This week’s edition of ‘New Releases Round-Up’ features the talents of local singer-songwriter, ‘David Ochrombel’, ‘Ricky Fleming’, a Leeds-based singer-songwriter, and indie-poppers ‘Ashfields’.
First up is ‘Great Walls’ by ‘David Ochrombel’, an EP that was released earlier this year and was recorded/mixed at ‘ROFL Studios’ in Nottingham – a good bit of local promotion eh? The EP opens with ‘East & West’, a confessional song that showcases Ochrombel’s rough-and-ready voice, which has a touch of Springsteen about it. A mix of clean guitars and fluid basslines, all performed by Ochrombel himself, give the song a laid-back feel that eases the listener into ‘Great Walls’. His lyrics are personal and draw parallels between self-imposed barriers and the physical ones separating us all, hence the title. ‘Lolita’ follows and deploys a blues-based sound, showing Ochrombel’s diversity as a writer. The guitars are gritty and the bass bubbles below, whilst the drums give the song a swagger that John Travolta would love to strut along to. The lyrical theme sees him detailing the street life of the infamous, literary temptress, and uses the metaphor of a ‘.44 gun’ to personify the dangerous man she’s pursuing. It’s this honest approach to writing that makes ‘Great Walls’ so endearing and is heard once again on ‘Hometown Dreams’, a song which slows things down a bit with the strum of an acoustic guitar and thudding piano chords. The song would be a perfect homage to 1970s classic rock but soon incorporates a processed drum beat, showing the blend of old and new in Ochrombel’s compositional skills. A bluesy solo with slap-back reverb works nicely and brings the song to a nice close. ‘I Wish I Knew’ also features an acoustic guitar and flows on nicely from the previous song. The rootsy style of the song is reminiscent of U2’s 1987 Americana-influenced album, ‘The Joshua Tree’. The light jangle of the acoustic guitar complements the soft piano chords and simple bass line really well, all of which provide an excellent backdrop for that rich voice to shine through. The EP closes with ‘Coffee’, a mid-tempo ballad that provides a nice ending to this collection of songs. Some ethereal guitar parts and sweeping synth lines give a cinematic feel to the song and the crisp drums, courtesy of Pete Sen, are simple yet effective. The song runs for 6 minutes and has all the hallmarks of a closing song; slow build-up, extended guitar solo and an interesting mid-song key change. All of the guitars drop out, leaving the drums bare to play their last few bars, which recalls Bowie’s opening ‘Ziggy’ statement on ‘Five Years’. A humble end to a great début and credit to ‘ROFL Audio’ as the production is glorious on this EP. If you want more from the man, you can catch David on his tour, which is currently making its way around the Midlands.
The second EP featured in this weeks ‘New Releases Round-Up’ is ‘We Could Be More‘ by ‘Ricky Fleming‘, a Leeds-based musician who kicked up quite a storm at our Open Mic showcase the other week. The EP showcases Ricky’s blend of acoustic guitar and pop-infused melodies, heard on the opening title track, which is an exercise in funky guitar and melodic rapping. A lyric about just being seen as ‘the black Ed Sheeran’ shows Fleming’s self-awareness as a modern singer-songwriter. An interpolation of R. Kelly works really well and is sure to have any pop music fan grinning. The catchy chorus is utilised well and contains a few good hooks . ‘Locked’ follows and is a perfect example of Fleming’s soulful singing and fluid musicianship, featuring a funky rhythm that James Brown would be happy to call his own. The outro has an extended jam, where all of the band can strut their stuff. Ricky slows things down a bit for the third song, ‘In Our Nature’, which cruises along nicely behind a breezy drumbeat and some passionate vocals from the man himself. A dash of warm harmonies and personal lyrics makes this just the kind of song that an independent film could use – listen up all you Tarantinos wannabes! ‘We Could Be More’ closes with ‘Drifting On’, another funky number with some jerky stop-start moments. An impressive guitar solo occupies the middle section and leads nicely into a breakdown section, where Fleming can give his voice a chance to be heard bare. I was impressed with Ricky Fleming when I saw him perform acoustically but enjoy his sound with a backing band even more, as the songs are given some interesting arrangements. This sets Fleming apart from his peers as he’s willing to broaden his horizons beyond the stereotype of ‘deep singer-songwriter who plays an acoustic guitar’. The EP is testament to this and Fleming’s personality shines through and becomes a major selling point. It’s a self-released project and is being promoted right now with Fleming making appearance all over the UK. Be sure to follow him, just don’t click on his official site – unless you want some jeans!
Third and final on the billing is ‘Ashfields’ and their latest EP ‘New Skin’. The five-piece kick things off with ‘Save Me’, which has a harmonious vocal opening. Lead singer and local mononym, Dev, sings with much passion and sits nicely in the mix. His guttural tone offers a bit of grit to proceedings and is backed up by a wash of hazy guitars and a bouncy rhythm section, courtesy of bassist Josh Pickering and Josh Boam behind the kit. ‘Ashfields’ follow things up with ‘Eclipse’, another slice of bouncy indie pop. The soft-loud dynamic is utilised well on this cut, as guitarists Carl Kynaston and Thomas Cotterill get their money’s worth on their distortion pedals for the chorus. A funky disco beat signals the arrival of ‘Is It Alright Now?’, a song that has a foot-stomping rhythm and is evidence of their poppier sensibilities as composers. I’m sure some clothing company will be contacting them soon about using this song on an advert. Which reminds me… must buy myself some new jeans – thanks guys, you’re already halfway there! ‘It’s Me Not You’ changes pace a bit and features acoustic instrumentation in place of their usual high energy bombast. Despite some striking rhythmic similarities to ‘Wonderwall’, as well a comparable sentiment to that sop Ed Sheeran, the song is a great showcase for Dev’s soaring lead vocals. Another minor criticism of ‘It’s Me Not You’, would be the production, as it sounds a little tinny in comparison to the pristine clarity of the other songs. ‘Munich’ re-establishes their signature style and has an opening riff that could be pinched from a U2 demo tape. Another soaring vocal from Dev and a bassline breakdown gives each member a chance to have their moment in the sun. Some close vocal harmonies make for a nice overlap and shows their arrangement skills. The indie-poppers finish things off with ‘Please’, which features a chorus sure to be a crowd pleaser at many-a-festival, due to its overtly catchy nature. The song is a nice closer to the EP and will have many people singing along I’m sure. One criticism I have of the EP is that it isn’t that diverse as a whole. None of them are inherently bad but at 6 songs feels a bit samey for the most part. I still enjoyed a few songs though and I’m sure it will please fans of ‘Catfish & the Bottlemen’, ‘Bastille’ and ‘Foals’.
If this article has piqued your interest, then why not head over to our official Facebook page and give us a like. If you’ve got any upcoming releases that you’d like to submit for review, then feel free to drop us a message on the page or get into direct contact with either myself or Will Robinson.
By Oliver Cobbin