First Avenue – ‘Dark Days’ EP review

The competition, advertised on Facebook
The competition, advertised on Facebook

I was fortunate enough to win a copy of First Avenue’s EP ‘Dark Days’ in a Facebook competition. I rarely involve myself in such things, but after seeing the band perform at Hull’s weekly Sesh, I couldn’t say no to giving it a try. I’d already decided that I would probably purchase it, and having not got round to doing so figured I might as well give a freebie a shot.

And I did win a copy. So I felt it only fair to review, using a different style to my usual EP/album reviews, by going through it track by track.

First Avenue started out as a guitar duo made up of Chris Key and Rob McIlwrath. Now with the addition of Louie Scott on bass and John Dye on percussion, they are taking the city by storm. I don’t think I know a band performing as often as these guys. They have several gigs this month alone, so do check them out.

Track 1: Intro starts off with an introduction of each instrument, building up to a regular, rather hypnotic, rhythm. You’d expect that, right? But then the music loses volume and is replaced with the sound of chatter. Like the first song performed to a crowded room, there is interjection, conversation overshadowing the tune.

Luckily, the music picks up again; the same rhythm but in faster tempo, with the addition of Chris Keys’ equally hypnotic vocals. I’m completely absorbed in the music before even track one has ended, drawn in by his husky voice and the gentle harmonies in the background. A wonderful start, perfectly named as it sets the scene for the rest of the EP.

First Avenue, Sesh 18.02.15
First Avenue, Sesh 18.02.15

Track 2: You begins with a focus on the vocals. I like that more people are keeping the focus on the lead, with the lyrics taking a more prominent role. But again, there’s that rhythmic heartbeat from the drums which keeps you hooked on the sound. It’s a mellow tune, with emphasis on key phrases.

Track 3: Survive is led by the guitar. The initial vocals are less catchy, making it more difficult to hang on them as with other tracks. However, the Latin influence of the guitars makes you move to this track in a way you don’t so much with the others.

Track 4: Broken is my favourite track on the EP. Introduced by the same chatter as in the opening track, the guitars slice through and welcome the vocals again. The chorus is catchy enough that I remembered this song from their live set, singing along to the words “I’m not broken yet; I’m may train to forget.”

This tune summarises the tracklist for me: a solemn set of lyrics with an upbeat guitar which gets your feet moving to the rhythm.

Chris Key
Chris Key

Track 5: Cry Out has a different sound. Still solemn, but more haunting than the other tracks. Keys vocals underpin the guitar, echoing through the sounds of the instruments. It ends rather too soon for my liking, as I just get into when the harmonies fade and the track moves on.

Track 6: Fire of Light opens with the sound of crickets, making me picture a quiet night around a firepit. The music is gentle and relaxing, fitting this image comfortably. About a minute in, the pitch and tempo increases, introducing the chorus alongside a similar rhythmic beat the others. The sound comes in waves, picking up and lulling.

Track 7: Burning Up (Bonus Track) mixes the Latin vibes in with the relaxed vocals which bring all of these tracks together.

Overall, an easy listening collection which will get you moving if you are in such the mood for this.

You can see First Avenue performing in Hull throughout April
You can see First Avenue performing in Hull throughout April
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