It’s hard to believe but 2021 is officially only four weeks from its big finale. One can only hope that moving forward from here into 2022, that sooner rather than later, we’ll finally be rid of this COVID-19 crap and life can finally go back to what it was. Time will tell. In the meantime, this critic has checked over his calendar for the year’s waning weeks, and surprisingly, there are no more new EPs to go through for the year. That means it is finally time to start in on this year’s “best of” year-ender lists. Of course, as in every year past, the very first of those lists comes in the form of the smallest of the music releases noted.
This year’s list of new EPs features new releases from at least one relatively well-known figure and a number of others who are either up-and-coming or semi-established. They run the gamut from family music to pop to rock and metal to even some southern rock/country. These lists are never easy to finalize because even among the EPs there is so much to appreciate musically and lyrically. That was taken into full consideration with this list, too. Those who have followed this critic’s ramblings for years on end, know how the lists work. For everyone else, they work as such: Instead of just 10 new offerings, this list is composed of 15 titles. The top 10 are the best of the best while the following five are honorable mention titles. This is not a stab at those releases or the acts that released them, either. Far from it. The whole purpose is to give those extras their due credit, too.
So without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks Top 10 New EPs of 2021.
PHIL’S PICKS 2021 TOP 10 NEW EPS
SaulPaul – OK To Be Different
Gabriel & The Apocalypse – Alpha Transcendence
Decent Criminal – Decent Criminal
The Mercy Kills – New Rule
Dirkschneider & The Old Gang – Arising
Repentance – Volume 1 – Reborn
All Hail The Yeti – Within The Hollow Earth
Kulick – Sitting in a Quiet Coffeehouse
Blue Eyed Christ – World on Fire Remixes
Zero Theorum – The Killing II
Sydney Sherwood – Headspace
Christopher Shayne – Ten High
20 Watt Tombstone – Year of the Jackalope
Post Death Soundtrack – Pathless Land
Black TarPoon – The Thad
That’s it for this year’s top new EPs. Thanks goes out to all of the firms that sent out this great music and so much more. No offense is meant to any act left out. For instance Of Mice & Men released a trio of new EPs this year, but they ended up as the new album, Echo, so that album is up for consideration among this critic’s top new hard rock/metal albums of the year. Even more year-enders are on their way as the last days of the year start to wind down, so stay tuned!
Independent rocker Christopher Shayne is helping southern rock fans start off the new year on a good note. The up-and-coming singer-songwriter is giving the noted audiences reason to be happy as 2021 opens with his new forthcoming EP Ten High. Scheduled for release Friday through Carry On Music, the seven-song record offers audiences something to like in its musical arrangements. They will be discussed shortly. The lyrical content that accompanies the EP’s musical arrangement offers its own appeal for listeners, too. It will be discussed a little later. The sequencing of the noted content rounds out the record’s most important elements, bringing everything together, completing the EP’s presentation. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Ten High. All things considered, they make Christopher Shayne’s new EP a record that guarantees its appeal to its target audiences.
Christopher Shayne’s forthcoming EP Ten High is a presentation that is certain to appeal to Shayne’s specifically targeted audiences from start to end of its 24-inute run time. That is proven in part through the record’s featured musical arrangements. The arrangements in question all present a distinct southern rock approach and sound. While each arrangement displays the same kind of approach and sound, the arrangements in whole do at least give audiences something unique from one song to the next. Case in point is a comparison between maybe ‘Any Given Sunday’ to the album’s title track. ’10 High’ gives audiences plenty of the noted southern rock sensibility at points throughout the song. At the same time, the verses in this song present a clear AC/DC style influence. The contrast of those two styles gives audiences something interesting in itself. Meanwhile ‘Any Given Sunday’ presents more of a southern/country rock style approach. Shayne’s own unique composition adds subtle influences from the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd and maybe Josh Turner. Again, the influence is so subtle, but it is noticeable through a close listen. When that whole is compared to the whole of the EP’s title track, it leads to more appreciation for the record’s musical arrangement.
On another level, ‘Jus Get Drunk,’ which closes out the EP immediately lends itself to comparison to work that Zakk Wylde has composed with his side project Pride & Glory in terms of its acoustic approach and distinct southern rock sound. Shayne’s vocal delivery style is even right up there with that of Wylde and other powerhouse vocalists. By comparison, ‘Give A Damn’ is arguably the EP’s most intense arrangement. It is yet another full-on composition, but there is so much fire and vim in this work. It is comparable to works from virtually any southern rock outfit out there today. The subtle addition of the banjo in the song’s opening bars adds its own unique touch to the whole of the song, too. When one examines this song in comparison not only to ‘Just Get Drunk,’ but also to the rest of the EP’s arrangements, its power becomes even more evident. What’s more, when all of the songs are considered together, the whole of that content makes for reason in itself for southern rock fans to take in this record. That foundation is strengthened even more through the EP’s lyrical content.
The lyrical content that is presented in Ten High is just as accessible for listeners as the EP’s musical content. The record’s opener and closer are both pretty clear in their content. They center on drinking. What is interesting to note is that where ‘Pour The Bottle’ presents a man who is having no regrets about just drinking his troubles away and tells the bartender, “I ain’t finished yet/Pour the bottle/I won’t have any regrets. He even goes on in the song’s second verse to sing about drowning himself “in alcohol.” So again, this is someone who is just giving that proverbial middle finger to the world, including obviously a woman that has wronged him. ‘Jut Get Drunk,’ by comparison is the opposite end of that emotion. This song is that person sitting at the bar, having gotten drunk, he talks about not feeling the same without some whisky and that he’d “rather just get drunk/’Cause I need a little time/To sort what’s in my mind/Just one more and I’ll be fine.” So again, here are two songs that lyrically tell their own story. The contrast in those two sides will ensure listeners’ engagement in itself.
On another hand, ‘Getaway Babe’ changes directions but keeps listeners engaged with its lyrical content. This song’s lyrical theme is that familiar topic of a man who is crazy for a woman. He tells her to “come get gone with me” in the song’s chorus, while adding plenty of praise in the verses. That familiarity and the song’s catchy musical arrangement pair to make the song in whole yet another standout addition to Ten High. When it is considered along with the equally engaging story presented in ‘Just Get Drunk’ and ‘Pour The Bottle’ and the rest of the EP’s lyrical content, the whole of that content makes for plenty for audiences to enjoy lyrically, too. The appeal that the EP’s lyrical content provides audiences is just one more part of what makes the EP stand out. The sequencing of the content puts its own ouch to the record. The sequencing of the record’s musical and lyrical content puts the finishing touch to its presentation.
The sequencing of Ten High’s overall content brings everything together in this record, to complete the EP’s presentation. As has already been noted, the EP’s opener and closer certainly seem to work hand in hand even if not intentionally. That book-ending, generated through the sequencing is sure to present its own appeal. Along the way, the sequencing changes things up, going from the seeming celebratory title track to the equally familiar topic of a man who is crazy for a woman in ‘Getaway Baby’ to the slightly introspective ‘Any Given Sunday’ and ‘Burn Me Down.’ The rather rowdy ‘Give A Damn’ changes things up even more before the EP closes out in the almost rueful ‘Just Get Drunk.’ The whole of the noted lyrical content ensures in itself shows that plenty of thought was put into the sequencing of this side of the EP. Just as much thought was put into the sequencing of the EP in regards to its arrangements and their energies.
What more can be said of the sequencing of the EP in regards to its musical arrangements and their energy than it ensures the energy stays high. The only time when the EP really pulls back is in its closer. Other than that moment, ‘Burn Me Down’ is the only other point that presents any pull back in the record’s energy. That pull back is noted in the song’s opening bars. It only lasts that short time, too. From those opening bars, things waste little time picking back up. Overall, the sequencing of Ten High in regards to its energy ensures that aspect keeps listeners remain engaged just as much as that of the lyrical content. It barely lets up at least until the EP’s finale. To that end, it will keep listeners fully engaged and entertained. Keeping this in mind, when this final touch is put to the EP, it brings everything together and completes the record’s presentation. The result of that completion is that the record will appeal strongly to Christopher Shayne’s target audiences.
Christopher Shayne’s forthcoming EP Ten High is a record of which southern rock and country rock fans will think highly. That is due in part to its musical arrangements. The arrangement in question boast some very clear southern and country rock vibes while also making sure the arrangements do not just copycat one another. There are subtle changes in each song that show a wide range of influences. That alone helps the EP’s appeal. The lyrical content that accompanies the EP’s musical arrangements adds its own touch to the EP’s presentation. That is because the topics presented in the lyrical themes are accessible. They are familiar topics for any listeners. The sequencing of that musical and lyrical content brings everything together, completing its presentation. Each item noted here does its own important part to make Christopher Shayne’s new EP appealing. All things considered, the EP proves a work that will appeal equally to any southern and country rock fan. Ten High is scheduled for release Friday through Carry On Music. More information on the EP is available along with all of Christopher Shayne’s latest news at https://www.facebook.com/christophershaynemusic.