Tag Archives: Beat The Heart

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.

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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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ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: BEAT THE HEART

One thing I love about the Internet is the fact that it’s so easy to get a global perspective on everything; art, history, news, etc. I especially love the fact that it’s opened people up to the music that they would never have heard before. The larger-than-life bands that make it big and become international are one thing, but no one ever thinks about the bands in the smaller scenes. All over the world, these smaller artists work their hardest to be heard, and finally, with this generation, they can be.

Hailing from Stockhold, indie-rock act Beat The Heart comes as a refreshing surprise. Consisting of two pairs of brothers, Nicolas (vox/guitar) and Kim Flemström (synth/vox), Andreas (drums) and Johan (lead guitar) Veronese, and bass player Filip Wästberg, the group crashes in with a unique sound that will make listeners grin from the opening notes.

Old school mates, Nicolas and Andreas met as young children, later joined by Fillip in junior high. Noticing that they shared a lot of musical enjoyments, the boys began to play music together. “Actually, me, Nicolas, and Andreas got together once in the music room at school and played a couple of songs by an old Swedish punk legend. It was really bad,” laughs Fillip.

Once in high school, the trio got together again, playing songs Nicolas had written. In 2013, John joined the group on the guitar (later followed by Kim on synth and backing vocals), and Beat The Heart was formed.

The band recently released a music video for the title track of their EP, Waiting For a Sequel (check out the review HERE), which you can watch below.

The video was shot over two days, while Beat The Heart was still recording the upcoming EP. “It is a privilege to record music in such a beautiful place, and it was something we wanted to capture in the video. Making music involves both highs and lows and sometimes when everything goes wrong you want to be reminded of the best moments of being in a band. We wanted the video to invite the viewer to share the joy we feel when we play music. Despite differing opinions, power outages and broken guitars we always end up in how great it is to create music together. We hope this postcard from the studio manages to reflect that feeling,” Fillip explains.

Let Planet Stereo know how the music video made you feel and what you think of Beat The Heart in the comment section below!

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REVIEW: Beat The Heart – Waiting For a Sequel EP

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Sequels get a pretty bad rap. Everyone thinks the sequel is never as good as the original, or that it destroys the image of the first one. Granted, film history has shown this to be true many a time, but Beat The Heart may just change the connotation of the word “sequel” with their new EP, Waiting For a Sequel.

The EP kicks off with “Like Marylou,” which slowly seems to fade in, building in character, much as a person would do; that’s the best way to describe this song. It is like meeting a person for the first time; it starts off shy and slow and then opens up, becoming familiar, with traits that stand out. Despite its quiet tone, there is a power that is impossible to ignore in this track, whether that be found in the perfectly executed vocals or the stunning instrumentation developed throughout. Either way, this is five minutes of your day very well-spent.

“Hymn For Fools” is entrancing from the get-go. Lyrically, the song is likened to poetry; a sonnet written in good faith that these words will be taken for the truth, with all the beauty that was intended. While the initial vibe of the song is indie, there is an edge of pop-punk that slips in, and the stoke along a guitar that whispers similarities to a power chord often struck in classic 80s rock. More impressive than that is the melody that is contained in the track, rounding it out to a poised-for-radio track. Of course, “Hymn for Fools” is followed by a song that easily rivals it for emotional depth. “Since You Came” is a strikingly simple addition to Waiting For a Sequel. Despite its minimalistic style, this song may inspire the most imagery and theatrics, matching it perfectly to the EP’s title. If I were entirely honest, I dare say that this is my favorite within the collection. The simple nature manages to be moving and bold with a contradicting shyness.

Closing out the EP with its title track, Beat The Heart seemed to have saved their most energetic tune for last. If this doesn’t garner play on the airwaves of an indie station, it would be a crime. This is the epitome of indie/rock with such an original, almost tangent energy to it, each line will find listeners continually in awe; the perfect, cinematic ending to an entertaining EP.

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