression throughout the year of how we’ve developed. And we did that deliberately, we chose for this one to be heavier than the other three. Sort of ease people into it.

With all four EPs coming out in one year, did you guys write it all beforehand?

We wrote a chunk all at the same time really. It was probably late last year.

It was sort of ongoing over a long period of time.

Yeah, late last year I reckon is when I remember we’d demoed an absolute bunch.

And then we kinda played around with orders and stuff. We were still re-writing stuff. So like the first EP was coming out and while we had the fourth EP technically written we were tweaking it as we were going. The main chunk of it was already done, we were just doing the details as we went along. Working to deadlines and stuff. The last one – we weren’t anywhere close to missing the deadline, but we had definitely done a lot more tweaks to some songs. ‘Floor Like Lava’ is two songs that we stuck together so we were still working all the details out.

I assume you planned it all out release-wise before it all, then?

Sort of. We had a kind of idea. I think we were originally put out a bunch of singles. Then the idea became to do them as EPs instead of standalone singles. Then the whole kinda floral thing that tied into each other and then our album, which is out on January 29th, has all four of those flowers in the same vase and we have all the 16 tracks as one collective release. That sort of idea kinda came in halfway through the year, something like that. But yeah, at the beginning of the year we were thinking let’s just release a shit load of singles and be in people’s faces the entire time so they get sick of us or love us, maybe both! But yeah, the full EP thing was decided just before we kicked it off really.

Also, it wasn’t not our decision but it was someone else’s suggestion to us. We’ve been getting advise from a bunch people and he’s sort of unofficially managing us at this point. Not that we don’t have anything to manage but we’re doing everything ourselves so far so he’s more of an advisory roll. He was like ‘well if you’re going to put out 12 singles at one a month, you could put it out as four EPs throughout the year and make a big deal out of it’. I think it was us who decided to jump it up from 12 to 16 because we had so many songs.

Yeah, we just couldn’t really decide which ones we wanted to put out. We’re a big fan of our own stuff! Which is probably a good thing, to love your material instead of thinking ‘eh, it’s alright’. So you kinda need to be your biggest fan! So we thought fuck it, let’s up 16 out and make it as unrealistic as possible to achieve!

So would you consider the same format of EPs leading up to an album again?

We don’t really know yet. It’s been a very expensive year!

Yeah, the next one definitely won’t be like that!

We’re still in talks about exactly how we’re going to do next year, but I think the main plan for us is just to tour a lot on this years material. Because we weren’t able to tour from the get go we’ve lost out on a lot of things like festivals and whatnot. I think once the album is out in January it’ll just be gig gig gig and just get in peoples faces physically rather than digitally this time.

Have you guys got much of a tour booked?

The only thing we’ve got is our release show in January. We’re looking at the moment to lock down a booking agent and then… . Again the advice we got was to look to tour just before summer. Then, avoid summer because it’s the festival season. Unfortunately, because most of the festivals at the minute are re-bookings from the previous two years it’s unlikely that we’ll get a slot on those. Then, after the festival season, get out and do some more stuff.

But it’s all a bit up in the air at the minute. We’re just driving towards this album show and then we’re going to work out what we’re going to do once we’ve got that under our belt.

Generally, how would you describe your sound?

Every time I’m asked this I never really know what to say! I usually go for alt-rock or pop-rock, but more recently I’ve ben saying it’s ‘heavy pop music with riffs’. It’s guitar driven rock music, obviously, but vocally it’s quite hooky with catchy parts.

It’s sort of like a bit of everything for everyone. Especially with our earlier material. It’s got a lot of lighter elements and then this new EP is heavier so it sort of touches on a bit of everything.

Each EP has its own sound, really. You can still tell it’s us, from the first to the fourth EP, but there is a variation in influences. ‘Fade’ for example, which was on Shallow Is the Water. It’s a sort of similar sound to The 1975, which is obviously pretty light and poppy. But then you’ve got other tracks like ‘Control’ that are like early Don Broco. So it’s yeah, variations of influences throughout really.

Will you stick with the wide range of sound going forward?

I think some of the newer stuff we’ve been working on and getting produced has gone a little bit lighter than the last EP. We’ve kinda gone heavy, then we’re going to go light again for a bit, but we’re still in the writing process for that. We’ve got one song produced for the next thing but with no sight of when that is out we’re just being proactive and writing so we have something.

Get ahead of the game!

Exactly! So I might watch this back in six months and we’ve written a really heavy song and then this doesn’t make sense. But at the minute it’s gone a bit lighter, a little funky in places but ultimately it’s still pop-rock with riffs!

Even though you haven’t gigged too much, what would you say the state of the music industry is like right now?

I think digitally, because that’s the best way we can really talk about stuff, it’s skyrocketed. It’s done great things for music. Things like TikTok for example, which we are still very new to but are trying to understand and be one with the young people who know how to use these fucking apps. I think it’s been a great thing for music. For example Papa Roach, who are a super old-school nu-metal band, have been brought back into the modern people’s sights from going viral on there with a very old single of theirs. There’s probably loads of other artists that have either been discovered or rediscovered from TikTok.

So as far as social platforms and things it’s been amazing. I know there’ll be a lot of people out there saying that ‘that’s rubbish’ and ‘you still need to be able to buy CDs’ and people miss going to miss going to buy physical copies of stuff but the reality is that that time has gone and you have to go along with what is happening or you will get left behind.

So yeah, the music’s been great from a digital standpoint. As far as the live stuff, when we’ve played stuff it’s been busy and it’s been great and everyone’s been enjoying themselves, but we just need to do more of them!

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Lyoness: The Silence

Lyoness is a band that has been around for a few years now but really broke out as soon as they released their first tracks in 2019, earning themselves a fantastic slot supporting the awesome Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes. The band has so far only put out singles, but that is all set to change with their upcoming EP. The first song of said EP, ‘The Silence’, was released today, so we thought we’d check it out and see what it’s like!

The track opens on a drumbeat that had a pretty strange yet interesting effect on it, it sitting far back in the mix and sounding muddy. We then get the guitar and bass coming in with a brief, low riff before Gillian’s low, indie/punk vocals come in over the top. It’s dripping in attitude and swagger, especially with the minimal instrumentation behind it. The second half the verses are cool too, the guitars coming in with an interesting riff that, if it was any less palm-muted, would be pretty damn heavy, but it works pretty well in this sort of setting too.

It all builds into a huge, pretty heavy chorus. The drums go cymbal heavy, opening out the track loads, and the guitars hit some huge chords. Meanwhile, the vocals get a little higher and harder, with Gillian coming up with a pretty damn catchy vocal line that repeats throughout. It then heads into an awesome little bridge part after the second chorus, with another heavy, awesome riff from the instruments while the vocals hum and ‘woh’ perfectly over the top. It reminds me a lot of Dorothy and that sort of American level of pop-rock heaviness, catchy and great. It also then swings into a final chorus to end things with a bang.

Overall: it was an awesome track, and one hell of a good choice to make as the first single for their EP. It was simple yet perfectly catchy and heavy for the band’s sound, as well as for wide-reaching radio play. You cannot ask for anything else really, and I cannot wait to hear what the rest of the EP has in store! 

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Dead Writers: Among Spirits

Dead Writers are a UK old-school pop-rock band. Their hotly anticipated self-titled debut EP is set for release in December, and they put out their first single from it, Among Spirits, a week or so ago. Their vintage sound got us intrigued enough as it is that we had to review it, which you can read down below! Safe to say we were not disappointed!

The track opens on a beautiful clean guitar riff, sounding equal parts uplifting but also sinister, a hard line to walk but done well! The low vocals come in over the top and instantly transport me back to the 80s. The singer reminds me a lot of someone and it pissed me off for a long while, but I think I have it narrowed down to a combination of Jarvis Cocker and Ville Valo. It sounds fantastic over the top of the steady instrumentation and builds up even more into a catchy, fuller chorus. The guitars and drums pick up a bit for it and the vocals start to sore through a very catchy, 80s-style melody. I love it.

We get a great bridge part after the second chorus where the vocalist moves onto the piano to add some awesome and frankly epic-sounding depth behind a wah-led lead guitar line. It reminds me a fair bit of some of Bowie’s rockier stuff, especially with how long they let the part breathe, think ‘Moonage Daydream’. It’s a really beautiful part of the song and highlights the talent of each band member fantastically. We then get a brief final verse before a massive final chorus takes us home in style.

Overall: This was awesome. Considering I hadn’t heard anything of this band really before now, they definitely have a new fan in me! The 80s vibe was fantastic, but they modernised it well and put their own spin on it. I cannot wait for the full EP!

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