Tag Archives: Arc & Stones

Top 15 EPs of 2014

2014 had a lot of great albums, but what about all those EPs? People tend to let smaller releases slip by unnoticed, but at Planet Stereo, the phrase, “nice things come in small packages,” is muttered throughout the year. (…that may be partly because I’m only 5’2″, but hey! It’s a valid argument!) Here are the Top 15 EPs of 2014. Here’s hoping 2015 brings some good ones too!

 

1. Savannah by Nick Santino – released December 19th, 2014.

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A quality EP that displays both artistry and originality throughout. There is pure character in each track, which gives Savannah  a cinematic quality/value. The stripped down sound provides a quiet, almost hushed tone that carries a lofty emotional weight.

2. Waiting For a Sequel by Beat The Heart – released on May 6th, 2014.

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The epitome of indie/rock. There is an almost tangent energy to the EP, fusing together a cinematic, melodic style with the ballad worthy attitude of the 80s.

3. Strangers In Fairyland by Jocelyn Arndt – released October 27th, 2014.

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Jocelyn Arndt perfectly delivers wit and attitude, wrapped up in raw power. It’s a debut EP that showcases the pure talent of Arndt and an effortless mystery behind it all.

4. Sweet Talk by Sinclair – released on November 4th, 2014.

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From the opening notes of Sweet Talk, it is obvious there is something very special about Sinclair. I had said in my review that I believed there was a star in the making; that this wasn’t a debut, “this is an explosion,” and I stand by that.

5. It’s So Much Friendlier With Two by The Millenium – released on February 23rd, 2014.

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“[A] memorable EP. The effort and talent put into just five tracks shines through in every line, but, in a surprising twist, it doesn’t sound forced. This EP flows organically and sounds like the product of a group of very creative people collaborating. One listen, and The Millenium are difficult to forget, not that you’d want to. If this EP is anything to go by, we should all be expecting big things from this group in 2015. ”

6. Nonvesations by Summon The Octopi – released on November 17th, 2014.

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“Summon The Octopi have figured out how to do something many modern artists would deem impossible: they have managed to speak to listeners without having the need of a voice on every song. There is a true originality to every track, speaking for Nonversations, marking it as more than a debut EP, but more as a launch station for a talented group of musicians. ”

7. As You Were by Arc & Stones – released on June 10th, 2014.

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“The more I listen to As You Were, the more I want to see a tour with Arc & Stones and Thirty Seconds To Mars headlining the bill. The EP is an instant classic, and, considering this is the first time I’ve ever listened to Arc & Stones, a perfect introduction. As far as first impressions go, the band has left a fine one on me, and I look forward to hearing what they come up with next.”

8. Commonweather by Commonweather – released on November 25th, 2014.

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“Chicago is known for being home to some of the best artists, especially in the alternative rock arena, but even hailing from such a city, it is a rarity to hear a band that sounds so developed, and so confident in their sound on an EP. Just listening to Commonweather’s EP, it is obvious that we will see big things from them soon, because they already have enough quality in their work to compete with some of their more experienced counterparts. I, for one, cannot wait to see the results.”

9. Nikos by Nikos – released on October 21st, 2014.

NIKOS EP

As an introduction to the band, it is a wonderful preview at where they are headed, and how certain they are in their sound already. Their self-titled EP is delightfully melodic, energetic, and hauntingly brilliant.

10. All In My Head by Seaway – released on November 4th, 2014.

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“As a debut, All In My Head is pretty much close to perfection, showcasing what Seaway is capable of musically, lyrically, and even style-wise. It is refreshing to hear a group who so obviously knows the direction they plan to take with their career, without imitating their icons.”

11. Thieves & Lovers by Thieves & Lovers – released on September 23rd, 2014

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“Thieves & Lovers are fiercely talented, seemingly avoiding the over-produced quality that so many artists seem to be floating towards these days. With their self-titled EP, the band definitely stands out, and leaves listeners waiting for a full-length album.”

12. I Woke Up by Nominee – released on October 14th, 2014.

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Nominee’s sophomore release is wonderfully original; a well-made addition to the band’s discography. The EP had an irresistible style, with a dynamic and infectious attitude that further emphasizes the overall quality.

13. Balloons by Ruby My Dear – released on October 14th, 2014.

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There is a soulful beauty to this EP, and every track had something to offer. The music and lyrics of Balloons work together, fitting like pieces of a puzzle; there is not the typical competition of which will win the heart of the listener.

14. At Night by Choir Vandals – released on October 27th, 2014.

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Between the mixture of emotional intensities, explosions of raw power, and a brooding undertone, Choir Vandals are the musical Heathcliffs of the scene…if, you know, stages could stand in the moors. The intricacy of their sophomore EP makes them one to watch.

15. HEART by Alexz Johnson – released on February 18th, 2014.

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“One thing I really enjoy about HEART is the raw, melodic tone each track has. Unwaveringly honest and powerful, this EP encourages listeners to not only sing along, but to feel what is being sang about. Alexz Johnson is an artist who has a very recognizable voice, and her songwriting rivals some of the greats. HEART is more than an EP; it is a statement. It might say different things to different people, but one thing is undeniable: whatever it’s saying is coming through loud and clear.”

 

 HONORABLE MENTIONS

The Acoustic EP by Jake Furia

Move Now by Marshall Crenshaw

Lucy Scholl by Lucy Scholl

Chemistry by Plaid Brixx 

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REVIEW: Arc & Stones – As You Were EP

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In today’s music industry, musicians must wear many hats; they have to be talented (not in all cases, but generally), marketable, and they have to be able to command a room. If a musician cannot demand attention and pull people towards them, their careers suffer. From the minute Arc & Stones’s As You Were kicked off, it commanded my attention, and I would be hard pressed to even attempt multi-tasking while listening to this EP.

“Control” is loud and fierce. I found myself in complete awe of how well Arc & Stones really melded multiple genres together, and put together a track that will have listeners entranced. I can imagine this being played on the teaser trailer for a hot, dramatic television show. I have been listening to a lot of “classics” with the 1001 Songs Challenge, and as I listen to introductory anthem of As You Were, I daresay this has the potential to be as much of a classic as many of the songs in that book. “Sweet & Vicious” follows later with a very similar classic-rock-feel. There is a definite power to the song. I found myself impressed by the subtle, but strong addition of the bass throughout the track; its undertones, contributed by Eddy Bayes, alongside the guttural vocals round each line out to perfection. The final track, “Caught On Fire,” once again draws on the rock that dominated in the 70s onwards. With simple melodies, steady beats, and lots of rhythm overall, this song sparks like a fire, before igniting in the chorus.

Even at my most cynical, I love a good love song, and in essence, that is what “Walkin’ In” is. I love the Nashville drawl of Dan Pellarin’s vocals on this track. More than that, it’s the pure rock and roll vibe of the single that packs such a punch. When a song like this builds, until the drums seem to come crashing in (courtesy of Joe Doino), and the vocals build, and then an epic guitar solo from Ben Cramer, you’d be crazy not to fall in love with it.

Following with a very similar 90s vibe, “Wanted” is like a tempting whisper. There is something so provocative about this song; it’s enticing and pulls you in. If anything, I would say this leaves a huge impression on what to expect from Arc & Stones. Pellarin travels into some falsetto at one point during the song, and I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t impressed.

If you want to talk about impressive, the amount of attitude packed into “Too Late” is incredible. With booming, arena-worthy vocals, accompanied by impeccably timed instrumentals; fast-paced music contrasting with a slower lyrical flow creates a wonderful sound that rounds out As You Were. 

The more I listen to As You Were, the more I want to see a tour with Arc & Stones and Thirty Seconds To Mars headlining the bill. The EP is an instant classic, and, considering this is the first time I’ve ever listened to Arc & Stones, a perfect introduction. As far as first impressions go, the band has left a fine one on me, and I look forward to hearing what they come up with next.

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