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.

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‘Retaliation’ Is A Strong Start For Hyvmine’s Sophomore Album

Courtesy: Seek & Strike

Up-and-coming hard rock band Hyvmine is hard at work in the studio on its sophomore album.  In anticipation of the as-yet-untitled record’s release, the band will release the album’s debut single ‘Retaliation’ next month.  Its planned release comes a little more than four months after the band released its new EP Fight or Flight, and is a positive first preview of the album.  That is due in part to its musical arrangement, which will be discussed shortly.  The song’s lyrical content couples with the arrangement to add even more depth and interest to its presentation.  The song’s production rounds out the most important of its elements.  Each element is crucial in its own way to the whole of the single.  All things considered, they make ‘Retaliation’ a strong new offering from Hyvmine album that definitely succeeds in building anticipation for its new album.

The musical arrangement presented in ‘Retaliation’ is important to note because it is such a stark departure from the more familiar prog-metal sound presented in its 2016 debut Earthquake.  The guitars, electronics and vocals of front man Al Joseph show clear similarities to the best works of Sevendust, Stone Sour and Trivium just to name a few bands.  Just as interesting to note is the guitar riff featured in the song’s bridge.  That riff actually lends itself at least slightly to some of Eddie Van Halen’s best guitar solos.  How’s that for a comparison?  Meanwhile, the secondary guitar line of Alon Mei-Tai and low-end from bassist Chris Joseph fleshes out the arrangement even more alongside the work of the band’s unlisted session drummer. Between all of that and the more modern influences put on display throughout the course of the song’s four-and-a-half-minute run time, audiences get a song here that shows a new direction for Hyvmine; a direction that could help break the band into the mainstream, and make it one of the next big names in the hard rock community.

The power in the arrangement at the center of ‘Retaliation’ in itself gives listeners plenty to appreciate about the song, and it is only one of the song’s important elements.  The song’s lyrical content plays its own important part to the song’s presentation as its musical arrangement.  Joseph sings here, “Your master plan’s a waste of time/I’m right behind/You’re never getting out alive/You’re a fool/You can’t complete with me/Tapped in your blood while you were wasting precious energy/You’ll see your wasted time/I’ve come to take your life.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “You broke the rules/You crossed the sea/You’ve made your own contraption/Well no one else can hear you scream/Don’t ever waste my time/Before I waste your life.”  This is a straight forward message that is driven home even more in the second chorus as Joseph sings, “I got a calling/And I can’t afford to waste my time/So enough with this falling/And I can’t afford to get out of line/Don’t care for your reasons/They never amount to what you’ll find/So shut your mouth/You’d best be still/’Cause I’m built to kill.”  This comes across as someone who has been wronged in some way and is not going to put up with the other person’s behavior any longer.  It is full on, proud defiance from the song’s subject, and displays a strong will.  Considering the number of people who have been in a situation very similar to this, it is certain to reach a wide range of listeners.  When this is considered along with the song’s driving melodic hard rock arrangement, the song becomes in whole, a positive preview of Hyvmine’s upcoming album.  Even with this in mind, the song’s content is only part of what makes it a positive new offering from the band.  The song’s production is just as important to note as its overall content.

The production at the center of ‘Retaliation’ is important to note because it is that work that brings everything together.  It can be said with ease that the song’s production is just as positive as its overall content, too.  The call and response effect used for some of the vocal lines between the verses and choruses supports that statement.  The way in which Joseph’s vocals are layered in order to create that call and response effect is a great effect.  On another level, the distortion added to the guitars adds its own depth to the song, too.  Overall, the balance of the instruments and Joseph’s vocals proves impressive in its own right.  Some might see this as a given, but the fact of the matter is that there are bands whose songs have proven not that great because they were not that well produced.  The vocals are washed out by the instruments or vice versa.  They are rare, but not overly rare.  Thankfully that is not the case with this song.  The production keeps everything very well-balanced throughout the almost five-minute song.  The end result of that attention to detail is a song that is easy on the ears not just because of the music, but because of the work of those behind the glass.  When this is considered along with the fully relatable lyrical content, the whole of the song proves that much more to be a positive start for the band in its new album.  One can only hope that the success of this song will continue with the rest of the album when it is finally released next year.

Hyvmine’s new single ‘Retaliation’ is a strong start for the band’s as-yet-untitled forthcoming sophomore album.  That is proven in part through a musical arrangement that shows the band has grown from its debut, and done so unapologetically at that.  The song’s lyrical content supports that statement even more.  That is because the situation portrayed in the lyrics is such that listeners will be able to relate.  The song’s production puts the final touch to the song, making it that much easier on the ears.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of ‘Retaliation.’  All things considered, they give listeners reason to be cautiously optimistic about the band’s as-yet-untitled forthcoming sophomore album.  More information on ‘Retaliation’ is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.hyvmine.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hyvmineband

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Hyvmineband

 

 

 

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‘Earthquake’ Is A Good First Impression For Hyvmine

Courtesy: Seek and Strike Records

The first impression is the most important that ca be made in any situation. From getting that coveted job to winning over a love interest to winning over audiences, that first impression is the best chance that one has to success in so many avenues. Taking this into consideration, it can be said that up-and-coming hard rock outfit Hyvmine has made a good first impression with its debut album Earthquake. Released Jan. 19 via independent label Seek & Strike Records (also home to Between The Buried and Me, Body Count, Gus G. and others), this first effort from Hyvmine is certain to reach a wide array of audiences. That is proven in part through the diversity in the album’s musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The album’s sequencing also helps to prove its ability to reach audiences, and will be discussed later. The record’s production is also important to its ability to reach listeners and will also be discussed later. Each element is important in its own way to the whole of Earthquake‘s overall presentation. All things considered, the noted elements make Earthquake a record that while not earth-shaking, is still a good first impression for Hyvmine.

Hard rock outfit Hyvmine’s debut album Earthquake is a work that, as noted is not necessarily an earth-shaking record. It is however, a good first impression for the up-and-coming hard rock outfit. That statement is supported in part through the musical arrangements that are exhibited throughout the course of the album’s nine-song, 42-minute body. right off the top, audiences are treated to an arrangement in ‘Shift’ that boasts elements of Alter Bridge and Dream Theater. Yes, that’s quite the duality, but somehow front man Al Joseph and his band mates make that pairing of influences work. The slow build from the song’s opening piano line into the more contemplative moments that make up the early portion of the song builds a strong foundation for the song. The eventual growth from that vibe to the more power packed portions of the song shows definite thought put into the arrangement, and in turn is sure to keep listeners engaged. the same can be said of the joining those Alter Bridge and Dream Theater influences within those harder-edged moments. Joseph’s own vocal delivery boasts an eerie similarity to that of Alter Bridge front man Myles Kennedy, too, adding even more interest to the arrangement. Add in the song’s lyrical content, which seems to present the message of living life to the fullest, and audiences get an interesting first effort here. It is of course only one song that shows the importance of the album’s arrangements to its whole. The post-grunge vibe of ‘Fire Escape’ conjures thoughts of Korn, Staind and so many aggro-rock bands that rose to fame in the late 90s and early 2000s while ‘Mirror Master’ brings about thoughts of Sevendust and The Veer Union. The arrangement at the center of the album’s title track, which also comes virtually dead center of the album, will reach fans of Creed and other similar acts. Considering the diversity displayed throughout these songs and that of the songs not noted here, it becomes fully clear why that diversity helps to make this record a good first impression for this record. It shows the band’s ability to cover any type of rock, giving in itself reason for audiences to give it at least one listen. It is just one of the album’s most important elements. Staying on the same note as the songs, their sequencing proves just as important to discuss as their arrangements.

Earthquake‘s sequencing is important to note because as much as the songs’ arrangements do for the record’s presentation, if they had been poorly placed, they would have been completely useless. Luckily though, that didn’t happen. Again, noting the gentle, contemplative piano run at the start of the album’s opener and the manner in which it builds into the bigger picture of the song, it is just the first strong salvo from the band. The transition from that song’s raucous finale to the more controlled yet heavy riffs of ‘Mirror Master’ was a smooth and smart move. It keeps the heavy without being too stark of a change. The heavy continues into the album’s third track with the more up-tempo ‘Shogun,’ which also boasts a solo that would make John Petrucci proud. The heavy still doesn’t end there. From there, the album transitions into a rather Creed-esque radio ready rocker in ‘All of Creation’ before the album finally pulls back in ‘Earthquake.’ What’s really interesting here is that while it does finally pull back, that pull back is only partial as it starts off soft before picking back up a little bit in what is overall yet another Creed style work. ‘Fire Escape,’ the start of the album’s final trio of songs, brings the heavy back in full force before moving in a slightly more mainstream direction again ‘ Elysium.’ ‘Great Divide,’ the album’s penultimate track, gives listeners one last dose of heavy before closing out the record in another Creed-esque rocker in ‘Cliffhanger.’ Considering the direction that the album takes from beginning to end with its energies, it can be said after going through the whole of the 43-minute run time that the album’s energy stays relatively stable. That applies from song to song and even within the songs themselves. The stability of the energies within the songs and between songs creates a listening experience that even more certifies listeners’ engagement. When that insurance is considered along with the insurance generated through the songs’ very arrangements, that whole shows even more why Earthquake, while again not earth-shaking, is still a good first impression from Hyvmine. It is still not the last of the elements that makes this record a respectable start for the band. Its overall production is also worth noting.

The album’s production is important to note in examining Earthquake because while it does largely impress, there are at least a couple of problem points. ‘Shogun’ is one of those problem points. There are moments throughout the song when front man Al Joseph’s vocals are slightly washed out by the song’s musical elements. This means that interpretation of what he is singing becomes difficult without a lyrics sheet. There also seems to be a bit of a balance issue between Joseph’s vocals and the song’s musical elements here, too. This is, of course, just this critic’s own take. Others might hear it differently. The problem that this critic has caught here is that again, the music seems to slightly overpower Joseph’s vocals. That takes away at least something from the enjoyment here. The vocals in ‘Elysium”s chorus seem to bleed together a little with its musical side, too. Again, this is just this critic’s interpretation. Other than those directly noted elements, the album’s production proves relatively positive throughout. Keeping this in mind, it proves — despite the few problematic balance issues — to be relatively stable from beginning to end. When that is considered alongside the stability in the album’s sequencing and the variety of the album’s musical arrangements, the whole of these elements shows in full why Earthquake is a good first impression for Hyvmine.

Hyvmine’s debut album Earthquake is a good first impression for the band. While it may not be an earth-shaking start for the band, it is still respectable. That is thanks in part to the variety exhibited in the album’s musical arrangements. From Dream Theater to Korn to Creed and points even in-between, the album’s arrangements are certain to reach a variety of audiences. The album’s sequencing keeps its energy relatively stable from beginning to end. This is proven through the song transitions and even within the songs themselves. The album’s overall production is relatively stable, too, strengthening its presentation even more. Each element is important in its own right to the album’s whole. All things considered, they make Earthquake a good first impression from Hyvmine that, while it might not have everyone thinking the same, will impress plenty of audiences. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Hyvmine is available online now at:

Website: http://seekandstrike.com/artists/hyvmine

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hyvmineband

Twitter: http://twitter.com/hyvmineband

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.