Rock Super Group Takes Top Honors In Phil’s Picks’ 2020 Best New EPs

Courtesy: Wiretap Records

Another year has come and another year is almost gone.  Only a handful of weeks remain in this year, which means many record companies have already turned their focus to 2021.  Even with the record labels turning their attention to the new year, there is still work to be done this year.  The work in question is a look back at the best of the year’s new music.  For this critic, that look back starts at the smallest level, 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.  They include records released by labels and independently by the acts in question. 

Featured in this critic’s list of this year’s are new offerings from Hell or Highwater (which is fronted by Atreyu’s Brandon Saller), Another Day Dawns, and even independent artist Vast Caldera among others.  Topping this year’s list is an offering from the “super group” In Parallel.

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 2020.


  1. In Parallel – Fashioner
  2. Mark Morton – Ether
  3. Killswitch Engage – Atonement II: B-Sides For Charity
  4. Vast Caldera – Vast Caldera I
  5. Another Day Dawns – Stranger
  6. Hell or Highwater – Lost at Sonic Ranch
  7. Stabbing Westward – Dead and Gone
  8. Lord—Chaos Raining
  9. KB & The Idyllwilde – I Just Wanna Love You, I Just Wanna Let You
  10. The Run Around – Bombs Away
  11. Morgan Rose – Controlled Chaos
  12. Zero Theorum – The Killing: Part I
  13. Hold On Hollywood – Love Stories
  14. South of Eden – Talk
  15. The Jacks – Remember You

Next up from Phil’s Picks is the list of the year’s top new independent albums.  This year has produced some impressive new independent albums.  Stay tuned for that.

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The Run Around’s New EP ‘Bombs Away’ Anything But Bombs

Courtesy: Earshot Media

Up-and-coming punk rock outfit The Run Around released its first new studio recording in 11 years this month.  The Chicago, IL-based quintet released its EP Bombs Away March 14 independently.  The five-song record is the band’s first studio recording since the release of its 2009 LP Fight The Day. Its musical and lyrical content will appeal to fans of bands, such as Dropkick Murphys, Sum 41 and Bowling for Soup, the latter of which is scheduled to perform live alongside The Run Around Aug. 27 at Bottom Lounge in The Run Around’s hometown.  Tickets for that concert are available here.  The EP’s lead single and opener, which is also the record’s title track, is just one example of how that content makes this record so appealing.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘White Coats,’ the EP’s mid-point is another example of what makes the record stand out in this year’s field of new punk rock records.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Go Under,’ the EP’s closer is one more example of what makes the disc stand out.  It will also be discussed later.  Between this composition, the other noted songs, and the record’s other two offerings, the EP in whole proves itself to be a strong return for The Run Around, and hopefully not the band’s last release.  That is because it is one of this year’s top new EPs.

The Run Around’s first new studio recording in 11 years is a strong return for the up-and-coming punk rock band whose appeal is far-reaching, thanks to its collective musical and lyrical content.  The record’s opener/title track, which is also its lead single is just one example of what makes this record such an impressive return for The Run Around.  The song’s up-tempo musical arrangement lends itself to comparisons to the likes of Dropkick Murphys and Rancid.  One could even argue that a comparison to works from Sum 41 could be made, at least  in the way of that arrangement.  The infectious groove established in this song couples with the straight forward, no-nonsense sociopolitical commentary in its lyrical content to add to its impact.

Front man Jason Fein sings against the work of his band mates – Jason Enders (bass, vocals), Fabian Falcon (guitar, vocals), Mario Sanchez (guitar) and Mike Curran (drums) – “Little Tommy’s gun a gun/He’s not gonna shoot anyone/Sick of this carousel/There’s only one way out when it goes to hell/And when it comes, too/All that we’ll go through/Does not mean a thing/When war mongers control our brains/No future/No desire/We are drowning/But we’re too close to the fire/Bombs away/It’s just an ordinary day/In the U.S. of A./Say/No way/We contradict your politics/And the grand old GOP.”  The song’s second verse is difficult to decipher without a lyrics sheet to reference. However, in the refrain of the song’s chorus, Fein and his band mates change things up slightly, stating, “We contradict your politics and the redneck NRA.”  Considering this and everything in the song’s lead verse, the message in this song comes across as being pretty clear.  Fein adds in the song’s third verse that, “we must ride this wave or go down in punk rock glory” before returning to the chorus once more, adding, “Where the hell’s our liberty?…We say no way.”  Again, the lyrical content leaves little doubt as to its statement.  This is a commentary about the state of the nation.  Given, it will appeal mainly to those who are anything but Republicans, but to those audiences in question, it will certainly find its ears.  The urgency in the song’s musical arrangement adds to the fire in the song’s lyrical content to make the song in whole, a work that is a strong start for Bombs Away and an equally strong first impression for the band in its return.  The song is just one of the EP’s most notable works.  ‘White Coats’ does its own share to show the EP’s strength.

‘White Coats’ presents a musical arrangement that once again, is pure punk rock.  As with the EP’s opener, this up-tempo, guitar-driven work, with its solid time keeping is another work that lends itself to comparisons to works from Dropkick Murphys.  That is especially the case through Fein’s vocal delivery.  It instantly lends itself to the vocal delivery style of DKM vocalist Al Barr.  The simple, yet infectious hooks, which feature band simply singing “whoah” even are instantly comparable to DKM’s work.  The same can be said of the guitar solo in the song’s bridge.  That driving arrangement joins with the song’s straight-forward commentary in its lyrical content to make the song all the more powerful.

Fein sings in the song’s lead verse, “Wake up, baby/It’s the weekend/And we’re never gonna be … again/So let go/Of control/It’s too much stress for one to handle/You know it/We know it/Let the past be the past/You can’t wait for it/Tonight our enemy will be the sunrise/Haters gonna hate on what they don’t know.”  He and his band mates continue in the song’s second verse, “Mr. policeman/Put down the weapon/Please don’t shoot/We’re only drinking/Let go/Of control…we promise we won’t tell/One night/So live life/You know it/We know it/The past is the past/You can’t wait for it.” Of course Fein and company are not saying that drinking and driving is okay here.  The choice of words might have been better.  However, the bigger picture here is that the song’s message comes across relatively clearly.  The message inferred is that we should make the most of our lives.  This argument is strengthened even more as Fein sings in the song’s chorus, “Forget the bastards/And those who bring us down/Tonight, we’ll live life…when the white coats come/To take us all away/Sanity is just your favorite blue pill away.”  That line about sanity being our favorite blue pill away and the men in white coats coming to take us away enhances the song’s overall message about making the most of life.  It is as if Fein is saying that we are going crazy as a nation, and we need to just live our lives, making the best of every day.  That might account for the note of the blue pills and the men in white coats.  Keeping that in mind along with the playful, lighthearted vibe in the song’s arrangement, the song does an admirable job of translating that seeming message.  Looking at the seeming message and music, and that of the EP’s opener, it is clear that this record certainly has substance both musically and lyrically.  That substance does not end with these two songs.  Rather it continues in the EP’s closing number, ‘Go Under.’

‘Go Under’ is, musically, a very accessible song for audiences with its radio ready musical arrangement.  The harmonies established through the guitars, bass and vocals couple with the solid time keeping to make this song at least musically, this EP’s most radio ready work.  It’s just one part of what makes the song so accessible.  The song’s lyrical content, which centers on the all-too-familiar topic of a broken relationship.

Fein sings in the song’s lead verse, “Let’s start at the part/I broke your heart/You told me that you loved me/Right before I fell apart/Never meant for this/Bliss and happiness/Came with the yard and the white picket fence/I bit off my tongue/So you’d never drink alone/Blew off my friends/Pretend that we weren’t home/Now I’m the one/You scream when I call/All is far is love and war/Always my fault.”  He makes mention in the song’s chorus of things going to hell, which signals yet again, that matter of the relationship going south relatively fast.  He adds during the chorus, “I was your lightning/You were my thunder/Never really looked at another//When the lightning crashed/There was no more thunder/Life goes on/Then we go under.”  The song’s second verse is very similar in its approach, continuing that story of the broken relationship.  Between that clear presentation made in the verse and chorus, the song’s lyrical content translates quite well.  Coupled with the infectious musical content, the song in whole is a wise choice for a single, and could be that work that breaks the band into the mainstream, what with that accessibility.  Considering the strength of this song, the others discussed here and the rest of the EP’s entries, the whole of the 16-minute record proves to be a positive return for The Run Around and that is easily one of this year’s top new EPs.

The Run Around’s newly released EP Bombs Away is a record that explodes with so much substance, both in terms of its musical and lyrical content.  It is a work that will appeal to purist punk rock fans as well as those of the more mainstream stuff.  That is evident from the record’s opening to its end.  Keeping that in mind, this EP is a solid return for The Run Around and hopefully just the new beginning for this punk rock outfit.  The EP is available now.  More information on Bombs Away is available now along with all of The Run Around’s latest news at:









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