EVIL OWL – Evil Owl EP

Not to be confused with the independent progressive rock band from Finland, the UK Evil Owl are hard, retro and grubby. On their self-titled EP from 2018, this Bristolian trio take the garage rock base of Brockley Forest and load it with the kind of distortion and arty noise that fuelled the Sonic Youth classics ‘Sister’ and ‘Evol’ and throw in a few influences from Mudhoney and Tad for good measure. The result is a genuine blast of guitar driven anger – four songs with a retro heart but also loaded with a timeless, fuzzy appeal.

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THE RUN UP – Good Friends, Bad Luck EP

The Run Up are five friends from Bristol, always ready to bring the world big riffs and bigger choruses. Their brand of pop-punk is tougher than most, but within the riffs comes a fantastic sense of all things melodic, always allowing great hooks to catch the listener. Their debut album, a self-titled affair from 2017, presented a solid half hour’s worth of material but, if anything, this follow up EP is even better. The short format suggests the band have really streamlined their approach and decided to only share the very best tracks this time around.

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BROCKLEY FOREST – Castaway EP

When Brockley Forest released their ‘Die Has Been Cast’ EP in 2015, it felt as if the band had reached a turning point. While the raw garage blues of their previous releases still provided the heart of their music, the EPs songs showed a leaner, meaner Forest – slightly more commercial without selling out; by providing bigger hooks on bigger songs, they really stretched their musical talents.  Following a long gap between releases, Brockley Forest’s welcome return with 2018’s ‘Castaway’ is a step forward yet again. The production values on these three songs are terrific. Far removed from a garage based labour of love, the material has as much punch as that Royal Blood LP you all love – even though there are better exponents of that style – and the choruses are more than sizable.

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STORMTROOPER – Pride Before A Fall: The Lost Album

stormtrooper lpFor British hard rock and metal fans over a certain age, the late 70s and early 80s will always come with a certain rose-tinted viewpoint. Between 1979-82, as part of a scene dubbed as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, there were a whole slew of superb bands that made their breakthrough. Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Saxon and Diamond Head are unquestionably the most successful from that time, but other bands like Angelwitch, Praying Mantis and Gaskin scored some well deserved success.

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