ep review ~ 'coping mechanism' ~ steady decline

by 06:35

For fans of: Neck Deep, The Wonder Years, State Champs

Rarely will a brand new band emerge onto any scene as fully formed as Steady Decline.

Formed at the tail end of 2016 by four friends with a pop-punk shaped hole in their hearts,  the Dublin band announced themselves to the world with a cool name, logo, merch, a seven track EP/Mini album and an Irish tour literally within their first week of existance; with such rapid fire enthusiasm, could their music live up to the hype? Taylor Johnson listened to find out exactly that...

For all the exquisite attention to detail surrounding Steady Decline's start to life, 'Coping Mechanism' embodies everything they're about far more than any finely tuned music video ever could. Opening with the appropriatly named instrumental 'New Beginnings', this record is designed to feel like a gig, with everything from the tension building intro, to 'Battlescars' anthemic finale being taken into consideration.

Singles 'Front Porch' and 'Stay The Same' have an irrepressible swell, punchy verses each time leading to choruses which seem to get bigger with each passing guitar solo. Dual vocalists Oscar Hackett (Homecomings) and Jack Wright (Dream State) have an A Plastic Rose appeal, as both frontmen carry the same heavy weights in their head, the same longing. Together they work brilliantly, the effect instant.

The full throttle pulse of the title track keeps emotions running high, as Wright concludes that if he wants to drink the night away, he will. ("Fuck what your friends all say, this is my coping mechanism!"). Sounding straight out of Neck Deeps 'Life's Not Out To Get You', 'Start Over' see's more love laid to waste, more chances lost as Wright admits, "I wrote you once a week, but I could never send it..." and an outro reminiscent of his acoustic beginnings in much loved Galwegian band Dream State.

'Erase Me'  is the emotional pinacle of a record surrounded by pain. A change of pace from what we've heard so far.  It's a giant singalong waiting to happen, as Wright once again bares his soul for all to hear. It leads quite delicately to 'Battlescars', a tune that teases the smallest bit of light to shine on 'Coping Mechanism's dark shadows, before stripping it away. Brooding and heavier than the rest of the record, 'Battlescars' is Steady Decline's mission statement.

Whatever is thrown at them on this journey they are about to embark on, whatever they must deal with, Steady Decline will not stop moving forward...and they'll have the scars to prove it.

Taylor Johnson

ep review - tyrannosaurus wrex - 'fromthecarpet'

by 07:21

For fans of: Damien Rice, Joe Purdy, The Tallest Man On Earth

The ambient sadness of 'Fromthecarpet', the debut release from Tyrannosaurus Wrex, resonates long after the final chord has rung out on this quietly brilliant collection of demos.

The side project of Brand New Friend and Sea Above's Aaron Milligan, Tyrannosaurus Wrex's introduction to the world was made as subtly as the music itself; no fuss, no grandeur, just delicate songs with nods to The Tallest Man On Earth, Jose Gonzalez and Glen Hansard throughout.

Take the hypnotic waltz of opener 'Greens For Blues', a heartrending lofi trek through the deepest trenches of the human psyche, as we witness it's author battling his own brain. Beautifully, Milligan balances the desolate with hope, leaving just enough light in to break the darkness.

"After all I'm still me, still the same person I've always been, still the same blood running through my veins, the same heart and the same old pain"

'Phone Call' at times feels so personal, it seems an intrusion to listen on. We hear more haunting guitar work, layered over an acoustic lead and Milligan's hushed, entrancing vocals. We hear more solace in others, as he sings "Please keep answering my calls, I just wanna know you're there, don't have to say anything at all...". 

Closing the EP is 'Different', a song more in the vein of his alt-rock roots in Sea Above. Yet more complex guitar work is given room to grow in what is undoubtedly the most anthemic track on 'Fromthecarpet', yet that doesn't make it any less personal than the EP title suggests. We hear reflections on a battle won, but a war years from conclusion.

"Doing well, coping, sleep tonight, here's hoping..."

For an unofficial, bedroom demo, 'Fromthecarpet' hits incredibly close to home. 

Taylor Johnson

ep review ~ silly guys having a fun time ~ salad boyz

by 05:02

For fans of: Weezer, Pixies, Blur

By their very nature, Belfast's favourite vegetable-cult band don't take themselves too seriously. Born over a shared love of snacks and good times, SALAD BOYZ are a rare breed in a musical landscape littered with trend and self-importance; 'Silly Guys Having A Fun Time' sounds like a peaceful rebellion against that mentality, with some real bangers hiding amidst the party-themed chaos.

Take opener 'Crocodile' for example, a soul searching bop that see's frontman Tommy Haghighi take a look back at all the friends he's lost to time, life and geography. This is followed by 'Gotit', a funky jam in the vein of blur-meets Lou Reed. We see more self-deprecation, spun with just enough light to retain the 'fun time!' in the EP's title.

"I'm a joke, I'm a mess, I'm a bum, but I'm having fun" 

Careful not to bare too much of their soul three tracks in, the boyz take the opportunity to remind you that you have chosen to listen to a punk band named SALAD BOYZ. As a result, you are rewarded with 'Kickz', a hilarious rally through Haghighi's brain as he quite sweetly reminds the listener that he is in this for the "sweet dank beats and the super tasty licks'. Oh, the same also applies to the stock market, karate and rather beautifully, your own mother.

'Big Things' returns 'Silly Guys...' to a pleateau of something slightly more serious. The guitar work from Simon Gilbert on this record shines in it's subtlety, none more so than the intro here. Eventually descending into a mass of screamed vocals and inevitably, pirate metal.Which makes the finale all the more special.
When SALAD BOYZ have something real to say, they express it with more honesty and eloquence than they may realise. Closing number 'Over' is an anthem deserving of singalongs and tender moments. Of heartbreak-playlists and blossoming romance. Of failure and victory and just for the kicks. Like 'Crocodile' and 'T-42' before it, it highlights SALAD BOYZ ability to write a roof-raising chorus. The licks remain tasty, particularly in Gilbert's guitar solo leading to the last refrain.

"And I'd try to explain
But you wouldn't believe me
The words would be wrong
And they wouldn't come easy
You'd say we're alright
But it's obvious to see
It's over, it's over, it's over, it's over..." 

With songs as heartfelt as 'Over' in their locker, it's unclear whether SALAD BOYZ will ever want to stop being silly and having fun.  

I hope they don't.

Taylor Johnson

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