In The Back Of My Mind is the brand new EP from south coast pop-punk band Maypine. From the first listen, it is clear that this band have a lot of energy to bring to the table. But as essential as that is to a pop-punk release, an EP can’t get by on just energy alone – so is there any substance to it?
Initially, I wasn’t sure about the answer to this question. ‘Day After Day’ is a nice enough listen, but I think I’ve listened to so many pop-punk ballads that they all blur into one in my head at this point. ‘North/South Divide’ also never initially stood out to me, sounding like just your average pop-punk song, nothing more and nothing less.
But on the second listen, everything began to fall into place. While I hadn’t originally been too fond of the above two songs, they began to stand out more and more to me. ‘North/South Divide’s catchy hooks and pop-punk sensibilities grew on me, becoming charming rather than tired. Not only this, ‘Day After Day’ is actually a long way above your average pop-punk ballad, approaching a serious subject in a charmingly sentimental way. Not to mention ‘Day After Day’, easily one of the best songs on the album; an absolute anthem and a great closer.
While at first it may seem like this is another average modern pop-punk release (and trust me, there have been a lot of those over the past few years), I urge you to try it. Listen more closely and you’ll find it brimming with charm, energy and style. This band have potential for sure.
Best song: Day After Day
Best Ex are a band who have evolved. Originally named Candy Hearts, they released a couple of albums as a punk band before making a massive transformation. Lead singer Mariel Loveland recently stated in an interview that ‘Candy Hearts turned into an extension of my anxiety … Best Ex takes everything that Candy Hearts was but without my no-good anxiety’. Obviously this is great news, and it is clear that this EP has been made with much more freedom.
There is a clear difference between this and Candy Hearts music though. Gone are any aspects of the punk from the previous album, replaced by a collection of warm synth sounds and soft, melodic vocals. There is a clear difference in the lyrics too – a new sort of confidence seems evident in Loveland’s voice, contrasted by a more vulnerable edge. Her vocal ability seems to have improved too. All of this has added together to make a lovely little EP, full of songs to sing along to in your bedroom. The warm, happy sound mixed with the vulnerable lyrics are a great combination.
All 6 tracks of the EP show how far this band has come, and even though a couple of songs slightly miss the mark, it shows promising signs from a talented band. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Best song: See You Again
There’s something special about Night Argent’s sound. The production is as massive and epic, and electric elements are used heavily throughout. Having said that, the guitars are always more than present in the mix, driving their songs along. It’s something like if you took the production from Smoke And Mirrors by Imagine Dragons, mixed it with the electronic parts of Twenty One Pilots’ Vessel, and turned the guitars up a lot in the mix. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, it really is.
It’s great to have so many different sounds mix together to make something so special. But they don’t just rely on their influences to get them through. These songs stand up fantastically on their own. Their sound is melodic, epic, and complex, creating some massive choruses like in the fantastic ‘Dreamcatcher’, but showing they can turn it down a little in tracks like ‘Dream Of The Ocean’, creating a beautiful soundscape to back up the melodic vocals.
In this EP, Night Argent have created a sound that sounds so comfortingly familiar, yet so widely different from any other. It’s difficult to describe, so do yourself a favour and give it a listen. You won’t regret it.
Best song: Dreamcatcher
Despite having released 3 EPs now, Bellevue Days are a fairly new band. But they are a band I’m fairly excited about, given that their first two EPs have been highly spoken of by Rock Sound. Not only this, but they have already been likened to bands like Brand New, and to gain that sort of praise at this point of your career isn’t just rare, but extremely special. You’ll be pleased to know that the band have delivered just as much on this, their third EP.
Musically, this EP is fantastic. The band switch effortlessly from clean, atmospheric guitar to heavy distortion many times over in this record, a skill hard to find. The lyrics are yet again pensive and vulnerable, moving from soft to harsh perfectly, just like the music. This isn’t instantly catchy, dancefloor music, but it has more of a complex edge, relying on perfect composition and honest lyrics rather than catchy hooks to do it work.
Every track on this EP is worthy of a place, coming together to create one of the most complex, honest, and vulnerable records I’ve heard this year. But to really experience its’ beauty, you’ll have to listen to it yourself.
Best song: Dead Summer
If there’s one thing I expected from this album, it was colourful, catchy tunes. I’ve played singles ‘Technicolor’ and ‘With Or Without Me’ to death now, not to say that I’m sick of them. ‘Technicolor’s soaring chorus is impossible not to sing along to, and the even catchier ‘With Or Without Me’ is a joy to listen along to with its colourful synths and occasional crunchy guitar. Both songs have a sense of fun that a lot of other modern music seems to be lacking, and benefit greatly from it; an escape from the stress of living in this world.
But having mentioned stress, one person who seems to be completely lacking in it is lead singer Tay Jardine. With this new project she has been able to experiment and push the realms of her music even further than she could have in her main band, We Are The In Crowd. On opening track ‘Eyes Are Open’, she sings ‘there’s nothing to be afraid of’, and she certainly hasn’t been afraid of anything on this EP, embracing a poppier side of her music to great success. The guitars take more of a back seat on a lot of songs, leaving space for colourful swirling synths, and furthermore letting Jardine’s voice flourish even more. This is not to say that they have strayed completely from their pop-punk roots though, as the thundering guitars and crashing drums are never far away, forming a great backbone for all of the songs.
Jardine sings ‘this uncertainty has got me restless’ on main single ‘Technicolor’, but one thing that is certain is that this is an incredible EP. The pop-punk roots, mixed with the poppier new elements fuse together seamlessly, creating seven songs that could all be singles in their own right. This might just be a side project, but this has to be Jardine’s best work to date.
Best song: With Or Without Me
Without doubt, 2017 has been a year of resurgence for both emo and punk music. Bands like Creeper and Miss Vincent have been gaining massive popularity over the past six months, among many other up-and-coming bands. One band that arguably fits into both of these categories is Fire In The Radio, a Philadelphia-based punk band that have created a refreshing new sound in this EP, New Air.
This sound is perfected in the first two tracks: ‘New Air’ and ‘I Don’t Know, I Remember’. The lead singer’s unique low voice is surrounded by bright, melodic guitars, sounding both energetic and melancholy at the same time. And that’s a pretty hard balance to keep. However the record would be pretty one-dimensional if all the tracks had a similar sound- songs like ‘Adeline’ and ‘Holy Shit’ help to switch things up with a slower tempo, but no less catchiness. Not to mention the incredible ‘Lionel Hampton Was Right’ – the best chorus on the EP by a long way.
From front to back, this EP never seems to drag on or overstay its welcome. No track feels out of place, and I’m actually thankful it lasts as long as it does. Work of this quality shows great promise, and I can’t wait for whatever this band come up with next.
Best song: Lionel Hampton Was Right
This, the second EP from pop-punk band Ten Cents Short, instantly seems to be making a statement. Their first EP showed a brand of energetic pop-punk that was incredibly catchy. It seemed influenced by old and new pop-punk alike, with shades of bands like Neck Deep and New Found Glory at the same time. And this EP seems to take off exactly where the first left off.
‘Draw The Line’ shows off a low, chunky riff, before blasting into a frenetic verse and chorus. Sounding like New Found Glory mixed their sound with a band like ROAM, this shows exactly the promise this band has. ‘Beggars’ is very similar to this, while ‘Higher Powers’ shows an acoustic beginning, before blasting into more of their trademark pop-punk. The closest the album comes to having any sort of a slow moment is in their final track ‘Make It’. It is the slowest song on the album, but in style, it is still as pop-punk as ever.
This album is typical, catchy pop-punk, but I have one problem with it – it rarely changes things up. This album is so promising, but to be really successful, it needs to do more than just typical pop-punk, or the band will be at risk of falling into the sea of same-sounding bands there are around at the moment. And by this I don’t mean stop playing pop-punk, far from it. Just vary the sounds of the songs up a bit – write some slower songs, some faster ones, and maybe throw an acoustic track or two in there. Just add in some much-needed variety. Despite this, it’s a great second effort from a promising band.
Best song: Higher Powers