This Week’s Top Picks – 2nd November

Ben Howard – The Burgh Island EP

This image shows the cover of Ben Howard's The Burgh Island EP, which is a black and white stormy image. You’d be forgiven for thinking Ben Howard had been around for years if you listened to his music. But he hasn’t. In fact, he only really started to hit it off with fans just over a year ago. His debut album, Every Kingdom, reflected this new popularity, peaking at number 6 in the UK and doing almost as well countries across the world.

His newest EP deserves just as much success.  It (an in particular Esmerelda) has a much darker tone. Its stormy and eerie melodies encapsulate you in the world of Ben perfectly, taking you to a place that’s super relaxing, yet a tad weird. The music has clearly grown and developed too, with instruments being used to blend and mould with his spine tingling vocals in the most interesting of ways. Sections are reminiscent of Every Kingdom, and this is particularly relevant to To Be Alone. It’s not quite as dark as the others and shows that this EP is a brilliant way of bridging his debut album with whatever is coming next. If winter had a sound, it may very well be this collection of tracks. And it works beautifully. It’s almost ironic too, that an EP which seeps with spooky and mysterious melodies should have been released on Halloween!

He’ll be playing at Lincoln’s very own Engine Shed later this month, on the 20th. You can check out his Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.

Lower Lands – Socialise With Closed EyesThis image shows the cover of Lower lands' single cover. it shows two cartoon skeletons against a purple and green background

Lincoln’s alternative rock band Lower Lands have been going from strength to strength since their debut a couple of years ago. They’re fresh off a tour with Hawthorne Heights, and in the past have shared a stage with bands like Deaf Havana. This year also saw them getting signed to I Am Mighty Records.

They released their newest single, Socialise With Closed Eyes, on Wednesday. And it’s an absolute cracker. The guitar riffs at the start are an awesome way to kick it off and set the upbeat tone of the song, and when they starts belting out their vocals, they’re nothing short of beautiful. They entwine some light, catchy melodies with some proper rock voices in a superb way to produce a tune you’ll instantly fall in love with. It’s really upbeat, feel-good rock and is a definite improvement on their older stuff, with a slightly less heavy tone that makes it super friendly to willing ears.

It could easily be mistaken that they’d been making music for much longer than the short time that they actually have been, and whilst they are fairly unique, it’d be fair to say they produce music to the quality and style of bands like Lostprophets.

You can read our new interview with the band here. Alternatively, check out their Facebook, or follow them on Twitter


Matt Cardle – The Fire

This image shows Matt Cardle looking away from the camera against an orange background. After what could only be described as a whirlwind of year following the release of his debut album, Letters, X-Factor winner Matt Cardle has released his second album, The Fire. He parted with his original record label earlier in the year, but this has had nothing more than a positive effect on his music. He sounds happier and almost less restrained on this album, and that’s probably because he was given full control of the writing and production.

Lead single It’s Only Love shows this. It’s catchy and quite different to the Matt we heard in Letters. You can tell instantly that this is the music he’s meant to make. It’s flooded with passion and attention to detail to a degree that makes for listening heaven. There’re also a few slightly more emotional and deep sounding songs on the album. All that matters, for example has a very sad feel to it, with lyrics like ‘I just pray somebody loves you, somebody somewhere, cause I can’t hear you cry, not one second more, it’s killing me.’ Yet because of the notes that Matt can reach, it’s hauntingly nice, and in an odd way, soothing. Another track worth mentioning, because of the rocky turn taken, is bonus track Your Somebody. Matt’s voice is really raw and heavy in this track, and it doesn’t rely on his high notes in the way many of the others do. This just proves how diverse of a singer Matt really is, and also how much he’s grown and come on since his X-Factor days

For more info on Matt, you can take a peek at his Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.

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