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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In A Crowded Sea Of Pop Music, Ettinger’s New EP Is Sure To Float

Courtesy: Kayos Productions

This past June, independent up-and-coming singer songwriter Sevi Ettinger released her debut EP Salty Water to the masses.  The four-song EP has already started garnering attention for Ettinger with its pop sensibilities and lyrics to which listeners can easily relate.  Speaking more specifically, the record’s musical arrangements will especially appeal to fans of 90s pop stars Vanessa Carlton, Michelle Branch and other similar acts.  One could even argue that there is a hint of Selena Gomez among other current pop stars.  The combination of those elements makes this record a work that any pop fan will agree deserves at least one listen.  The EP’s closer, ‘Eyes’ is one of the songs that serves to support that statement.  ‘Live,’ the record’s second entry, supports that statement just as much as ‘Eyes.’  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Don’t Fall Behind’ is perhaps the strongest example of what makes the record as strong as it is for a first effort from Ettinger.  When they are considered along with the EP’s opener and title track, all four songs together make Salty Water a record that shows promise for Ettinger’s chances in a very crowded pop music field.

Sevi Ettinger’s debut EP Salty Water is a work that exhibits some promise for her future in what is one of the most crowded arms of the musical universe.  That is thanks to musical arrangements that will appeal to a wide range of pop music fans and lyrical themes that will reach just as many listeners.  The EP’s finale, ‘Eyes’ is just one of the songs included in the EP that serves to support that statement.  Tim Pierce’s simple guitar melody forms the foundation for the song.  Ettinger’s flowing vocal delivery alongside  Pierce’s work and Jeff Bova’s work with the song’s electronics strengthen that foundation even more to create an arrangement that is certain to become stuck in listeners’ ears and heads because of that simplicity all around.  The song’s heartfelt lyrical content, which seems to center on the beginnings of a romantic relationship (yes, there’s that topic again) couple with the song’s musical approach to make the song even more appealing for pop fans.

The seeming all-too-familiar romantic relationship topic is presented as Ettinger sings, “Sometimes’ it’s hard to find someone like you/I never knew that people like you existed/Pull me in, pull me out, pull me back in the circle/I never knew/That as dark as we are/There is light for us Somewhere/So open up your eyes/And tell me there’s meaning inside/Open up my eyes/And color outside the lines.”  She goes on to sing, “Sometimes it’s hard to find a light in this world/But with you by my side/nothing can stop us from sharing it.  From here, she reprises the song’s chorus to make up the remainder of the song.  It would seem pretty straight forward here, that Ettinger is writing of a relationship.  Given, it could center on something else, and if so, so be it.  Either way, the song’s simple melody and the heartfelt (and equally simple and heartfelt lyrics) work together to make the song in whole proof that this record is a solid start for Ettinger.  It is just one of the songs that supports that statement, in examining its music and lyrics.  ‘Live’ supports that statement just as much as ‘Eyes.’

‘Live’ presents a far purer pop arrangement than that of ‘Eyes’ with its combined electronics, acoustic/electric guitar and Ettinger’s vocal delivery.  The use of the keyboards and electronics harkens back to the likes of Ace of Base while also throwing out hints of more current acts.  It’s an interesting balancing act that somehow manages to work here.  That collective of musical elements is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content helps it to stand out just as much as its musical content.  In terms of its lyrical content, this song comes across as reminding listeners to make the most of life.  That is inferred as she sings, “Live while you can with those open eyes/’Cause you don’t know when you’ll stop/Live while you can/With those glowing eyes/’Cause you don’t know when you’ll drop/Daydream, daydream the things no one’s dreamt before/So others can daydream, too.”  The song continues in this same positive fashion.  That optimistic outlook crafted in the song’s overall lyrical presentation couples with the song’s upbeat musical arrangement to make it a work that will definitely put a smile on any listener’s face.  It’s a nice change of pace from so much pop music, considering the central theme of so many mainstream pop songs out there today.  Everyone knows what is being referenced there, so it will be left at that.  Keeping this in mind, that positive lyrical theme couples with the song’s musical arrangement to be another of the EP’s most standout offerings if not its best.  Even with that in mind, it is not the last of the EP’s most notable songs.  ‘Don’t Fall Behind’ is one more of the EP’s additions worth noting.

Musically speaking, ‘Don’t Fall Behind’ is another throwback to the pop sounds of the 90s, with its keyboard line and its hip-hop style beat and funk style guitar line.  That mid-tempo arrangement is sure to appeal to anyone who grew up in what was really the last great era of mainstream Top 40 bubblegum pop.  While it is certain to appeal to the noted audience by itself, it is only one part of what makes the song another standout addition to Ettinger’s new EP.  The song’s socially conscious lyrical content makes it stand out just as much as its musical arrangement.  Lyrically, it sounds like Ettinger is addressing the rift that has developed among Americans since the 2016 election.  That is inferred as she sings, “This world’s changing more than I/We have to step aside with open eyes/Go too far into the core/You’ll find yourself lost with fright/I’m not trying to hide/I’m just as tired/I’m just as patient/But I’m not waiting to burst/I’m just as hurt as anyone/The world is changing/Don’t fall behind.”  That mention of her being “just as tired” and “just as patient” really seems to point to a reaction to everything going on, as if she is saying she is tired of everything that’s happened, but patient for something positive.  That seeming statement gains even more traction in the song’s second verse as Ettinger sings, “Climb before it is too late/The spots are being filled by those who knew/Take the challenge to escape/That goal’s so common now/That it’s now okay.”  It’s as if Ettinger is encouraging listeners to climb from the hole that has been created by everything that has happened and to get out before it’s too late.  As always, this is just this critic’s own take on the song and should not be taken as gospel.  Ettinger could have been saying something entirely opposite of this interpretation.  Keeping that in mind, the discussions certain to be generated through these lyrics because of the depth of said content more than makes the song stand out even more.  To that end, the combination of the song’s lyrical content and its throwback 90s hybrid hip-hop/pop musical arrangement is sure to garner this song its own share of attention among listeners.  When it is considered along with ‘Eyes’ and ‘Live’ (and the EP’s title track), those songs in whole prove Salty Water a record that will float instead of sink.

Sevi Ettinger’s new EP Salty Water is an interesting new effort from the up-and-coming teen singer-songwriter.  That is due to musical arrangements that will certainly appeal to fans of 90’s mainstream pop sounds.  The record’s socially conscious lyrical themes are, collectively, something that will appeal to not only those noted fans, but pop fans in general.  That is especially the case considering the theme of so many mainstream pop songs.  This is exhibited in all three of the songs noted here, and even in the EP’s title track/opener.  Between those noted arrangements and the depth of the songs’ lyrical themes, the EP gives listeners plenty to appreciate.  Keeping that in mind, this 4-song, 16-minute record proves to be a record that will float instead of sink.  More information on Salty Water is available online now along with all of Ettinger’s latest news and more at:








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