Monophonics EP Takes Top Honors In 2018 Best New EPs List

Courtesy: Transistor Sound

The countdown to the end of the year is officially on, and with that countdown on, many critics — if not most — are either submitting their year-ender lists or have already done just that.  Now this critic is joining those ranks with the first of many year-enders to come in the form of the year’s Top 10 New EPs.

Those who have followed this critic’s daily ramblings year in and year out know that the year-enders have always started with the smallest records, the EPs, and this year is no different.  This year has seen a variety of interesting EPs released from across the musical universe.

Veteran rock band Sister Hazel is joined on this critic’s list this year with not one, but two new EPs — Wind and Water.  Each one stands out in its own right.  Also worth noting this year are new releases from the likes of up-and-coming hard rock/prog-metal outfit Hyvmine, World Music act Te’Amir, with two of its own new EPs and pop country artist Max Ater among many others.

As with every year past, this critic’s list features not 10, but 15 titles.  The top 10 titles are the primary titles, while the next five are honorable mention titles.  With everything noted, here with out any further ado, is Phil’s Picks Top 10 New EPs of 2018.

PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW EPs 

  1. Monophonics — Mirrors
  2. Hyvmine — Fight or Flight
  3. Sister Hazel — Water
  4. Sister Hazel — Wind
  5. Memphis Ukulele Band — Holidays Ain’t The Same
  6. Grand Canyon — Grand Canyon
  7. Max Ater — Small Town
  8. Te’Amir — Abyssinia
  9. Te’Armi — Abyssinia Rise
  10. Sammy Johnson — Midnight Lovers
  11. Sevi Ettinger — Salty Water
  12. Facing Fire — Facing Fire
  13. Ali McManus — Unbreakable
  14. Doc Rotten — Sick & Suffering
  15. Anialator — Rise To Supremacy

Up next from Phil’s Picks is this year’s Top 10 New Rap and Hip-Hop Albums.  That list features some well-known and not-so-well-known names and titles.  Stay tuned for that, too.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Solid Musical Arrangements, Inspiring Lyrical Themes Bolster Facing Fire’s Debut Self-Titled EP

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

This critic has noted time and again through so many reviews that independent musical acts, regardless of genre (or sub-genre) deserves just as much attention and credit as their mainstream counterparts.  That is because today’s independent band is only tomorrow’s potential mainstream superstar.  This includes, as also noted so often, unsigned bands and bands signed to independent labels versus major labels.  Hopefully this critic has managed to convince at least some audiences out there of this argument in the noted previous reviews.  For those who maybe are not yet convinced, they will hopefully be convinced after reading this critic’s review of Ohio-based agro-rock act Facing Fire’s debut self-titled EP.  Released this past February via independent label Pavement Entertainment, this four-song, 15-minute record is – in this critic’s ears – more proof of the importance of the independent music scene.  It is a record that will easily appeal to fans of Staind, Three Days Grace, Drowning Pool and even to a lesser degree, Linkin Park among many others.  That applies at least musically.  Lyrically though, it is a record that is certain to reach so many more audiences, as is proven right off the top in the EP’s opener, ‘Dying Inside.’  This powerhouse rocker will be discussed shortly.  ‘Overcome,’ the EP’s penultimate track, is another example of what makes this record so surprisingly appealing.  It will be discussed later.  The same can be said of ‘Filthy Life,’ the EP’s second song.  Each of these tracks plays its own important part in proving why Facing Fire is deserving of attention and credit.  When they are joined with the EP’s closer, ‘Fake,’ the whole of those songs proves Facing Fire to be a record and band that deserves its own share of attention and credit.

Facing Fire, the debut self-titled EP from Ohio-based agro-rock band Facing Fire is a good start for the Ohio-based agro-rock band.  It is a record that proves, like so many independent records out there, that independent acts deserve attention and credit just as much as their mainstream counterparts.  That is proven in part through the EP’s opener, ‘Dying Inside.’  As has been noted already, much of this record is, musically a presentation that will appeal easily to any agro-rock fan.  The combination of the electronics and guitars is instantly infectious, conjuring thoughts of Staind, Three Days Grace and other similar acts.  That is just one part of what makes this song such a strong entry for the record.  The song’s positive lyrical content, coupled with that infectious musical arrangement makes the song a solid start to the EP and a song that is certain to entertain and inspire listeners across the board.  As front man Scott Artis sings here, “Lost alone and slipping out of reach/The time is now to shed the hate you breed/With each breath I take, I see how much you suffer/The anger and the hurt it can’t go further/Raise your fists and fight/The hatred insight that’s stealing your life/Step across the line.”  He goes on in similar fashion in the song’s second verse, adding in at one point, “Realize it don’t have to be this way/With each step you take/I feel you getting closer/Well raise your hand/It’s not too late to start over.”  Little, if any doubt is left here.  This is Artis saying to listeners, things can change and for the better at that.  One just has to take that first step to make the positive change happen.  It’s a truly inspiring message from which listeners of every age can benefit.  The addition of the song’s infectious, guitar-driven arrangement strengthens it even more.  Both elements together make the song a work that that easily could make an impact on any mainstream rock radio station.  This, again, shows at least in part why the record and band deserve just as much attention and credit as its more well-known counterparts.  It is just one of the songs featured in the EP that serves to support that statement.  ‘Overcome’ proves in its own unique way why Facing Fire and the band deserve attention and credit.

Much like ‘Dying Inside,’ ‘Overcome’ proves to be another example of what makes Facing Fire a strong debut from Facing Fire because of the combination of its musical arrangement and positive lyrical content.  Musically speaking, the constant heavy/soft back and forth of the arrangement and its general sound conjures thoughts of Breaking Benjamin, Staind, Soil and Drowning Pool among other similar acts.  One could even argue that there is a touch of Three Days Grace and Five Finger Death Punch here.  Keeping that in mind, the song’s arrangement has plenty to offer audiences.  The song’s lyrical content offers just as much to appreciate, with Artis singing, “Falling in and out of life/Taking life one day at a time/Reaching out and holding on/Over and over, I step in/I will fight to the end/I feel alive/You can’t hold me down too long/I realize/That I’m not the only one/This life is mine/To make of it what I want/And I will find/I’ll rise up and overcome.”  This is just the song’s lead verse.  Again, it leaves little, if any doubt as to its message.  It is a positive message reminding listeners that no matter how bad things can be, they need to remind themselves to be strong, because they’re not alone in their struggles.  That’s all just the song’s lead verse, no less.  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Running toward the other side/Take a breath, don’t toe the line/Holding out for what is right/Falling faster, I slip in/I won’t let it happen again/I feel alive/You can’t hold me down too long/I realize, that I’m not the only one/This life is mine/To make of it what I want/And I will find/I will rise up and overcome.”  This is just a reiteration of what Artis was trying to get across in the song’s lead verse, driving home that message even more.  When that positive message is coupled with the sense of determination and self-confidence, it only becomes stronger and more impacting.  Keeping this in mind, it becomes clear why this song is yet another example of what makes the EP in whole such a strong start for Facing Fire.  It still is not the last of the songs that serves to support that statement.  ‘Filthy Life,’ the EP’s second song, is yet another way in which the EP shows itself to be deserving of attention and credit.

In regards to its musical side, there is no denying the agro-rock influence of ‘Filthy Life.’  Instantly, this song conjures thoughts of Soil and Drowning Pool with its brooding musical arrangement.  More specifically, it conjures thoughts of Drowning Pool in its early days.  Those familiar with that part of the band’s body of work – and who appreciate that sound — will appreciate such a sound here.  Lyrically, the song is just as certain to garner some attention.  That’s due to the seeming counseling session of sorts that the song’s subject offers to another person as Artis sings,“You/You don’t have to be a victim of your upbringing/he was lost/You are found/Just let it out now/Scream and shout/Say/You never really found the time/in the midst of the life/To reach the ones who needed your filthy lost/You lost the ones you loved/Because nothing was ever enough/Washing my hands this time of your filthy life.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Stop/Don’t take the blame/It’s not your fault/Though you’re not the same/Just push/Out the pain/Just let it out now/Scream and shout, say/You never really found the time/In the midst of the life/To reach the ones that needed your filthy life/Lost the ones you loved/Cause nothing was ever enough/Washing my hands this time of your filthy life.”  This comes across as someone telling a friend or even family member who has been victimized in one way or another that they are a victim, but don’t have to be.  The assailant of sorts (or maybe just the negligent figure in the relationship) has to be addressed.  If this is what Artis and company were trying to get across, then they did a good job of doing just that.  There are so many people in this world who have been victimized in one way or another at the hands of a friend or loved one yet don’t’ stand up for themselves.  Having someone tell the victims that they can be strong instead of allowing themselves to be victims is really something welcome.  The song’s musical arrangement captures the emotion that must be felt in such discussions, too.  The two elements together make even more clear why this song is another important addition to Facing Fire.  When it is joined with ‘Dying Inside’ and ‘Overcome,’ that trio of songs shows without a single doubt why this is another independent album and band that deserves its share of attention and credit.  That’s not to ignore ‘Fake,’ the EP’s closer.  It offers its own interest, too.  All things considered, they make Facing Fire a record and a band that deserves just as much attention and credit as its more well-known, mainstream counterparts.  Keeping that in mind, it is worth at least one listen by any hard rock and agro-rock fan.

Independent hard/agro-rock band Facing Fire’s debut self-titled EP is a strong start for the Ohio-based band.  As has been discussed here, that is due in part to musical arrangements that will easily appeal to hard rock and especially aggro-rock fans.  The largely inspiring lyrical themes presented throughout the record add even more interest and enjoyment to the record.  This is proven throughout each of the EP’s four songs, and especially in the songs discussed here. When they are joined with the EP’s closer, the whole of the songs’ musical and lyrical content comes together to make Facing Fire a record that definitely burns bright at the start of Facing Fire’s life.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on Facing Fire is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.facingfire.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/facingfire

Twitter: http://twitter.com/facingfire

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.