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.


  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.

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‘Small Town’ Could Be A “Big” Success For Max Ater

Courtesy: Prudential Records

Late next month, up-and-coming singer-songwriter Max Ater will release his sophomore EP Small Town to the masses.  Planned for release via indie record label Prudential Records – which also lists the likes of Puddle of Mud, Flotsam and Jetsam and Dark New Day among its artists – the five song EP is an interesting new effort that, given the right support, could go a long way toward helping the Maine native become a mainstream pop star.  This is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  The album’s lyrical themes do just as much to support that statement as its musical arrangements.  They will be discussed a little bit later.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  It will also be examined later.  Each element is important in its own right to the whole of Small Town.  All things considered, they make Small Town a big success for Max Ater.

Max Ater’s forthcoming sophomore EP Small Town is a record that could, with the right support, make this up-and-coming pop-country singer-songwriter a big mainstream hit.  That is due in part to the musical arrangements presented throughout the five-song studio recording.  All five arrangements are just as radio ready as anything currently being churned out by his more well-known mainstream counterparts.  Case in point is the record’s opener and title track, which is a light, poppy tune that expertly walks the line between pop and country, almost blurring it in the process.  At times, it conjures thoughts of Darius Rucker because of that ability to cross that line.  At others, it lends itself slightly to works from Kenny Chesney while also lending itself just as easily to so many current Top 40 pop hits.  ‘Easy,’ the record’s lead single, is even more pop-centered than the record’s opener with its electronics, piano lead and driving choruses.  Solely in regards to this arrangement, it is an easy fit for any Top 40 station.  ‘Summer Next To You,’ is one of the EP’s most blatantly country-esque composition.  It lends itself easily to comparisons with Jake Owen, Brantley Gilbert and other similar acts.  Much the same can be said of the record’s finale, ‘Light Up This Town.’  ‘Stay A Little Longer,’ the EP’s mid-point walks that line, too, though it leans more in the country vein than the pop side.  Keeping in mind, the fact that these arrangements so easily lend themselves to Top 40 pop radio just as much as mainstream Country radio, there’s no denying that the arrangements alone show the big potential of Small Town.  Of course the records musical arrangements are, collectively, just one part of what makes Small Town stand out.  The EP’s lyrical themes are just as important to note in examining the record as its musical arrangements.

The lyrical themes presented in Small Town’s songs are relatively basic, and in turn are certain to appeal to a wide range of audiences.  Simply put, the disc’s themes focus on the theme of romantic relationships.  It’s that easy.  The record’s opener is one of those songs that is about love found.  That is obvious as Ater sings in the lead verse, “Standing on the front porch/Through the screen door/There’s you/There in the red dress…Good to see you, too/I’ve been waiting on a night like this/For so long/Put you in the front seat/Drive to the good beat/of your favorite song/tell me what you’re feeling/I wanna start healing/From a week gone long/I’ve been waiting for a night like this/For so long.”  This is a man who is letting his woman know how much he appreciates her.  Keeping that in mind, it’s sure to resonate with plenty of female listeners.  It goes on like this from there on, with Ater singing about wanting to kiss said woman and just be wither.  Again, this is certain to appeal easily to such a wide range of listeners.  It is a surprise that it hasn’t already resonated with any major Top 40 stations.  Moving on, ‘Summer Next To You’ is a more deeply emotional piece that comes across as a song of love lost.  That is inferred as Ater sings, “We were driving 95/Watching the world roll by…./When you turned to me with your crying eyes/Tell me baby, do you really realize/These are the last days of us?” It’s the polar opposite of the record’s opener.  Luckily, it is about as emotional as the EP gets over the course of its 17 minute run time.  ‘Light Up This Town’ and ‘Stay A Little Longer’ are more upbeat both musically and lyrically.  Keeping that in mind, the songs’ largely positive lyrical vibe, balanced with the one more emotional and contemplative moment (alongside ‘Easy’) give the EP overall even more mainstream accessibility.  Add that to the accessibility of the record’s musical arrangements, and again, listeners get a record that has every reason to be considered by any mainstream Top 40 and country music station.  The EP’s musical and lyrical content are only part of what makes it appealing.  The record’s sequencing joins those elements to show even more what makes the record radio ready.

The overall sequencing of Small Town speaks volumes in itself about Max Ater’s new EP.  It starts off on an upbeat note (no pun intended) before immediately pulling back in ‘Easy.’  The record’s energy picks back up just as quickly in ‘Stay A Little Longer’ before pulling back once more in ‘Summer Next To You.’  As the record reaches its finale, the energy picks right back up again.  Simply put, the energy is balanced expertly from start to finish.  It is never too reserved and never too upbeat for too long.  It shows that plenty of thought and time was put into the record’s sequencing.  When this is considered along with the obvious time and effort put into the record’s musical arrangements, and the accessibility of the record’s lyrical themes, the result is a record that proves Small Town could be a big success for Max Ater.

Small Town is a small offering from Max Ater, but given the right support, it could prove a big success for the up-and-coming pop-country artist.  That is proven in part through its radio ready, accessible musical arrangements.  All five arrangements expertly walk the line between pop and country.  What’s more, their sound easily lends them to comparisons to some very familiar names.  The lyrical themes presented throughout the record are just as accessible as the musical arrangements, proving even more the record’s appeal.  The sequencing puts the final touch to its presentation.  The balance in the songs’ energies makes the record just as appealing as its lyrical and musical content.  Each element is important in its own way to the whole of Small Town.  When they are combined together, they make Small Town a potentially big hit for Max Ater.  Small Town will be available Oct.  12 via Prudential Records.  More information on the EP is available online along with all of Ater’s latest news is available online at:










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Prudential Records To Release Max Ater’s Sophomore EP Next Month

Courtesy: Prudential Records

Singer-songwriter Max Ater will release his new EP next month.

Small Town is scheduled to be released October 12 via Prudential Records.  The five-song EP features, which features his current hit songs ‘Light Up This Town’ and  ‘Easy,’ can be pre-ordered online now via Amazon.

‘Easy’ can be streamed online now via Spotify.  The song’s video is streaming now via YouTube.

Ater talked about the creation of both singles in a recent interview, explaining each song has its own unique lyrical theme.

“I’d consider my crowning achievement as a songwriter so far to be my single, ‘Easy,'” Ater said.  “I wrote it at a really tough time in my life, and it’s a testament to what happens when I let my life flow onto paper, which is surprisingly rare to achieve.  This tune however, just came to me and watching [producer] Karl Anderson lay a unique musical foundation under the lyrics was the perfect way to wrap it all up.  Other tunes were much more time-consuming and downright challenging.  ‘Light Up This Town’ started in the studio with just a kick, snare and a simple piano line.  I knew the song would be a love song, but also an anthem to life in Maine.  Finding the story took months.  There are some tunes where I have had to look outside my life for inspiration and widen my perspective enough to absorb what I might not know.  It takes a surprising amount of brain power to find the perfect lyrics that have the promise of connecting with my fans.”

A native of Maine, the up-and-coming pop/country star claims artists, such as Norah Jones, Jamie Cullum and John Mayer as influences for his own work. He first rose to fame after winning his home state’s “Maine’s Got Talent!” competition.

He released his debut EP Up ‘Till Now in 2013. Three years later, Ater took the top spot in the “Maine’s Soundoff 2016” competition. Now he looks forward to the release of Small Town and the future.

More information on Small Town is available online now along with all of Max Ater’s latest news and more at:






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