TITLE: Long Road Ahead
BAND: Just Like Giants
RELEASED: May 11th 2014
A little while ago, I reviewed this Southampton four-piece’s debut EP Take It Back and said glowing things about it. Since then, another EP has dropped and it was only natural that I spend a bit of time listening to three more kick-ass pop-punk tunes from Just Like Giants. Both EPs are available for free on their Bandcamp page and if you love British pop-punk, then you’re bound to love these guys, so give them a listen.
Long Road Ahead retains the high energy pop-punk style from their first EP with a more mature slant in certain areas. The catchy riffs and upbeat rhythms are still there but the vocals have grown and are now performing much more impressive runs. The new EP begins with Taking Chances, which features singing metallic riffs and strong drums shaped around a very catchy melody. It’s a perfect summer party track with a growling guitar pushing its way through the din and the high energy thrown into the song masks the fact that the lyrics tell a sad story about a relationship coming to an end.
The middle track, Don’t Let Go, has loud crashing drums and a pretty melody that will no doubt stick in your ears like glue. It’s a classic pop-punk track that allows the guitars to tear through the vocals which provide a great sing-a-long sound that is perfect for a live performance. The harmonies on the chorus are on point and add a new developed sound to the vocals, which gives Don’t Let Go more depth. Every band member pulls together and gives 100% energy to the track, which turns it into a real crowd-pleaser.
Finishing off with Afterparty, the vocals take on a passionate desperate feel underneath the rippling singing riff and thumping drums. The catchy melody has a soft swaying rhythm that gives it a chilled-out character while the strong-willed guitars keep the track spinning. The layered harmonies at the end are an unexpected and unique twist that allows the EP to go out with a flourish.
Just Like Giants have clearly focused on their energetic, live-show numbers which does see them sacrifice a little of the emotion that was felt on Take It Back. They are great at doing both styles, so it would have been nice to have a ballad on Long Road Ahead amongst all the chaos that a pop-punk album normally brings. However, it is still a great EP that will no doubt be enjoyed by fans of their debut and by those who have enjoyed their live shows.
AUTHOR: Anthony Ergo
PUBLISHED: July 12th 2014
My first contact with Liverpool writer and musician Anthony Ergo was when he followed me on Twitter after I mentioned that I would be attending London’s first ever YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention). He was releasing his debut novel Dystopia at the event and I knew that I would have to pick up a copy. As an added bonus to a music and book blogger, Anthony was selling his band’s EP I Can See You Now with the book, so naturally I bought both!
Dystopia is a paranormal adventure story with a strong-willed female protagonist, Sasha Hunter who seems to be constantly stalked by bad luck. On her thirteenth birthday, Dystopia Day occurs. The whole world blacks out for thirteen seconds to catastrophic results and Sasha’s mother disappears. Three years on, the world is still recovering and Sasha discovers secrets about her father’s mysterious line of work and the trouble he is about to find himself in. Driven by loyalty to her father and a burning curiosity to delve deeper into a strange hidden world of darkness and danger, Sasha uncovers powers of her own and begins to put together a picture of who she really is.
Sasha is definitely one of the most likeable female protagonists that I’ve come across in YA literature in a long time. She is insecure and naive but passionate and focused. A self-confessed loner who suffers with severe asthma, Sasha is a very real girl dealing with her real problems within the bizarre world in which she is thrown into. Having a female lead in a dystopian who isn’t the picture of health is really refreshing. Not only does she have to deal with the dangerous supernatural beings that she encounters but the fact that something as simple as shortage of breath could kill her gives her a vulnerability that is easier for some readers to tap into than a perfectly fit, intelligent girl that is so common in YA dystopians. It was also really great to read a novel written by a man with a female lead that has both beauty and brains!
For most of the book, there are hints of a love triangle about to take place between Sasha and her father’s co-workers Aaron and Zara. The final chapter reveals that this triangle isn’t about to continue through the series though, which sets it apart from other novels in the genre. A common trope of YA fiction is budding romance and conflict around that. Although Dystopia has the growing love between Sasha and Aaron, by the end you realise that their relationship is no longer under any threat and so it is left to blossom, tying it up very neatly before the action continues into the second book. Both Aaron and Zara are great characters -Aaron is a gym-loving teenager with a big ego but the power to understand the feelings and emotions of others, while Zara is yet another strong-minded girl who gets things done and doesn’t take any nonsense with the useful skill of being able to see into the future. The dynamics between the two of them and Sasha is one of great friendship and they can use and play off each other’s strengths. At the end of the book, you get the sense of a great familial bond between them that hope doesn’t break.
Dystopia is full of selfless believable characters in a fast-paced plot with plenty of tension and the odd twist every now and then. Think of it as Supernatural in a YA setting. Fighting evil to save the innocent and solving the mystery that was Dystopia Day alongside a likeable cast is a ride that you won’t want to get off of and as the sequel Hysteria is out in October, you won’t have to be off for long!
It has been a while since I introduced a new band but there’s no better way to jump right back in than with Only The Young. Those who know me will know that I love a slice of pop every now and then and this is exactly what this group of youngsters are about. Blending smooth harmonies with the musical talent to give them an edge over other manufactured pop groups, Only The Young could well be on their way to some serious heights.
They may be fresh-faced and wide-eyed at present but these guys are a long way from just pretty faces, autotunes and techno beats that normally come with upcoming pop artists. They’re raw, handy with a guitar or two and hungry for what is ahead of them. On top of that, all four have great natural voices!
I was first contacted about them with regard to their success at Capital’s Summertime Ball where they were picked by Vodafone to play to a packed Wembley Stadium. Achieving a huge honour like that at such an early stage in their career sets them up for big things. The excited teens have documented their journey to the world-famous stadium and the biggest show of their lives in a video which you can watch below.
Made up of cute-looking boyband types Charlie and Mikey along with some powerful songstresses Parisa and Betsy, Only The Young have an infectious style and a lot of likeability that will sit well in the current pop industry. We’ve been inundated with both boybands and girlbands of late and lacking in good mixed-gender pop groups since the glory days of Steps and S Club, so they’ve come around at just the right time.
The London four-piece were put together by the creators of Black Heart hitmakers Stooshe in late 2012 and they’ve since blessed the internet with covers of chart-topping pop classics such as a pretty impressive mash-up of One Republic’s Counting Stars and Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball which is the perfect introduction to this exciting new name. Watch this space because I think we’re witnessing the rise of the next big pop band.
BAND: No Devotion
LABEL: Collect Records
RELEASED: July 1st 2014
After the infamous Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins’ child pornography saga, which saw him jailed for 35 years, the remaining members of the band regretfully announced that Lostprophets’ fifteen year career was officially over. However, guitarists Lee Gaze and Mike Lewis, bassist Stuart Richardson, keyboardist Jamie Oliver and drummer Luke Johnson have risen from the ashes of their former band and joined Geoff Rickly of New Jersey post-hardcore band Thursday. The new creation is now known as No Devotion and they’ve just released their debut single Stay.
Channelling some classic rockers such as The Cure and Joy Division, the new sound is somewhat different from the alternative sound of Lostprophets. Geoff Rickly admits that he’d never listened to Lostprophets but felt that the band deserved another chance. Stuart Richardson said of the new project:
“We didn’t know what else to do. We just wrote music. I didn’t know if anyone would ever want to hear it, I didn’t know if anyone would ever hear it. I just needed to occupy my brain. We just needed this.”
Stay has some truly atmospheric synths and a throbbing beat that climaxes to an explosive chorus. Geoff’s vocals are the perfect match for the powerful emotional track, as they seem to soar above the steady riffs and crashing drums. A touch of 30 Seconds To Mars is also there which marks the big step away from their past. It’s the perfect song to yell at the top of your voice when you need to let out some angst which is exactly what the band seem to be doing.
Hear their new work for the first time by catching them on their short four-date tour at the end of the month beginning in Cardiff at the CF10 on July 22nd, moving to Manchester’s Sound Control on July 23rd, London’s Islington Academy on the 25th and ending at Glasgow’s ABC on the 26th.
Listen to Stay right here!