We’re glad to announce that Norwich, UK-based indie band The Lowtones have released their debut EP, entitled Front Row Empty.
The Lowtones are Oliver ‘Mav’ Mavilio (vocals), Jack Abbott (guitar), Tim Cary (guitar), Aaron Davies-Jones (bass), and George Abbott (drums). They initially formed as a four-piece group in Norwich during February 2020, the band members having all played in groups together over the years (but mainly just for fun). Jack and George are brothers and went to high school with Mav, while George and Tim met playing football together. Mav had been living in Brighton for the last five years, but moved back to Norfolk at the beginning of 2020, and got in touch with Jack and George about starting playing music together again. George knew Tim and got him to join the band as well. Then towards the end of 2021, the group decided to move to being a 5-piece band, having put out an ad locally for a bass player and being lucky to recruit Aaron, who had recently moved up to Norwich from London.
Bringing together lyrical themes of isolation and loneliness with their signature guitar sound, driving bass-lines, and high-energy drums, The Lowtones have been playing shows in and around Norwich in the last year— including performing on the BBC Introducing Stage at Wild Paths Festival and headlining their own show at Voodoo Daddy’s Showroom. Their debut EP, Front Row Empty, was also recently launched at a headline show in Norwich on the 23rd of April, with the release being supported with shows throughout the rest of 2022. The EP was recorded over a couple of weeks back in November 2021 at Catch 21 Records, Norwich, and was produced and mixed by Gavin Bowers.
Musically, Front Row Empty was at least partly inspired by the time; there is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty out there at the moment, and The Lowtones sought to capture that in their sound. There are also a lot of themes in the lyrics inspired by isolation and loneliness, difficult break-ups and unrequited love, which many people will be able to relate to on some level. However, the music is also upbeat and catchy, so listeners can just as easily dance to it.
Describing the backstory to the EP, Jack from The Lowtones tells us:
“We formed as a four-piece right at the beginning of the Pandemic/lockdown (Feb 2020) so we had written a lot of tracks/demos and recorded them from home. So when everything started opening up again and we were finally allowed to play shows etc. we decided to get some of the tracks recorded ‘properly’ in the studio. We contacted Catch21 Records (an Indie studio in Norwich) and Gavin Bowers to record a 5-track EP. All the tracks were written during the height of the pandemic and I think the uncertainty, anxiety, and isolation of the time comes through in the music. Mav had recently come out of a long-term relationship as well as moving back to Norfolk from Brighton, so a lot of the lyrical themes are of reflection and ‘starting again’”
About their plans for 2022, Jack adds, “We played a EP launch Show at Space Studios in Norwich. We are traveling to New York to play a show at the Chelsea Music Hall on the 6th of May (supporting Bergy Seltzer) before returning to the UK to play several shows in Norwich supporting the EP throughout the summer. We will also be going back into the studio to record another Single (to be released towards the end of this year) and a second EP (to be released early 2023).”
Front Row Empty opens with “Let Go,” which has an upbeat atmosphere that nicely juxtaposes with the track’s melancholic lyrics. It immediately draws the listener in with driving bass and drum rhythms reminiscent of ‘80s post-punk, accompanied nicely by catchy vocal melodies and bright, clean-toned electric guitar leads; while the next track, “Funeral,” is highlighted by dynamic percussion and dark, interweaving melodies from the two guitarists that are underscored by the deep bass notes, creating the perfect backdrop for the track’s heartfelt lyrics.
“Alone” then begins with energetic drum rhythms, which nicely lock in with the track’s driving guitar leads and propulsive bassline, in turn complementing the powerful emotion of the vocals quite well throughout the track. The fourth track, “Near,” features uplifting-yet-slightly-melancholic, bright-toned guitar melodies underscored by resonant bass notes and laidback drumming, creating a complex mood that mirrors the track’s reflective lyrics. The EP then closes with another great track, “Streets of Shame,” which perfectly blends dynamic percussion with deep guitar textures and dreamlike, wistful lyrics.
The Lowtones’ Front Row Empty is quite an impressive debut EP, and a highly enjoyable listen from beginning to end. Combining post-punk-inspired indie rock with lyrical themes and emotions that will surely be relatable to listeners in these uncertain times, the EP is both a breath of fresh air and wonderfully nostalgic-sounding. Highly recommended listening.
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