EP Review: Ellen Moss’ ‘Eclipse’
When I first gave ‘Eclipse’ by Ellen Moss a listen, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’d seen them back at RockStock in April and one thing that stuck out to me about this band is that every song they write seems to have its own unique twist, spanning multiple different genres and styles. For those who have not heard of these guys yet, Ellen Moss is not a female soloist, but a band comprised of four Newcastle University students, Aiden McCall, Lewis Tomlinson, Ryan Thompson and Ratnu Vaidya.
The band describe themselves as both an Alternative Rock and an Ambient Rock band, which would be a fair set of labels to describe their unique brand of music. However, despite these broad terms, there is clearly influences present from many genres such as metal, hard rock and punk. This is particularly demonstrated in the song ‘Clockwork’ which opens with the kind of filthy bass lick that you’d expect in a garage rock band. The track oozes sheer attitude and self-confidence, with vocalist Lewis’ brooding and deep voice complementing the instrumentals perfectly.
There are also some excellent breakdowns within this song where drummer Ratnu goes crazy, while the guitarists are shredding like it’s a thrash metal hit. I absolutely love this, it’s something I feel a lot of musicians are scared to do, mix up your genres and be brave in your creativity!
A big selling point of this EP isn’t just the varied nature of how Ellen Moss have structured their songs, but also the variety of genres on display. The first two tracks ‘The Cycle’ and ‘Clockwork’, for example, have a hard-hitting and heavy nature to them, with the former featuring a slow and ambient opening, only to kick straight into a faster and heavy rock song. The vocalist on this track, Aiden, complements Lewis’ low end and dirtiness with his more clear and flowery vocal style. Both ‘The Cycle’ and ‘Clockwork’ sound like songs which I could have imagined coming out in the early 90s as part of the grunge and alternative rock scene, which is great to see because it is a rare sound that I feel people tend not to emulate. Another thing I love is the use of synth and dubbed voice clips when there is ambiance within the songs, which helps trigger the imagination of the listener and offer clues as to what these songs might be about.
This brings me on to ‘Distonate’ and ‘Sometimes’, the more pop like affairs on the EP. This is not intended as an insult towards them however, instead it should be seen as a complement that the band can create impressive songs across multiple genres. ‘Distonate’ is a nice breath of fresh air after listening to the heavier music, and it has a radio friendly appeal to it with its catchy and chilled out vibe.
The clean guitars and Aiden’s vocals are charming together, accumulating to form a song I could really imagine getting the crowd going at a live show.
‘Sometimes’ has a similar feeling, being another softer song, but keeping a nice pace to it still. It has the vibe of an indie pop anthem from the last decade to it, and I could easily imagine dancing along to this song.
Finally, there is the instrumental song ‘Thoughtless Grey’. I was surprised to discover this on the EP, it appeared to come out of nowhere and could be seen as a brave move on behalf of the band to release a purely instrumental piece. The risk pays off however, as the excellent attention to detail put into all of its components (mainly the soft almost classical like guitar) is apparent throughout.
I think an EP is an excellent outlet for a band to try out and present experimental stuff like this track and I’d love to hear what other instrumental music Ellen Moss might compose in the future.
All in all, ‘Eclipse’ is an enjoyable EP to listen to, and I say that as someone who isn’t massively into ambient rock.
For a first EP release, it’s a fantastic showcase of what the band is capable of as both musicians and song writers. It’s got something there for the fans of hard rock, but also stuff for the fans of soft rock and indie. I can imagine an Ellen Moss show being a really interesting experience, because you’ll be dancing one minute and moshing the next.
‘Eclipse’ comes out on the 31st of August and Ellen Moss will be playing their EP launch on October 6th at Bar Loco.
Photography by Emily Burkett