Proud Ember – I Died In My Bedroom (EP) – Review

Proud Ember is a new kid on the block in the Birmingham scene, and is making waves after recently supporting Hotel Books on their Birmingham show at the end of January. After releasing a split with Miltone Keynes based Crater Face in the latter half of this year many have been looking forward to Proud Ember’s next release. Proud Ember is made up of Alex Hyland, a young lad who is truly showing his potential not only through live shows but also through his recordings. With out further ado let’s break down his debut EP I Died In My Bedroom.

if i was a bird id fly in to the ceiling fan part 1 starts this EP, and not only does it set the tone for this debut by Proud Ember but it also gives a clear insight in to the amount of brutal honesty Alex Hyland is clearly going to present to on this very heartfelt EP. With the tracks simplistic yet powerful instrumentation it allows Alex’s vocals, all be them stronger in shouts, to carry the song and truly hone in on the message the track is wishing to portray. Overall this opener does what it needs to do, for those who know of Proud Ember and for those who don’t, it is a strong opener that truly shows the potential this EP has with everything else that lays on it’s track listing.

This is followed by a re-recording of milhouse, although being the weakest track is by no means a bad thing. milhouse can be found on the split with Crater Face, however with subtle changes and additions this track becomes something else on this EP. One thing is evident through this track, and that is the fact that Proud Ember is far more open with his instrumentation than simply just focusing on chords like a lot of solo musicians do. However, when the track does boil back down to the chords in which he shouts so powerfully on top of, there is this clear sense that all together these separate parts work cohesively. It is at this moment the track does something new that wasn’t evident on that split, and that is the brief moment of spoken word which is truly a nice addition to the track before it closes down with more powerful and heart wrenching lyrics. Which are soon accompanied by the samples of Milhouse from The Simpsons that help drive this track home.

Coming through next on I Died In My Bedroom is [smoke] which is the strongest track on this entire EP. [smoke] starts with this brutally honest spoken word opening which talks about being not good enough among other honest wordings. It is in this moment that we not only witness some brutal realizations which are very reminiscent with Hotel Books, but also the way in which Alex orchestrates his lyrics and instrumentation to create a track full of meaning and powerful delivery. After this spoken word the track quickly jumps back in to these shouts which leave a lasting and haunting impression whether it is live or on recording and help solidify this track as the strongest on the EP.

Following on from this is I Died, which acts as the title track to this EP and is truly haunting not only in terms of the instrumentation which is very simplistic but works for all the right reasons alongside the very well-constructed vocal parts and lyricism which doesn’t only paint a vivid image in the head but also leave a lasting impression well after the song has finished. However one thing does in a sense let the track down, and that is Alex’s cleans which aren’t always the strongest. But with it being his first EP, these clean vocals will be something that will improve with time and will match the rawness and honesty in his shouts.

Ending this is EP is if i was a bird id fly in the ceiling fan part 2 which not only ties the EP together as a whole but also closes it in a great way.  With yet more of this well crafted shout and clean mix Proud Ember perfectly ties together this EP with part 2. Overall instrumentally it is as interesting as the opener with this simple riff that is now repeated but in a calmer sense up until Proud Ember starts to close off this track when his shouts become more raw and truly leave goosebumps as this track plays out.

Overall this five track EP shows a lot of promise for Coventry born Proud Ember through not only the power and emotion that are evident through the tracks but also through the simplistic yet impactful lyricism which is accompanied by this well orchestrated riffs and chords which help the tracks move along at the steady pace. However Proud Ember does have room to grow, both vocally and instrumentally, but with him only being 19 this debut EP is the perfect start of that growth. [7.5/10]

Better Than Never Head Under Water EP

LIVE: Better Than Never – Nottingham The Maze 11/01/17

First up on the stage of this small pub venue was Coventry’s Proud Ember, a late addition to the line up. The only acoustic act on the bill, Proud Ember states his genre as ’emo acoustic’, which describes him perfectly. He incorporated different vocal styles into his performance – spoken word, heated and just normal singing.

Although Proud Ember seemed a little nervous, he announced that he’d recorded his first EP and played some tunes from that. He sounded like a male Lily Allen with influences of Adele in terms of style and lyrical content.

With a little more practise at live performances, Proud Ember would bring something new to the acoustic scene, however what was letting him down on this occasion most of all was the sound effects. His guitar could have done with some compression to dampen the high notes ringing out on the full chords, and some equalising as there was too much top end coming through.

[6/10]

Next up were Hail The Deceiver, a metalcore group from Derby. They were a great contrast in line up to Proud Ember, and appeared to be in time and well rehearsed. Hail The Deceiver had great stage presence and excellent vocal and guitar harmonies without overpowering the sound. However, their cover of Green Day‘s American Idiot was too fast and fell apart in the verses, which was disappointing as it’s actually quite a simple song.

Hail The Deceiver had a brilliant variety of genres in their set list, from more pop punk numbers to a heavy cover of Duality by Slipknot. They performed better at their own material, and the best song of the set was an original called Nothing Left.

[7/10]

The middle of the lineup saw High Tides, who branded themselves as ‘putting the emo into pop punk’. They were known by the audience, having been gigging around Nottingham for a couple of years. High Tides played with a great enthusiasm and energy, had great timing and communication between the band members and some sweet vocal harmonies. However some of the softer vocals were lost under the instruments, which could have been avoided by the sound technician balancing the levels. They also have an upcoming EP and played some material off that. The audience loved them.

[9/10]

On second to last, and taking quite a while to set up, were Eastbourne’s The Holiday. They managed to make quite a big sound for a threesome, and the bass and drums were locked together nice and tight. They interacted well with the audience but the singer admitted to having a cold and his guitar being out of tune, which can be seen as unprofessional at bigger gigs.

The Holiday used backing tracks to round out the sound of their group, filling in with extra guitar layers where they were needed. However whilst performing Before You, the backing track to the next song came on, ruining the effect of the song. There was also some feedback on the microphones and the bassist’s microphone was muted, so it was impossible to hear him when he sang backing vocals.

Overall The Holiday had better music and were better rehearsed than Hail The Deceiver, but there were too many technical faults on this occasion to make for a better performance.

[7/10]

Finally, at 22:45pm, Better Than Never came on to the stage. The six piece from Oxford were too big for the stage, but this wasn’t too much of a problem because some of the musicians had wireless instruments. The lead vocalist, James, made use of the longer XLR lead that was plugged into his microphone and interacted with the audience. One of the guitarists with a wireless guitar frequently wandered around the room and the group were clearly enjoying their gig, which had a positive impact on the audience. However Better Than Never fell slightly out of sync in some places, but managed to get back into time quickly.

This was the group’s first time playing in Nottingham, and they exclaimed that it was better than Mansfield and Derby. They also performed a cover of Fall Out Boy‘s Sugar We’re Going Down, which, due to the number of instruments involved, came out heavier than the original but was definitely enjoyable. They were grateful to their support acts, which was great to see, however at the end of the set the group just stopped playing and started packing away with no warning. Was this because of the noise curfew in a residential area? Or was this the planned end to the set? Was it an effort at cultivating mystery? The audience wasn’t really too sure.

[8/10]