Twenty Blocks Away – EP Review 07/01/2014

Where I live I’m surrounded by a music scene that is dominated by genres that have the word “-core” at the end of them.

As a Stoke on Trent man living in his own house eating cheap toasties and watching 90s anime from time to time I need to go and find out more about bands across the local scene.

Twenty Blocks Away is an electronic project which seems to rely on making music quite heavy yet somewhat groovy at the same time. The 6 track EP, entitled TBA_EP is a re- mastered and done up version of previous instrumental releases; two of the songs escape from the instrumental theme; good riddance too.

Liam Munday, the main man behind this, provides his lovely vocals which, in my opinion, have been long awaited in his music. This EP is more packed than I previous remembered, with tracks like; Black Car into the Night, coming on at the start. The distorted bass riff is a nice way to awaken the listener, crashing straight through your ear buds like a sea wave smashing through a surfers get together. The vocals have effects, it’s a nice take but; it is difficult to listen to what all the lyrics are until a second listen. When the effects are less used in the song the vocals become smoother, overall it’s a good short track which is catchy and heavy.

Egotism it’s less heavy but has more variety to the song, it’s a couple of minutes longer than the previous track, adding more progression. The voice effects are there again, however they seem more fitting with this song than the previous one, it’s still a bit difficult to hear the lyrics. The music shrieks a Nine Inch Nails prominent influence, but Twenty Blocks Away, remain their own sound.

Halfway point comes with States of Flux, at this point the vocals in the songs stop and the rest of the EP is instrumental. The intro sounds like the music is muddling up; it seems intentional as it kicks straight into a bass line that’s heavy and neat. The music changes slightly, it doesn’t remain completely repetitive and has its minor progressions that are refreshing and keep this song interesting. It’s a variety of sounds and effects all moulded into a nice simple and heavy groove.

This all cuts out and then a slowly rising intro comes up for the song Bits/Pieces.This track seems the most mellow so far. It’s still heavy in its own way, but there is a strange calm vibe to it, especially with the soft synth parts. Halfway through the song its gets heavier, the bass line more distorted but still at a slow tempo and steady progression, the song ends like it starts.

Belong comes in continuing the calm mood. It’s slow and sounds quite ballad related, the drum beat reminds me of Are We he waiting by Green Day a bit, they stop rather suddenly. Then after a while the song kicks in, the drums sound solid and the music calmly flows through, making it relaxing compared to the first half of the EP.

The last song, called Twenty Blocks Away has an ambient background introduction that reminds me of Da Funk by Daft Punk when the music kicks in. The music is good, however it gets very repetitive, and considering this and Belong are instrumental versions of these songs (which are clearly stated on their BandCamp page) it shows that the main thing missing from these songs are vocals.

This EP is strong; the music differs a lot from other musicians around Stoke on Trent, which to me is quite the relief.

The music is heavy yet groovy; its sound just gives a static funk vibe.

Whilst starting the first half of the EP with an in your face sound, it slowly calms down to a slightly heavy yet oddly relaxing state near the end.

The mix of moods and sounds are good as they don’t stray too far away from each other. Even though there are vocals in the first two of the songs, the last two songs really need vocals to them, the songs are solid but Liam’s voice on those songs would sound more packed.

A strong approach to electronic music, even though the last two songs are in need of vocals, the EP still manages to do well, especially as the songs are re-mastered from the originals.

TBA_EP is available to be purchased from Bandcamp.

 MC

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