“That was wicked…” were the first words out of my mouth after listening to ‘Lockdown’, the Debut EP from Chapel Row. This four-piece group coming out of Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, have done almost everything right with this debut release. The EP is short, sweet and to the point —as any good EP should be. Three tracks on this release beginning with the title track ‘Lockdown’.

These guys waste no time in establishing a vibe that sets you up with what to expect for this whole release. They come out swinging with some really energetic vocals bolstered by some nice Jimmy Eat World-esque guitar work. The drums come in with the hats playing behind the beat, which really helps give it a bit of character right before the main riff drops in. While the main riff is simple it’s well executed, it’s always better to see a band do the simple stuff well than do the flashy stuff poorly. Jacob Herron is a brick house on the drums, he’s so solid here that it just makes this tune. Unfortunately, the EQ on the drums isn’t the best, at 00:20 you can hear a rapid hat count-in that’s been turned WAY down in the mix. It sounds like it was meant to be taken out, but someone forgot. It’s a small detail but it’s noticeable.

The second track, ‘She Knows’, is the low point on the EP and it’s placed right where it should be as a result. The song starts off with a lot lower energy with some acoustic guitar and vocals leading into the meat of the performance, the song didn’t really grab me until the chorus. The main lyric, “She knows, She knows, I know” is on point and the delivery is SO good, the rest of the song is worth listening to just for that. There’s some nice touches with the main guitar line, I just wish there was more of it. Leon O’Leary can clearly play, let him play, I want to hear this guy expand on what he’s doing. Playing the same four bars twice and then going back into the tune is a waste of an opportunity. The progression writing needs work as well, this entire track screams “Nirvana fan tribute.”

The Last track here, ‘Cold’ is fantastic, I was so happy to hear Connor Keohane make the bass growl in the introduction here. Likewise, FINALLY getting to hear the kick made a real difference. The previous two tracks, the mids take up everything and the low end is neglected, the Bass virtually disappeared on ‘She Knows’, so big points for more low end. No complaints on pretty much anything here, the guys are really tight, wasn’t a fan of the effects on the backing vocal, I felt they didn’t sit right in the mix but that’s more personal preference.

Chapel Row deliver, there’s some fine musicianship here. Jacob Herron is great on the drums, but I want to hear more in the mix. The bass needs more room in the mix, but it’s good and the guitar has just the right amount of distortion, get a bit creative with riffs and solos and it’ll be awesome. The vocals by Diggs Galliers, again are really solid, however, they’re very Kurt Cobain. That’s not necessarily a problem, because he does it well, but it leads to the biggest problem here.

The Nirvana aesthetic, they do it well, but, there’s been a million bands doing exactly the same thing and I’ve heard people do it better. I like Nirvana, but It’s been done, I don’t want to listen to Welsh Nirvana, I want to listen to Chapel Row. There’s originality here but the Vocal delivery plus the chord progressions (particularly the opening of she knows) makes it too obvious. That being said, for a first EP, I really dig this and I want to hear more.

Chapel Row 'Lockdown' (EP Review)

Stuart Anderson is an Irish Music Writer, Musician and Producer based in Dublin. Anderson holds Two Third-Level qualifications in Music from Høgskolen i Sørøst-Norge and Dundalk Institute of Technology where he specialised in Music Composition and minored in Classical Performance. He became interested in music journalism through writing his thesis, in which, he examined the emergence of the growing fringe genre of Wave music.