Exclusive: Life On The Sideline EP announcement, music video premiere

Since releasing Honesty Is A Dying Breed two years ago, Life On The Sideline has remained active on the road and is now ready to unveil its upcoming EP, Never Settle. To kick things off, we're premiering the music video for the band's new single, "Echo", which tells the sad story of a young girl reminiscing times spent with her deceased partner. While not a pop punk song per se, it's as catchy as one with an infectious chorus that you'll inevitably get stuck in your head. The band's sound could be compared to that of Transit's and The Early November's. Fans can pre-order the EP on iTunes and CD here, before it's released on June 7th. […]

Friday, February 13, 2015

Review: City Lights - "Acoustic EP 2"

Release InfoCity Lights - Acoustic EP 2
Release Date: February 17th, 2015
Record Label: InVogure Records
Pre-order: Digital

Following last year’s announcement of disbanding, Ohio’s City Lights (now only comprising of vocalist Oshie Bichar) has fulfilled early promises of being a sole studio project with the release of a new acoustic EP. Aptly titled Acoustic EP 2, this latest effort again consists of acoustic renditions from a selection of tracks of the preceded full-length release, 2013’s The Way Things Should Be.

“The Dark Side” opens the EP with the subtle, muted chugs of an acoustic guitar that frames vocalist Oshie Bichar, guiding listeners who have ever felt afflicted by hardship, as he sings "The voices in your head, you must fight to endure. Hope is the only cure...". An eerie tone is still evident on this acoustic version of “The Dark Side”, which occupies a level of intimacy that the original is unable to.

The first single from the release, “Truth Is”, sets the energetic precedent for the other tracks to follow, speeding miles ahead, fuelled by a natural spontaneity within the chorus' charm. Bichar interacts with the classic tropes of heartbreak and longing, presenting the destructive factor of ambivalence ("Truth is, I still think about you every day; it drives me insane. I can’t destroy the memory") that can heighten the intensity in this circumstance.

The infectious “Cold And Grey” gleams in its acoustic form that illuminates the technical intricacies of the fretwork within the middle eight, which bites at listeners with the succession of each piercing note. The song encapsulates the over-arcing sound that's evident on the EP, where the skeletal form of the songs are given a platform of clarity away from the mechanical excessive production on its full-band counterpart.

There are moments on the EP that are reminiscent of the acoustic renditions on A Day To Remember’s Homesick. Acoustic EP 2 doesn’t necessarily deviate from the formula emulated on the first acoustic instalment, however that is exactly what is disappointing; the acoustic tracks are raw in their structure (limited to vocals, harmonies, guitars, and an occasional tambourine), but as the EP progresses, you can’t help but yearn for other additional instrumentation to heighten the novelty of intimacy that these songs are clearly seeking.

“So Much More To Give” is an example of an appropriate choice from The Way Things Should Be. Listeners are drowned in the earnest vulnerability projected by Bichar, as he exorcises the anxiety of alienation of the the modern world's ever-changing hardships. The intonation of Bichar carves an extended hand as he asks "Please tell me I’m not just wasting time, holding on those who don’t believe". The song explodes into an enchanting sing-a-long refrain that leaves space for listeners to wedge their own voice in the spaces.

Closer “Jeremy’s Song” is the brightest moment on the EP, drawing on the melancholy rooted from the opener, “The Dark Side”. “Jeremy’s Song” shifts effortlessly in an acoustic setting, almost obliterating any trace of the initial full-band recording. Listeners drift back onto a bed of harmonies that lace the bridge of the song into an erupting climax that is pushed to the excess of euphoria from the layers of melody that rise to what seems like an unfortunate fading end.

City Lights has successfully crafted a selection of well-rounded songs showcasing the band's scope of sound that was evident on the first acoustic instalment. However, the band misses the mark of distancing the record as a progression musically from the lack of incorporation of additional instrumental that unfortunately fails in reaching new heights and rests in the same rut as previous efforts.

1. The Dark Side
2. Truth Is
3. Cold And Grey
4. So Much More To Give
5. Jeremy's Song

RIYL: Acoustic bonus tracks from A Day To Remember's Homesick, Patent Pending


More reviews by Aaron Akeredolu